Leading in Central MA: Audio Journal’s Vince Lombardi
Tuesday, September 03, 2013
Vince Lombardi is executive director of the Audio Journal. Audio Journal began broadcasting in 1987, 10 years after the inception of the Talking Information Center (TIC), established in Marshfield. Today, Audio Journal is one of five TIC affiliates and is specific to Central Massachusetts. He first became involved with Audio Journal as a volunteer in 1995 after being inspired by his oldest daughter, a former volunteer, who now works as a social worker.
A Conversation with Vince Lombardi
SW: As Executive Director of the Audio Journal, you are charged with getting information to residents with visual impairments. Can you explain how that is done?
VL: First, with the talent and efforts of over 170 volunteers – most of whom act as on-air readers. Audio Journal is a radio-reading service which provides 24 hour access to printed or visual information. We deliver the service by three methods: one, via specially tuned radios provided to anyone who could benefit at no cost; two, on cable access television in 36 Central Massachusetts communities; and three, streaming live on www.audiojournal.net. We also archive about 90% of our programming for service on demand and offer pod-casting capabilities.
SW: What information do you offer listeners?
VL: The bread and butter of our programming is the reading of current, local newspapers – from the Worcester Telegram & Gazette to over 30 community newspapers. We also produce general interest programs on topics such as history, science and travel. And then more specific interest programs on blindness, disability, and elder issues. Sundays we have children’s programs, Tuesdays our resident theatre troupe, Radio-Active Theatre, perform radio plays, and a reading in Spanish of Vocero Hispano is broadcast on Fridays. A full schedule is available on our website.
SW: What is on the drawing board now?
VL: Our most recent success story has been the development of an on-air book reading group entitled “Speaking Volumes.” Books available from the Talking Book Library are announced in advance and on the prescribed date are discussed by 6 or so volunteers in the studio with listeners having the opportunity to call in to join the conversation.
We are in discussion with Veterans, Inc. for a program highlighting their experiences and issues.
We are also looking at the possibility of broadcasting audio described movies, which would include the original audio sound track of a movie along with a professional description of the visual elements.
SW: How did your career begin and where?
VL: Prior to radio my career was in printing and publishing, first in New Jersey where I was raised, and then here in New England, where I moved to in 1976. Printing provided a great education in many areas, publishing seemed to be a natural evolution, and radio I just kind of fell into, thank goodness.
SW: What led you to your current career path?
VL: I followed in my oldest daughter’s footsteps and became a volunteer at Audio Journal who wouldn’t say “no”. It was such a nice fit for me. I’ve always loved the medium of radio and seemed to do a decent job. One thing led to another and in 1999 I became Director. This saved my life on many levels, and opened doors which have led to becoming a jazz host on WICN, and becoming a professional audio describer, working on live theatre, videos and museum tours.
SW: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Vince Lombardi?
VL: The variety of fun and challenges gives every day a special meaning. Never sure what’s going to be behind door #1. At a small nonprofit such as AJ, everyone wears many hats, so boredom is never as issue. There are budgets to plan, grants to write, volunteers to train, programs to develop and improve, presentations to groups, collaborations to nurture or establish, board members to work with, staff to manage, technology to keep up with, and dreams for the future. So I guess the short answer is I’m not sure there is a typical day.
SW: What is the something that few people know about you?
VL: Once upon a time, long, long ago, I was one of the fastest sprinters in New Jersey. No, wait, I think I’ve told everyone I know about that. I guess few people would know that my real name is Bill Belichick.
SW: How do you spend your free time?
VL: I love music, especially jazz, and get to as many live performances as possible. I also attend a great deal of theatre. I am obsessed with football…go figure…and love sports in general. I enjoy belonging to ArtsWorcester and work creating strange miniature clay sculptures. I visit art exhibits and galleries on a regular basis. I will be applying for a position with the Office of Disabilities for the city. And soak up the love of my family at every opportunity.
SW: What is your advice for helping the city to reach its full potential?
VL: I think Worcester has a wonderful energy. Keep progressing without forgetting the rich legacy of the city’s past. Preserve the wonderful architecture of our city, and take care when blending the new with the old. Be proud of what we produce here, materially, artistically and culturally. I would love to see Worcester become a model of accessibility for people with disabilities.
SW: Any special plans for your future?
VL: There is still plenty to do at Audio Journal – technology, outreach, inclusion, funding, employment training and programming – are all issues that require attention. I would love to get back into broadcasting play-by-play football for a local college. Eventually I’d like to establish my own production studio for audio description services.
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