Once again, the July Radio News is much more” slim and trim” than usual thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Radio Talking Book (RTB) staff is working with State of Minnesota and State Services for the Blind officials on plans to safely resume operations in the Communication Center.
After the Communication Center reopens, regular programming begins again as soon as possible with the help of many dedicated and talented volunteers. Broadcasts of more news from Minnesota newspapers will also resume.
Here’s what has happened up until now:
- On March 27, RTB began broadcasting the signal from the University of Kansas Audio-Reader Network. To find out more about Audio-Reader, visit www.reader.ku.edu.
- RTB resumed newspaper broadcasts April 16. State and local news is presented by Michael LaFleur 9-11 a.m. weekdays, with Edy Elliott presenting the same Saturdays and Sundays. Brad Bronk and Joe Papke present the New York Times 5-6 p.m. weekdays.
Following a book broadcast that was shelved? All books that were suspended when the pandemic began will be restarted from the first page, giving listeners a way to get caught up or jump in at the beginning.
Regular broadcasting will return as soon as possible. Contact State Services for the Blind at 651-539-2300 or 1-800-652-9000 or email ssb. [email protected]. for more information.
New listening options
A new RTB app is now available for both iOS and Android devices. The app can be found in the Apple app store for iOS, and the Google Play store for Android. Both apps will enable listener to listen to our live stream, or archived programming from the past week.
When searching in either store make sure to select MN RTB, as other radio reading services have made apps available. In the Apple store use the terms Radio Talking Book or RTB without the quotes; in the Google Play store, search for Radio Talking Book.
An RTB “skill” is also now available on Amazon smart speakers. To begin say, Alexa, enable Radio Talking Book. Alexa will ask if the user wants to play RTB, hear the schedule, or find out what is now playing. Respond by saying, Alexa, play Radio Talking Book.
Next, Alexa will ask if the user if he/she/they are blind or print-impaired. This is so those eligible for the service can be sure to gain access. Those eligible need to say, yes, so that Alexa will play the RTB live stream.
Current schedule information cannot be accessed because regular programming isn’t being aired at this time.
Listen to RTB’s live or archived programs online at www.mnssb.org/rtb. Call or email to get a password for the site. The password requirement will be removed in the near future.
The NFB-NEWSLINE service will continue. The service provides access to more than 500 magazines and newspapers, plus information on COVID-19 in the Breaking News section. To learn more about NFB-NEWSLINE visit www.nfb.org/programs-services/nfb-newsline.
Please return audio cartridges
Anyone who has been receiving the Radio News on audio cartridges, and still has some from previous months, is asked to mail those back to SSB.
SSB Services During COVID-19
Here’s a quick overview of what to expect from SSB during the stay-at-home period:
Staff will continue to assist customers by phone, email and through other virtual channels.
Custom transcription of print materials into audio and e-text is temporarily suspended.
Braille production is continuing, though there may be delays in getting materials to customers.
SSB’s general email will be checked regularly, at [email protected].
SSB’s main number, 651-539-2300, is checked daily. Staff will respond within two days.