After three decades of service, WXXI has announced that it will be ending its radio reading service, Reachout Radio, as of May 30.
Station officials said that the closed-circuit radio broadcast that provides access to daily newspapers and magazines for people who are unable to read standard print due to vision loss or physical disability, has become obsolete.
WXXI said that with advances in digital accessibility, the availability of 24-hour news services, and the shift of print journalism to electronic distribution, new technology has surpassed Reachout Radio's usefulness.
A survey of listeners found that their need for a radio reading service had greatly declined over the years.
“The decision to discontinue our radio reading service did not come easily, or without a thorough evaluation,” said WXXI President Norm Silverstein. "After surveying our listeners, it became clear that that they had outgrown Reachout Radio and turned to newer, more available technology. We are proud to have been able to provide the service to our community for more than three decades, but realize that people with vision loss are consuming news and media on digital platforms that are more accessible.”
WXXI and ABVI-Goodwill launched the radio reading service in 1984. At that time, the service had nearly 1,500 registered listeners. Today, only a handful of people are registered for the service, and of those, just a few said they were listening only occasionally if at all.
“It makes sense for WXXI to end Reachout Radio given the demographics and the audience’s changing preferences,” said Jennifer Lake, president and CEO of Goodwill of the Finger Lakes/ABVI. “WXXI and ABVI together share a common purpose in advocating for accessibility of programming and media for those who are visually impaired.”
WXXI will continue to provide audio-described television programming, which provides concise descriptions of sets, scenery, costumes, action, and other important visual elements between the dialogue of the program.
WXXI is also dedicated to its Move to Include initiative, a partnership with the Golisano Foundation designed to promote inclusion for people with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities through programming and special events.