Central Minnesota Audio Newspapers serves the community from Stewart Hall

Stewart Hall is home to KVSC radio, which is where CMAN records their newspapers. Photo courtesty of stcloudstate.edu

The Central Minnesota Audio Newspapers (CMAN) organization has been serving the visually impaired for 21 years by providing the local news in an audio format. 

This program was started by Bernie McDonald, the wife of former University President Brendan McDonald in conjunction with the Mass Communications Department, the State Services for the Blind, the Retired and Seniors Volunteer Program, and the St. Cloud Area School District. Brendan McDonald served as the president of St. Cloud State from 1982 to 1992. 

Bernie McDonald wanted to start this program because her husband lost his sense of sight and he missed reading the daily newspaper. 

Last October, CMAN changed their systems of broadcasting to their listeners, upgrading from special radio receivers to livestreaming their recorded readings of the local newspapers. Before the change, there were roughly 75 listeners around the area; more people are able to utilize the service now that the recordings can be livestreamed. 

The organization is run by Rita Woeste, who schedules volunteers and manages the logistics of the program, and Maggie Kraemer, who coordinates volunteer auditions. Those interested in volunteering can reach out to Woeste directly at (320) 293-2273 or via email at ritawoeste@gmail.com.

Those interested in volunteering need to pass the test, which involves going to the KVSC radio station in Stewart Hall and recording their reading for about 15 minutes. The overarching organization in St. Paul reviews the recordings and approves the volunteers. KVSC provides space and technological assistance for the organization to run smoothly. 

Volunteers are able to choose their own schedule: reading once a month, once a week, or more often. Typically the recordings are 1-2 hours per day. Readers are scheduled seven days a week. The biggest requirement for volunteers is that they are able to make a long term commitment, at least nine months, or the academic year, shared Woeste.

The reader each day will always read the St. Cloud Times stories that are written by St. Cloud reporters, as well as circling through local newspapers in a 50 mile radius including: the Sartell Newsleaders, the Sauk Rapids Herald, the Long Prairie Leader, and the St. Joseph Newsleaders.

There are currently around 40 volunteers who take turns reading each day. While numbers were higher before the pandemic, there are still new volunteers signing up. 

Jo McMullen-Boyer is the station manager at KVSC. She commented on the impact this service has on our community.

“It’s a neat program that I think serves an audience that needs to be served,” shared McMullen-Boyer.

This article was updated April 9, 2020 at 7:30 a.m. to better reflect a job description.

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Anna Panek

Anna is a junior at St. Cloud State University and is double majoring in Math Education and Spanish Education, with a minor in Special Education. She is the Managing Editor for the University Chronicle this year. When she is not at campus attending class, working as a learning assistant or math tutor, or writing for the University Chronicle, she enjoys volunteering, reading, being overly competitive at board games, and telling horribly funny puns.

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