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May 23, 2017 10:20 am  #1


Blind Radio People Don’t Let Lack Of Sight Stand In Their Way

It’s something most of us in radio have probably never thought about – could you work the board, play the tunes and operate a computer if you couldn’t see anything? A number of years ago, this board’s original founder, Dale Patterson, drew my attention to a guy named Sam Ward, who managed to produce his own radio show despite being totally blind.

I’d sort of forgotten about it until this week, when not one but two sightless radio people were profiled in different markets. One is a jock in Indianapolis who’s been working in that town for 36 years, while a second does – of all things – colour commentary during sports broadcasts.
 
I remember a number of years ago reading in Rick Sklar’s book “Rockin’ America” about how WABC’s afternoon board op was totally blind – and that was in the 60s! And according to Sklar, the guy never messed up the tight format. 
 
It’s astounding to me that these people have not only made a career for themselves, but have actually thrived despite the obvious disadvantage of not being able to see. While radio is ironically the perfect medium for someone without sight to listen to, I’ve tried to imagine working behind the scenes while not being able to see anything. I have no idea how they do it, but more power to them, It’s a remarkable feat in a business that too often turns them aside for what they can’t do, without ever “seeing” what they can.
 
Amazing.
 
Radio DJ Bernie Eagan on Overcoming Challenges of Blindness
 
Blind baseball announcer creates 'a theatre of the mind' with his colour commentary
 
 

 

May 25, 2017 9:39 am  #2


Re: Blind Radio People Don’t Let Lack Of Sight Stand In Their Way

I'm a legally blind fella with limited sight and I am astounded at how totally blind people in the industry can manage so well - especially now that computers have eliminated a lot of the tactile aspects of being on-air. Speaking from my own experience, creating routine while learning to problem solve on the fly is key to success.

I am curious to hear IG's take on this is as he is an excellent and successful Producer who happens to have a visual impairment. 

 

May 25, 2017 9:51 am  #3


Re: Blind Radio People Don’t Let Lack Of Sight Stand In Their Way

Wasn't there a blind radio personality in southern Ontario? Can't think of his name but I believe he was on one or more of the country music outlets?


"The radio craze ... will soon fade." - Thomas Edison, 1922
 

May 25, 2017 9:59 am  #4


Re: Blind Radio People Don’t Let Lack Of Sight Stand In Their Way

dwelsman wrote:

I'm a legally blind fella with limited sight and I am astounded at how totally blind people in the industry can manage so well - especially now that computers have eliminated a lot of the tactile aspects of being on-air. Speaking from my own experience, creating routine while learning to problem solve on the fly is key to success.

I am curious to hear IG's take on this is as he is an excellent and successful Producer who happens to have a visual impairment. 

I'm genuinely curious about this, so please excuse my ignorance, which I'm sure is plentiful. This is not an attempt in any way to make light of your situation. 

But I'd like to know: how do you function in a radio studio, with the various kinds of equipment, screens, boards, etc. needed to make the magic happen? I realize computers have made things easier, but how do you know where you are in the log or what's coming next, especially if something changes at the last minute? There are a lot of people in and out of a studio all day long, so what happens if they unthinkingly move something around and it's not where you thought it was?

You say you have limited sight, so I'm assuming from that you can see something. I wonder how a totally blind person manages. Yet, the cited articles indicate that they can. 

I have to give you credit - despite being an audio medium, radio inside a studio is still a visual one, with all the equipment you have to manipulate. People with a visual impairment who manage to carve out a successful career in an already difficult business are, to my mind, amazing. Maybe I'm making too much of this, but I, for one, am impressed.

     Thread Starter
 

May 25, 2017 10:07 am  #5


Re: Blind Radio People Don’t Let Lack Of Sight Stand In Their Way

Radio relies on sounds rather than visuals. 

 

May 25, 2017 10:11 am  #6


Re: Blind Radio People Don’t Let Lack Of Sight Stand In Their Way

grilled.cheese wrote:

Radio relies on sounds rather than visuals. 

On air, yes. But inside a studio, there's a ton of equipment and lots to read. I can't imagine trying to control everything from, say, VU meters to a board to commercial copy or liners without being able to see anything.  

     Thread Starter
 

May 25, 2017 10:34 am  #7


Re: Blind Radio People Don’t Let Lack Of Sight Stand In Their Way

I know some people with half a brain that are bored ops, so why can't a blind person do it?

 

May 25, 2017 10:35 am  #8


Re: Blind Radio People Don’t Let Lack Of Sight Stand In Their Way

I can't speak for people who are totally blind as I have about 15% vision but I imagine the tactics for getting work done are similar. I never really had much trouble with boards. Most of the time you only use maximum 4 pots and knobs during a shift and after awhile operating the board becomes instinctive.
I use(d) every visual aid technology available to me and back in the good old days of being on-air by myself, I would use them to magnify the logs so I could read them comfortably. I would often write out the order of songs on another piece of paper in larger font ahead of time. I also had to find a way to read liners and PSAs up close to my face without bumping the mic which I eventually figured out. It didn't look pretty... but it was radio, so if no one listening heard anything unusual, mission accomplished!

For me, anything that happened out of routine was a challenge (snow day cancellation listss come to mind) and if it was too much, I would often get another body in the room to help me sort it out.

These days I produce mainly pre-recorded material, so the spntaneity factor is greatly reduced. I'm not sad about that :-). 

I hope that is helpful.

 

June 1, 2017 7:58 pm  #9


Re: Blind Radio People Don’t Let Lack Of Sight Stand In Their Way


"The radio craze ... will soon fade." - Thomas Edison, 1922