Florida stations to collaborate to save SightLine reading service

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Here’s some actual good news coming in the wake of the Florida state funding elimination. WSRE-FM in Pensacola won’t have to discontinue the longtime SightLine daily reading service for listeners with visual impairments after all, reports the North Escambia news website. WUWF-FM, University of West Florida’s UWF Public Media, approached the station with the suggestion to relocate the reading service and coordinating responsibilities there, but continue to use WSRE’s SAP (Second Audio Program) channel to deliver the service as it has for nearly two decades. (Although it had been impacted by state cuts, WUWF wasn’t hit quite as hard as WSRE.)

WSRE agreed to the joint effort, and the two have even added a new program, The Radio Reader with Dick Estell, a daily half-hour pubradio show featuring newly published books. WUWF also is dedicating a digital radio broadcast channel (WUWF HD-3) to the reading service and will be streaming it online.

“This is a great opportunity for us to work with our public television colleagues in continuing an important community service,” said Pat Crawford, WUWF executive director. Sandy Cesaretti Ray, g.m. at WSRE, said, “We did not want to see the 19-year service end. This kind of collaboration is a win-win for all involved.” WSRE also laid off five employees and made programming cuts in June due to the state funding situation.

The collaborative service will launch in September.