WHRO in the Community
The WHRO Voice
The WHRO Voice
Imagine you couldn't do exactly what you're doing right now: read a piece of printed material. Imagine you couldn't hold a newspaper in your hands, or see it if you could -- imagine you couldn't scan the grocery store specials each week to plan your family's shopping. Imagine not being able to read the obituaries, or to find out when holiday trash collection is.
Literally thousands of people in Hampton Roads don't have to imagine those things: they're the reality of every day life. According to the Virginia Department for the Blind, there are more than 154,000 blind or severely visually impaired citizens in WHRO's service area. And that number doesn't include sighted individuals whose physical limitations prevent them from manipulating newspapers, magazines or books!
More than twenty years ago, WHRO looked for a way to respond to these statistics, and with a lot of research and hard work, they established the Hampton Roads Voice for the Print Handicapped, a radio reading service to provide what national radio and TV news coverage can't: the flavor of a community's life that's best represented in the local sections of a newspaper. The Voice began in a makeshift studio in a trailer under the leadership of the late Peter Pine, with eight volunteer readers. The service was then – as it is now – offered free of charge to qualifying individuals, transmitted via a radio that's been specially modified to receive the closed circuit signal. Today the Voice operates out of a fully equipped FM broadcast studio that's named for Mr. Pine, and boasts more than a thousand receivers in use throughout Hampton Roads. It has also joined the digital age and can be streamed via internet to computers in Hampton Roads and around the world. The number of volunteers has grown to right almost one hundred, who read local newspapers live on the air -- concentrating on regional stories, obituaries and commentaries – and grocery store ads. The service has been expanded to include locally both the Virginian Pilot and the Daily Press, as well as other periodicals. When live readers aren't on the air, the Voice supplements with syndicated programming from the Virginia Voice or the In Touch network to maintain the 24-hour, 365-day schedule.
The Hampton Roads Voice is funded by the United Way of South Hampton Roads, the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Lions Clubs of District 24-D, the Virginia Association of the Blind . . . and by individual WHRO members.
|12:00 AM||Midnight Music||Syndicated Programming||Bible Reading|
|12:10||Richmond Time Dispatch|
|2:00||Humor||Richmond Times Dispatch, Comics||Syndicated Programming|
|2:30||Hands Down Yoga||What's Cooking?||Soap Opera Digest||Looking Back|
|3:00||Newsweek||USA Today||Wall Street Journal||National Geographic|
|4:00||Richmond Magazine||Southern Living||Readers Digest||More, Magazine for Women Over 40|
|4:30||Black Experience||News In Perspective|
|5:30||People||Religion in Print
6:15 - Guideposts
|Radio Museum||Short Stories|
|6:30||Pet Pause||The Nature of Things||Smithsonian||All About Virginia|
|7:10||Richmond Times Dispatch|
|10:00||The Virginian-Pilot, Obituaries|
|11:00||The Daily Press|
|12:00 PM||Parade Magazine||The Daily Press, Obituaries|
|1:00||The Virginian-Pilot||Wall Street Journal||Afternoon Book Hour||Wall Street Journal||Grocery Cart||Afternoon Book Hour||Smithsonian|
|2:00||Looking Back||Not Strictly For Women||Fifty Plus||Southern Living||TV Guide||All About Virginia|
|2:30||What's Cooking?||Bulletin Board||All About Virginia||Pet Pause||To Your Health or ABC Reports||NewsWeek|
|3:00||Daily Press||Consumer Choices||Hear & There||Food Section RT-D||Oprah||Religion in Print
3:45 - Guideposts
|3:30||Reviews||USA Today||USA Today||Readers Digest|
|4:00||TV Guide||Kids Stuff||National Geographic||People|
|4:30||Richmond Times Dispatch, Obituaries and TV Schedule|
|5:00||Cooking in the Dark||The Bookshelf: Literature for teens and older||Assistive Technology|
|5:30||Just for Teens|
|6:00||Hands Down Yoga||Radio Museum||Reviews||The Nature of Things||Style Weekly
"Arts & Culture" and "Night & Day"
|6:30||Not Strictly for Women||Smithsonian||National Geographic||Style Weekly
"News & Features"
|Assistive Technology||Hear & There|
|7:00||Sunday Book Hour
*Rebroadcast of the Friday afternoon Book Hour
|Current Affairs||Community News||Richmond Times Dispatch, Home and Garden||Saturday Book Hour
*Rebroadcast of Tuesday afternoon Book Hour
|7:30||Bulletin Board||To Your Health||Living Independently or Living With Chronic Illness||Richmond Times Dispatch, Weekend Section||Fifty Plus|
|8:00||The Sunday Special||The Black Experience||News in Perspective||Essence|
|8:30||Richmond Times Dispatch, Home & Garden|
|9:00||Syndicated Programming||Humor||Richmond Times Dispatch, Comics||To Your Health|
|9:30||Science Fiction Shorts||Just for Teens||Assistive Technology||Eye on Sports||NewsWeek||The Nature of Things|
|10:00||Science Today||Short Stories||Biography Hour||Personal Investing
10:45 - Kiplinger Letter
|10:30||Style, News & Features|
|11:00||Late Night Book Hour||Science Fiction Shorts|
With the help of nearly 90 readers, volunteers are essential to our service. Prospective volunteers must meet our general requirements and complete a two-hour training session at the station. Our unique program is a beneficial tool for many and one to which we hope you'll consider lending your voice.
When we have reading positions open up, the first thing we do is contact prospective volunteers from our Volunteer Waiting List. Interested in being added to that list? Here's the process: First, read through our volunteer requirements and background information. If you meet the specified requirements and are still interested, then read the subsequent 'Waiting List Directions' for contact instructions.
Note: Lengths of waits are difficult to predict, at times varying from a couple of weeks to a few months or longer. Though a first step towards becoming a reader for our program, not all who add their names to our waiting list are ensured future volunteers positions.
One year minimum commitment -- This helps us cut down on the amount of turnover and time spent on bringing in as well as training new volunteers. Thus, our volunteer program wouldn't be a good fit for those with work or class schedules that will soon change, those planning to move out of town in the next year, those looking for work whose availability could change upon finding employment, etc.
Minimum Age = 18
Available for set reading times – Volunteers must be able to read during our live reading schedule. Shifts are 9am-11am and 11am-1pm on Monday through Saturday. On Sunday the shifts are 1pm-3pm and 3pm-5pm.
Have home Internet access & email -- This requirement is due to the fact that training materials, reader backup lists, many volunteer communications, etc. are provided online.
Able to have a regular assignment -- Those who start off as on call readers should be willing to move into a regularly scheduled position (no more than 2 - 3 x a month) if one becomes available. Some readers start off on-call, others begin with regular assignments, depending on what is open at the time. If you start off as an on call or 'sub' reader, you should be willing to move into a regular slot if one eventually becomes available (though subs often move into regular spots, future regular positions aren't guaranteed).
Regular out of town travel does not exceed more than a few times a year -- Many of our volunteers travel occasionally, which is fine. We cannot accept volunteers that travel out of town for months at a time.
Whew! Still interested after reading all this? Great, thank you for hanging in there! Since you got this far, it looks like you could be a good fit for our program. So let's go ahead and add you to our volunteer waiting list.
Volunteer Waiting List
To be placed on our Volunteer Waiting List, please call and leave us a voicemail with your name, telephone number and email address. If a reading spot opens up in the future that matches your availability and our needs, we'll follow up and contact you with more details at that time.
Whether we're able to make use of your kind offer to read for us at some point or not, you have already been a big help in patiently reading through all of this, leaving us your message and adding your name to our waiting list. We really appreciate that!
Style of reading: casual, conversational with a lot of inflection and a nice slow (but not too slow), steady pace. Try not to sound like a news anchor. Pretend you're reading to someone you know in your living room. Inflect a bit more on adjectives, things or phrases that stand out, etc. You shouldn't get caught up and concentrate too heavily on inflection though. Your reading should flow smoothly without frequent hesitations.
Relax. We're not looking for a perfect reading, especially since this material wasn't composed to be read out loud. Overall, we're looking for good pronunciation and a reading style that's easy to follow.
The WHRO Voice a Radio Reading Service is a self-sustaining operation, though a part of WHRO, the Voice’s annual operation budget is dependent on public donations. So we really could use your help! When making your charitable donations or planning your estate, please keep the WHRO Voice in mind. If you would like to send a donation, checks can be made payable to The WHRO Voice and mailed to:
The WHRO Voice
5200 Hampton Blvd
Norfolk, VA 23508
Frequently Asked Questions
Why can't I hear the WHRO Voice on a regular radio?
In consideration of potential copyright issues and due to cost factors, the Voice delivers programming over a source closed to the general public. The closed access channel used to do this is called a sub-channel or closed radio frequency. A specially tuned radio, obtained through the Voice, is needed to receive the sub-channel. Unfortunately, the radios aren't sold through general retail outlets but can be obtained directly through the Voice after an application is completed.
Who qualifies for the service?
Anyone qualifies that has difficulty reading print or is unable to do so. This includes those who are blind, have partial vision, a physical disability (like severe arthritis), or other condition that prevents them from being able to read a newspaper. We have a wide range of listeners, but the majority of our audience are seniors who have limited vision and varying degrees of difficulty in reading small print. The program is open to any age though we warn parents to monitor their children's listening times as some of our readings contain adult content (like our book readings). The sub-channel radio service only reaches cities and communities of South Hampton Roads. While use of the sub-channel radio is limited to qualified recipients in South Hampton Roads, our live web stream is open to all individuals, regardless of location or disability.
Will the radio service work in my area?
How does the radio work?
It works like any other radio with the biggest difference being that by using a single switch on the unit, the reading service automatically broadcasts without any tuning involved. All of our radios have an earphone plug. Earphones aren't provided though most regular headsets will fit. Our radios also can be plugged into an outlet or run off of batteries in case of a power outage.
How long can the radio be used?
You can keep the radio as long as you wish. The sub-channel radio needed to hear the service is the property of the WHRO Voice and is considered a lifetime loan (regardless of whether a donation was made to cover the cost of the receiver or not). If the radio is no longer used at any point, we ask that someone return it so that another new listener may use it. The radios can be returned by mail, free of postage, or dropped off at the station (other arrangements can be made if necessary).
How do I get the service?
Fill out our application and mail it in so we can send the necessary custom radio. We can send you an application/information packet if you contact us at (757) 889-9430. Anyone can fill out the application, not just the individual who wants the service. A medical professional's authorization is requested, but a caretaker’s signature is fine. If you would like to use the web stream, you simply go to www.whro.org/voice and click the “Listen Now” button. No application is needed.
How is the Reading Service funded?
WHRO provides some of our support but we rely heavily on the generosity of civic groups, philanthropists and individual donations. We receive some funding from the Commonwealth of Virginia and the United Way. When making your financial gifts, please keep the Voice in mind.
How long has the service been around?
Almost 30 years. The service started with a handful of volunteers in a trailer behind the WHRO. We now have a diverse volunteer roster includes nearly 90 volunteers and a fully-operational studio in WHRO. There about 125 similar reading service throughout the U.S and a few other internationally.
How do I volunteer and what's involved?
Prospective volunteers must meet our general requirements, pass a brief reading audition and come in to WHRO for a planned training session and for their reading assignments. All of our volunteers read live newspapers aloud with a partner. Please see our volunteer section for more information.
Since you're on 24 hours a day, are volunteers there around the clock?
No. We only broadcast locally through the day and switch over to the Virginia Voice in the afternoon. Our volunteers are generally here at various times between 9:00am and 2:00pm, seven days a week, including holidays.
How do I contact the WHRO Voice?