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The Top Ten List of 2013–It Was a Very Good Year!

Last month, every magazine WRBH received had a cover story that screamed Christmas.  After perusing 30 magazines with glossy pages of red and green and sparkles and getting thoroughly bored with cookies, a shift has occurred: all I see in January are lists, lists, and more lists–from People and Time to Entertainment Weekly and Newsweek and beyond, just about everything that’s been read on the air this week contained a rundown on the best and the worst of 2013.  Actually, l love lists, and even though I was disappointed to realize I had only seen one of the top ten movies of the year, I did manage to catch what was considered the unanimously worst event of 2013: Miley Cyrus twerking at the VMA’s,   Something good came out of it, however–one of my New Year’s resolutions is to go to more movies and watch less TV.

Luckily for WRBH, we didn’t have any twerking disasters, and since we’re radio, no one can judge what we are wearing in order to put us on any worst dressed lists, so the only 10 things on my list are good ones for the station.  Without further ado, here are the top ten happenings at WRBH for the year of 2013!

10. Our collaboration with HEROfarm, a marketing firm that took us on as an altruistic project and offered their expertise and advice for free, proved to be a huge asset to the station.  We followed their innovative lead and stepped up our social media input, adding daily Facebook and Twitter updates, and created a station blog in order to connect more with our listeners and spread the word about what’s happening at WRBH. HEROfarm was also the driving force and creative genius behind the new WRBH logo (see the top left corner of this page!) and tagline.  The changes have kept us current, brought us new listeners, and have also inspired everyone here to become more creative in the world of internet mass communication

9. In June, our intrepid chief engineer Tim Vogel attended the International Association of Audio Information Services conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and spent the days sharing ideas, gleaning information in classes, and commiserating with other engineers and employees in the same field.  As Tim put it, “It was a valuable experience to find out how others deal with the same problems and technical issues WRBH has in a non-competitive environment, and knowing that everything I learned would be vital to the station made it even more important.”

8. Although saying goodbye to Wayne Holmes was difficult, we were delighted to welcome a new employee to fill the void left by Wayne’s move to Austin.   Shaun Johnson has taken over the weekend and Tuesday-Wednesday evening shifts, and already has become a favorite of the volunteers.  Shaun is a delightful addition to the station’s staff, and if you haven’t met him yet, do yourself a favor and come in on a Saturday or Sunday to introduce yourself and say hi.

7. Another new addition to the station’s roster is David Benedetto, and this talented young man has already made himself indispensable.  David comes in two days a week, and in a few short months has already conducted a survey on the likes and dislikes of our listeners, began  an audio interview program with the volunteers (his first subject was Gavin Sutton), worked on fundraising and marketing, took over as the second Writers’ Forum host when Ted O’Brien resigned, and is an oenophile who gives great advice on wine choices.  Is there anything this redheaded wonder can’t do?

6. Facelift time!  The porch and front of the building got a makeover when water damage was discovered, and even though it was expensive, the place looks beautiful.  Nothing like a fresh coat of paint to lift your spirits and make you proud.

5. The Golf Tournament was also a smashing, albeit soggy success, with a record number of golfers who signed up (although not all of them stayed because the weather was so dreadful.)  The good sports who did thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  As usual, the beer was cold, the crawfish were hot, the oysters were salty, the sandwiches, pralines, cookies and chips were plentiful, and the prizes were greatly appreciated.  Along with raising a tidy sum for the station, the golf tournament has turned into a FUN raising event that we look forward to each spring.  Let’s just hope next year is a clear, sunny day!

4.   And speaking of funds: 2013 was a banner year for WRBH.  Executive Director Natalia Gonzalez used her financial savvy and grant writing wizardry to procure a steady flow of income that helped to provide the station with a comfortable cushion by the end of the year.  In a world filled with uncertainty and lurking disaster, it’s a great relief to know that  we aren’t facing 2014 in dire straits in the money department.  We offer thanks for the unflagging support and wise counsel of board member Paul Leaman, and express our sincerest gratitude to the individual donors, board members, benefactors, companies and corporations who so generously shared their wealth with us.  Our listeners, who rely on us to provide information and entertainment, are also grateful.

3. Notice anything different?  Our gorgeous new sign practically stops traffic on Magazine Street with its good looks and cool new logo.  I can’t tell you how many people have asked if we just moved to 3606 Magazine, since they had never really seen us before.  The beloved old sign had a lovely, respectful sendoff when it was auctioned off at the fundraising dinner, and in an act of kindness, the generous buyer graciously donated her new purchase to board member Don Banning.  Which brings me to…

2. A BLIND TASTE.  The fundraising dinner was, as Natalia put it, “…a magical night.”  Elegantly dressed diners were blindfolded in order to experience the meal as a sightless person would, making it an unusually memorable and moving experience.  The dinner was held at La Petite Grocery, and chef Justin Devillier’s delectable five course meal was enhanced by wines paired with the dishes on the menu.  The sold out event was the culmination of  many months of hard work and extensive planning by event coordinator Rachel Stickney and her committee, and Charles Smith and Angela Hill were lively and hilarious auctioneers.  Such a remarkable evening!

1. Lastly, the top of the list takes me to the best thing about WRBH this year and every year– our volunteers.  Our cadre of talented men and women provide the very lifeblood of the station, and are a bunch of funny, interesting, intelligent and quirky characters to boot.  As a group, you gave infinite hours of enjoyment and fascination to people you have never met in person, simply because you are good at heart.  It isn’t always easy to devote an hour of a busy day to a book or magazine, but because you are such a generous and giving bunch, the studios in 2013 were almost always in use and we had to call a moratorium on taking new volunteers for six months.  Thank you, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

May 2014 be just as wonderful!

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WRBH 88.3 FM, Radio for the Blind and Print Handicapped, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and is the only full-time reading service on the FM dial in the United States. At WRBH, our mission is to turn the printed word into the spoken word so that the blind and print handicapped receive the same ease of access to current information as their sighted peers.

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