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Broadcasting for sight impaired in central Mass.

Vince Lombardi (Photos/submitted)

By Ed Karvoski Jr., Culture Editor

Worcester – After a career working in printing and publishing, Vince Lombardi of Worcester pursued his interest in the arts with a focus on voice work. Now, he’s director of the Worcester-based Audio Journal, a nonprofit radio reading service for blind, visually impaired and print disabled listeners throughout central Massachusetts. It’s one of five Talking Information Center affiliates with others based in Lowell, Mashpee, Pittsfield and Springfield.

Lombardi became aware of Audio Journal when his oldest daughter volunteered as a reader while in high school. When she began college, he started volunteering as a reader in 1995.

“I always loved the medium of radio, so I thought I could do this,” he said. “It was a time when I was floundering and it really made a big difference in my career and my life personally. As I always try to preach to my kids, doing something with your talents that’s meaningful is so much more rewarding.”

In 1999, Lombardi became the Audio Journal director. He’s currently one of a staff of two. Valerie Clapham is the volunteer coordinator. Lombardi appreciates the volunteers serving as readers and board members.

“The real engine making everything run is our 150 or so volunteers doing the work,” he said. “A good portion of our volunteers are retired folks. Volunteering is a demanding activity. You’ve got to be dependable, be here on time, prepare before you get on the air and be able to take some direction. Several of our volunteers have been here for 20-plus years. It’s a very challenging and enriching activity that makes a difference in somebody’s life.”

Volunteers read the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Worcester Business Journal and over 30 local community newspapers. Among the subjects of specialty programs are cooking, sports and travel. For the “Speaking Volumes” program, volunteers discuss books that are available in audio format and listeners can call to share their input.

“A lot of our listeners had been avid readers,” Lombardi noted. “They still want to know about the printed word.”

Audio Journal also offers entertainment programming including “Radio-Active Theater.” About 30 volunteer actors present theater ranging from old-time radio to contemporary original scripts.

“The news isn’t all that cheerful these days,” Lombardi said, “so this gives our listeners a contrast, something light.”

Listeners can access Audio Journal through four methods. Specially-tuned radio-receivers are provided free of charge on which broadcasts are heard via the subcarrier frequency of Worcester’s WICN Public Radio, 90.5 FM. It’s aired on 42 local public-access television channels. Broadcasts are streamed live on its website with about 90 percent of programming archived. It’s also streamed by telephone at 712-832-7025.

The accomplishment of which Lombardi is most proud since serving as director is establishing a totally accessible studio at 799 W. Boylston St. in Worcester.

“We are accessible so people with wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, crutches, and blind individuals are all part of our volunteer and board mix,” he said. “People we serve can actually be a part of what we’re doing.”

Soon after Lombardi began his involvement with Audio Journal, he started volunteering at WICN in 1996. Since the fall of 2015 he’s been hosting the jazz program “Standard Time” on Thursdays from 3 to 6 p.m. His schedule also includes audio describing at theaters and other venues, serving as a Worcester Art Museum corporator and ArtsWorcester member.

“When you find something you love to do, then you’ll find the time to do it,” he said. “Volunteering gives you the opportunity to expand and explore with no big pressure other than your time.”

For more information, visit and on Facebook at To volunteer, call 508-797-1117.

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