Tune into 88.3 FM and you'll hear the city's — and the country's — only full-time FM dial reading radio. Twice daily, volunteer readers read from The Times-Picayune. But WRBH-FM, known as "Radio for the Blind and Print Handicapped," is preparing to adjust its programming when The Times-Picayune moves to a three-days-a-week publishing schedule. WRBH currently reads to more than 11,600 listeners on weekdays, when two volunteer readers read, live on the air, select headlines and stories from the daily paper.
The station, which celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, provides blind and visually impaired listeners of all ages with access to 'round-the-clock content, from national publications (monthly and weekly magazines) and best-selling nonfiction and fiction to local news provided by The Times-Picayune, read daily from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on weekends, with repeats at 6 p.m. (weekdays) and 1 a.m. (weekends). More than 1,000 listeners tune in on Saturdays, and 4,000 tune in on Sundays. It also streams its content online.
"There's a lot of 'scissor work' involved. It's our only live program," said executive director Natalia Gonzalez. "We do headline news, local news, sports, and entertainment and columns. It's our intention to attempt the same format, but a lot of that depends exactly on what NOLA.com will give us."
Since I had double jaw surgery, two (or three?) teeth removed and a three pint blood transfusion on Friday, my face is ridiculously swollen and I keep nodding off. I don't want to scare anyone with my face and would rather not fall asleep on the bus, so instead of blogging about a particular route this week, I'm recapping our adventures so far, sharing some public transit tips and giving you a preview of what's to come.
Given our recent Katrina experiences, New Orleans people know all about welcoming back beloved neighborhood institutions that had to go dark for a while. Tomorrow, however, one of the heavyweights of the neighborhood institution genre will go through that reopening ritual for the second time.
Rocky & Carlo’s (613 W. St. Bernard Hwy., Chalmette, 279-8323), easily the best-known and most important restaurant in St. Bernard Parish, has been closed since a fire in February devastated its building. The family owners will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, May 29, at 10:30 a.m. and then lunch will commence at 11 a.m., with po-boys, heaving plates of Sicilian classics and the restaurant’s trademark, tube-style macaroni and cheese (with red or brown gravy) once again issuing from the cafeteria-style service line.
Many newsroom employees spent their Memorial Day weekend updating resumes, obtaining copies of their clips, networking by telephone and social media and following job leads in New Orleans and elsewhere.
At the meetings, Advance, which owns The Times-Picayune, will reportedly offer severance packages to some employees, while tendering job offers to others. Job descriptions will likely be revised, and those who receive offers to stay will likely have to reapply for the new positions within the newly created NOLA Media Group.
Sources also say a number of entirely new people may be hired to contribute content to the company’s online operation, particularly in the fields of sports and entertainment, which are a big part of the plan. Sports editor Doug Tatum and features editor Mark Lorando were among those included in the off-campus meetings held in the middle of the month, when the company’s new publisher, Ricky Mathews, came in to speak to senior officials.
The parameters and scope of the restructuring means those who stay with NOLA Media Group will be reporting news very differently. Reporters/content providers will move out of The Times-Picayune’s iconic building at 3800 Howard Avenue and into office space in downtown New Orleans, where they will file more frequent and likely smaller stories for NOLA.com, the paper’s online arm.
New Orleans filmmaker Benh Zeitlin won the coveted Camera d'Or prize at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival today for his new film Beasts of the Southern Wild. The Camera d'Or is awarded each year at Cannes to the best film by a first-time director. Beasts also won the grand jury prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival. It's very unusual for a film to win top awards at both Sundance and Cannes.
According to live blogging by England's daily national newspaper The Guardian, Zeitlin said "Thank you to everybody at home" even before remembering to thank the jury and the Festival.
This year's Palm d'Or—the top prize at Cannes—was awarded to Amour, by Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke.
What’s not clear is if The Times-Picayune will publish on the Mondays following the games.
At Thursday’s newsroom meeting, where editor Jim Amoss attempted to answer some questions about the transition, one person asked if the new schedule meant that there would be no Times-Picayune on the morning of Monday, February 4, the day after Super Bowl XLVII is played in the Superdome. Amoss did not have the answer, but said that the paper’s new schedule might allow for special editions.
Moreover, multiple sources within the paper’s sports department say that no word has come down to them as to whether they will be putting out a regular Monday print edition after Sunday Saints games. Sports editor Doug Tatum, who was included in the offsite meetings held last week where Advance Publications officials outlined the future of the company, has not returned Gambit’s call as of Saturday afternoon.
New Jersey-based Advance Publications, the parent company of THE TIMES-PICAYUNE, announced the paper would be going to a three-day-a-week printing schedule this fall, shifting focus and content to its online partner, NOLA.com. The paper’s staff, which already had been buffeted by buyouts, early retirements and furloughs in recent years, has now been told that many of them will lose their jobs. Those who are approved to remain will be invited to apply for employment with a new company, NOLA Media Group.
Our hearts and prayers go out to them. Business is business, but they have been treated shabbily by a company to which they have shown loyalty and, yes, love. They deserved better.
How did you prepare for your role?
Well, we worked with the person it actually happened to, so it’s not like we had to go out and search, because we were working with the person the story existed with. So we had the director, who was basically telling us how it all happened and what she experienced.
Did you work with a dialect coach or anything?
I worked with Sam Chwat, who is a wonderful dialect coach out of New York City who just died this year, sadly, and I’ve known him for over 30 years. I worked with him and worked with a local lady (Francine Segal). I worked with her and there was a woman from my hometown that was from Poland. She was an inspiration for me because there wasn’t a lot of time or money, so I was taking help from wherever I could get it.
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