The Youngstown Radio Reading Service (YRRS) — a private, non-profit station that serves the print and visually impaired — recently named their studios The Youngstown Lions Digital Recording Studio in recognition of the longtime support from Youngstown Lions Club. In 2016, the Youngstown Lions Club provided YRRS with a $5,000 donation to begin the digital transition process. A $6,500 donation in 2017 has recently allowed the YRRS to complete the transition from analog to digital. “The Lions Club has been involved in sight saving since 1925 when Helen Keller spoke in Sandusky, Ohio and challenged the Lions to be ‘knights of the blind’ and we have been supporting this worthwhile service while working towards that mission,” says Roger Guglucello, Youngstown Lions Club member and Goodwill board member.
Prior to the transition, the studios were using analog recordings such as cassettes and cd burners. “Everything is completely computerized now,” says Mike Bosela, YRRS coordinator. “If not for the Youngstown Lions, we couldn’t have done it. YRRS has been around for over 41 years and the Youngstown Lions Club has been there right from the beginning,” says Bosela.
On October 1, YRRS expanded their broadcast schedule to seven days a week, 24 hours a day. That same day also marked the 25th anniversary of when the YRRS studios opened at Youngstown Area Goodwill Industries. YRRS began in 1976 with approximately 10 volunteers as part of the Youngstown Society for the Blind. When the Youngstown Society for the Blind closed in 1992, YRRS moved their operations to the Goodwill facility on Belmont Avenue.
Print materials, which are otherwise not accessible to its listeners, are read by YRRS volunteers and broadcast at specific times throughout the day. Programming includes in-depth coverage of local newspapers, readings from magazines and best-selling books presented in series. Talk shows and special interest programs encourage listeners to share experiences, exchange views and gain knowledge. Specially tuned radios are provided free of charge to qualified listeners.
With their new studio name and digital equipment, YRRS is looking towards the future. “Maybe down the line we will look at the possibility of streaming,” adds Bosela. The current priority for YRRS is to find someone to help cover the cost of the 216 radios they recently received. “The state paid 90% of the cost of the receivers and we are looking for other local Lions Club organizations or donors to make up the 10% match, which is approximately $1,000,” says Bosela. “The purchase of those 216 receivers will last us at least five years and allow us to reach more community members who need them.”
If you are interested in donating or volunteering with YRRS, or know of someone who may qualify for one of their radios, please contact the YRRS at 330.759.0100.