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Volunteer your voice

July 28, 2016

niris-logoWNIJ 89.5 FM is seeking volunteers for the Northern Illinois Radio Information Service (NIRIS).

NIRIS is a unique broadcast service which provides current print information to blind and print-impaired citizens in the region.

Volunteers are essential to the service and the station is looking for new recruits: NIRIS volunteers contribute their time and talent by regularly visiting the WNIJ studios in DeKalb to do live readings of newspaper and magazine articles on the air.

Many NIRIS listeners would not receive neighborhood news, obituaries and information about community events without the service.

Staci Hoste, director and general manager of the station, calls NIRIS and the volunteers who support it important.

“As a public radio station, WNIJ is committed to providing accurate, essential and relevant presentations of local, national and international news to the communities we serve,” Hoste says. “NIRIS helps us reach a community of people who otherwise would not have access to this information. Volunteers are essential to NIRIS and because we need more of them to better serve our print-impaired listeners, we’re working to make it easier for you to help.”

microphoneFor example, a growing group of volunteers use technology to read for NIRIS from home, and WNIJ plans to harness this capability to expand the volunteer core. Moreover, the station aims to recruit and engage NIU student volunteers who are looking for practical experience in broadcasting, voice training and journalism.

“I have so much appreciation for the years of support for the service from a dedicated team of volunteers,” Hoste says.

Rockford resident Ty Hillman is one of many long-time supporters of the station who volunteers his time with NIRIS. “The personal connection you feel as you record a program is hard to describe, knowing that you’re doing something to help another person,” Hillman says. “It’s a really good feeling.”

To volunteer for this important service, visit or call Phil Masterton at (815) 972-2955. More information about other volunteer opportunities is available online.