C. Stanley Potter Award

The C. Stanley Potter Award is the highest award bestowed by The International Association of Audio Information Services (IAAIS). It is presented at the annual IAAIS Conference, to recognize and honor outstanding contributions to the Audio Information industry by an individual, group or organization. The award is not presented every year.

This award is presented to those who have demonstrated a deep commitment to innovative initiatives that not only empower audio information services, but also advance the industry and ultimately benefit people who need access to information in audio format.

Award Recipients

1982- C. Stanley Potter

(1917-1988) Reading a best seller, flipping through the pages of a magazine, scanning the headlines of a favorite newspaper–for people with impaired vision, these experiences are difficult, if not impossible. In 1969, C. Stanley Potter, an amateur radio enthusiast with impaired vision, developed a solution to this problem. With his friend Bob Watson, a former neighbor who was working for NASA as an engineer, Stan developed the first Radio Reading Service (RRS) in the world, using the FM subcarriers of Minnesota Public Radio.

Stan Potter and his brother, Bill, were both legally blind. After spending time at the Minnesota School for the Blind in Faribault, Stan and Bill persuaded their parents to move to St. Cloud, where the boys were mainstreamed in public schools. Stan went on to complete Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at public colleges; for his dissertation, he transcribed the first Braille version of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. Stan was director of the Minnesota State Services for the Blind from 1948 until 1985. It was during this time that he and Bob Watson introduced their radio station that would start a movement to change lives worldwide.

1983- Durwood McDaniel
Durwood McDaniel (1915-1994) attended the Oklahoma School for the Blind, the University of Oklahoma and its law school. He opened a law office in Oklahoma City and qualified to practice before the Supreme Court. In 1949 he co-founded the Oklahoma League for the Blind and served as president of the Oklahoma Council of the Blind from 1947 to 1950.

Durwood McDaniel has been credited with being one of the primary forces in the movement to found the American Council of the Blind. He served as its first national representative in Washington and as its Vice President. In 1969 the first special interest affiliates were formed, and ACB was off and running. For a time, he was editor of The Braille Forum.

A founding member of IAAIS, and a board member and Vice President for many years, Durwood wrote the original by-laws, and was the organization parliamentarian.

1984- Jim Jones
Jim Jones was the founder of New York City’s In Touch Networks (now GateWave).  Jim was one of the early IAAIS board members, and helped in much of the organizational work that created our organization.

The 1984 award was issued posthumously.

1985- David Bruger
David Bruger represented the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In the seventies and eighties, CPB was very supportive of the RRS movement and IAAIS. They published the first “How to Start a Radio Reading Service” book which many early services found invaluable.

With David’s help, CPB also provided funding to the original Program Exchange, a tape duplication facility operated in Kansas, and In Touch Satellite services, one of the first nation-wide delivery systems for radio reading.

1986- Rosie Hurwitz
The first research project on reading to the blind by radio began in 1965 in Lawrence, Kansas. In late 1971, Audio-Reader took to the air. Rosie Hurwitz was appointed director in 1974, and set about to give the Radio Reading Service a more prominent profile and permanent funding. She worked closely with Stan Potter to create a national organization of Radio Reading Services. Stan was the first President of Association of Radio Reading Services (ARRS), and Rosie was the second.

During her term as President, she continued a nationally, her campaign to develop recognition and respect for the industry. She made FCC recognition and protection of Radio Reading Services a top priority. Her lobbying brought the first of many PTFP grants to Radio Reading Services, got the Corporation for Public Broadcasting involved in radio reading, and led to the drafting of FCC 82-1, the ruling that any station planning to sell or lease one or more of their SCA channels must first make one available to a Radio Reading Service, if requested.

Rosie was also instrumental in getting the FCC to stop price gouging in the SCA business; they issued a ruling that no radio station could charge a reading service more for the SCA than it actually costs them to operate it.

1987- Daniel Schorr
Daniel Schorr was the banquet speaker at the ARRS 1987 conference, in Washington DC. The award was a recognition of his general contribution to the radio media. This award was given before the current criteria for the award existed.

Daniel Schorr was a longtime senior news analyst for NPR and a veteran Washington journalist who broke major stories at home and abroad during the Cold War and Watergate. Schorr’s 20-year career as a foreign correspondent began in 1946. Schorr joined CBS News in 1953 as one of “Murrow’s boys,” the celebrated news team put together by Edward R. Murrow. Ten years later, Schorr scored an exclusive broadcast interview with Nikita Khrushchev, the U.S.S.R. Communist Party chief — the first-ever with a Soviet leader. Schorr was barred from the U.S.S.R. later that year after repeatedly defying Soviet censors.

Schorr won Emmys in each of the Watergate years of 1972, 1973 and 1974. Over the course of his long career, he was honored with numerous other decorations and awards, including a Peabody for “a lifetime of uncompromising reporting of the highest integrity.” Schorr was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Society of Professional Journalists.

While working in Washington, Schorr became acquainted with the work of Radio Reading Services, and became an advocate, speaking at our convention and using his Washington connections to help ARRS navigate the halls of the FCC, CPB and the House and the Senate.

1988- Travis Harris
The third Radio Reading Service in the world went on the air in Oklahoma City, directed by Travis Harris. He must have had it in his genes, because his cousin George Harris founded the Radio Reading Service in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania some years later.

The Oklahoma service was again different from the others; it was the first affiliated with the Library for the Blind. (Of the first four reading services there were three different organizational structures and affiliations. This diversity of organization persists to this day.)

Though the Oklahoma service lasted quite a while, and even hosted an IAAIS conference in 1981, it went dark in the early nineties through lack of funding. Once Travis Harris died, there just wasn’t another leader available to keep the dream alive, until Jay Doudna arrived to take on the task in 2009.

1989- Robert Watson
When Bob was 14, he obtained a job delivering milk. One of his customers had a roof full of interesting antennas, and as a ham radio operator, Bob introduced himself to Stan Potter. Before he was out of high school, Bob helped Stan create the Hamm Recording Project, obtaining early tape recorders and disc-cutting lathes and creating recordings of Minnesota news and writings for distribution to blind people across the state. Bob served in the Navy on a nuclear submarine, and then returned to a job with Honeywell Aerospace. In 1968, Stan asked Bob why SCA channels on FM radio, used for background music, couldn’t be used to deliver voice readings. Bob set about to make it work, and on January 2, 1969, the first full-time Radio Reading Service went on the air, using the stations of Minnesota Public Radio. Before Bob retired, he had moved signal distribution onto satellite. Bob also gave much of his time to ARRS and its member services as a technical advisor.

Bob was one of the charter staff of the first RRS ever, Minnesota Radio Talking Book. He worked directly with Stan Potter, the award’s namesake, and personally was the most responsible for the development of the consumer grade SCA receiver we all used and handed out to our listeners for decades. He helped to create the Norver receiver, the original SCA receiver, still in use in some places.

Bob joined the board of IAAIS in the eighties and served as Treasurer. He was instrumental in the various technical battles with the FCC resulting in much of the technical underpinning we all take for granted. He was the first to suggest that AIS needed its own spectrum space and a safe-haven from unfair commercial competition.

1990- William Gallagher
Bill was the Executive Director of the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). AFB was instrumental during the early development of radio reading, and is still heavily involved with information access issues for blind people. AFB worked along with CPB to create the first “how to” handbook used by many fledgling services in the 1970s.

AFB produced the first national public affairs program specifically for Radio Reading Services called Sound Track in the late 1970s. The very rapid growth of Audio Information Services during the 70s and early 80s had a lot to do with AFB support and participation.

1991- Dr. Elmer Fischer
Dr. Elmer Fischer was the founder and Director of Radio Reading Services of Cincinnati when Radio Reading Services across the country started to get together to ponder the creation of a national organization. Elmer was an early board member and Vice President of ARRS (Later NARRS, and then IAAIS).

Dr. Fischer also founded the ORRS (the Ohio statewide association network of Radio Reading Services).

1992- Dede Pearse
Dede Pearse was the long-time Director of Sun Sounds of Arizona, and under her direction the Arizona service spread across the state and became a national leader in innovation and quality. Dede was part of the group that hammered out the original concept of a national organization, and served on the board.

From 1988 to 1990, Dede Pearse served as President of IAAIS.

1994- Louise Rude
In the early days of radio reading, many small services felt isolated, challenged to cover large geographic areas with small budgets, and far away from anyone who can offer help and guidance. This must have been especially true for Louise Rude, who founded the Alaska Radio Reading Service. Louise was an energetic advocate for blind people in general, and bringing radio reading to the state was just one of her many accomplishments.

The 1994 C. Stanley Potter Award was accepted by associate Sandy Sanderson, because Louise was too ill to attend that year’s conference.

1995- Marcia Jonke & Lynn Brewer
Across the country in the 70s and 80s, Radio Reading Services were springing up. Structures of the organizations varied wildly; services were part of libraries, libraries for the blind, independent public radio stations, universities, junior colleges, state agencies for the blind, United Way agencies, and stand-alone nonprofits. All of whom faced the big question – how to fund the service daily.

Marcia Jonke founded the Akron, Ohio Radio Reading Service, and launched a long-running bingo game which provided most of the funding for many years. Marcia was involved early on as a staff member in the Cleveland RRS. She served actively on the IAAIS board, and was much beloved for her habit of single-handedly funding the “hospitality room” at the annual IAAIS conference.

Marcia was an activist in fighting for the rights and survival of Radio Reading Services. Her service initiated the actions that resulted in FCC decision 82-1 and forced protection in the public FM band for Radio Reading Services and the FCC ruling that radio reading services could not be gouged by public radio stations.

Lynn Brewer was Marcia’s constant companion at IAAIS conferences, and they had worked together at the Cleveland RRS. There is hardly a bigger accomplishment in non-profit funding than creating a major annual event that becomes a part of the social life of one’s city, and Lynn did exactly that. She created a “Fur Sale,” selling incredibly opulent fur coats she had convinced people to donate. The annual fur sale was a major event requiring heavy security and careful organization.

1996- William S. Pasco
Bill Pasco has been involved in the operations and management of Radio Reading Services in Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Phoenix since 1975. He was instrumental in the development of guidelines for good practice for Audio Information Services and promulgated many of the philosophies and programming concepts generally accepted as standards throughout the industry.

Bill served on the board of IAAIS for 12 years, and as its President from 1992 to 1996. Bill is a past Chairman of the Arizona Governor’s Council on Blindness and Visual Impairment and is the former Director of Sun Sounds of Arizona, which operates a network of four Radio Reading Services and a dial-up/Internet service.

1998- Jay Doudna
The first Radio Reading Service to go on the air in Pennsylvania was in the small town of Lancaster, in April 1973. Unlike any of its predecessors, it was owned and operated by a local blindness agency. This was a model which would become popular. Jay Doudna was hired two months later to run the station.

Jay went on to launch the station in Philadelphia in August 1974, and founded the Pennsylvania Association of Radio Reading Services in 1978. He served very actively on the IAAIS board during those years, and is again working closely with IAAIS. He relocated to Oklahoma City and worked with the State Library to re-launch a modernized Audio Information Service in the state which later closed due to funding issues.

1999- Art Hadley & Steve Kincaid
Art and Steve spent most of their adult lives as engineers for the Kansas Audio-Reader Network, innovating many methods for distributing audio on the lowest possible budget. Art used a Commodore Pet computer to create a low-cost broadcast automation system at a time when professional systems could top a hundred thousand dollars. (This is the one obstacle that kept most reading services from broadcasting 24 hours a day.) Art has provided onsite help and advice for reading services in Colorado, Utah, Hawai’i, Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama. Art has also served as M.C. at many IAAIS awards banquets.

Steve Kincaid was the author of the database “DBRRS,” the first software designed specifically for Radio Reading Services, which allowed receivers to be more accurately tracked. Steve is also the creator of Telephone Reader, a sophisticated yet easy-to-operate telephone-based reading system now installed in cities all over the U.S. He has also worked with WireReady for years helping reading services become automated. Steve worked closely with the manufacturers of various kinds of hardware, and helped Frank Karkota develop the Compol receiver, one of the highest-quality radios ever available to reading services.

With the generous support of their employer, Audio-Reader and the University of Kansas, Steve and Art have shared their knowledge, expertise and technical developments freely with the radio reading industry at large. They have been influential in helping IAAIS and its member stations stay abreast of technical progress, participating as members of the IAAIS community, lecturing at conferences, and consulting with other stations by phone.

2000- Bob Brummond
Bob Brummond founded R.A.I.S.E., the Asheville, North Carolina Radio Reading Service (now known as Mountain Area Radio Reading Service, MARRS). He was a long-time member of IAAIS, serving on the board in the early nineties.

Bob was one of the first IAAIS members to recognize the possibilities of using the internet to get programming to print-impaired individuals and the reading services that serve them. He followed the earliest developments in Internet “Radio” receivers, and arranged demonstrations at the IAAIS conferences.

When Bob first conceived of a central server to distribute Reading Service Programs, few of us had fast internet connections, and nobody knew how it could work. Bob visualized schemes that were wholly internet-based, a telephone browser (developed into the Sun Dial system by Arizona’s Sun Sounds) and ways to utilize the NPR satellite system.

When the National Association of Radio Reading Services changed its name to the International Association of Audio Information Services, Bob was one of the motivators. He acted as an ambassador to people from all over the world who came to our conferences to learn how they could provide reading services in their communities, and he helped open our eyes to the fact that our future will be filled with opportunities and challenges as FM subcarriers cease to be the dominant way to reach our listeners.

2002- David Noble
David Noble has spent a quarter century working in the radio reading and information access industry. Aside from having a day job of his own (at Sun Sounds in Tempe), David has spent countless hours innovating and working on IAAIS projects, including mentoring in the areas of listener service, marketing, and fundraising. He was one of the first instructors for IAAIS to the United States Telecommunications Training Institute (USTTI).

Dave served IAAIS on various committees and as Treasurer, and was elected President just as new “low power FM” regulations threatened to interfere with many Radio Reading Services. Dave made sure IAAIS was represented when the FCC made final decisions. His contacts and lobbying skills made new inroads in leveraging IAAIS’ positions with external agencies and the government.

After his presidency ended, Dave’s involvement in IAAIS continued full steam. He has served as Nominating Committee Chair, and as Chair for the Government Affairs Committee, and delivered an energetic opening speech at the 2010 conference in Dallas.

2003- Dr. Margaret Pfanstiehl
Dr. Margaret Pfanstiehl was on the cutting edge of the information access movement. Margaret is the founder and President of the Metropolitan Washington Ear which was one of the early organizations to launch a Radio Reading Service in the 1970s.

The Washington Ear pioneered many of the innovations in radio reading which are now taken for granted among radio reading stations in general. The Ear was one of the first reading organizations to recognize that reading services have an obligation to be activist organizations promoting the independence of print-disabled people through information access.

Margaret was one of the founding members of the organization we now call IAAIS. It was during a Washington D.C. conference hosted by the Ear (and Margaret), that the organization came into being, in 1977. She was an early board member and officer for the Association, helping to create much of the association’s philosophy and infrastructure which were built on to bring us to the organization we have today.

In the mid-1980s when the concept of dial-up reading services was first introduced, she was one of the first and most outspoken advocates of the concept. She launched one of the first dial-in systems in the country.

Again, not being content to sit on her laurels, Margaret pioneered another variation in the field of information access; she introduced the idea of Audio Description. At first, it had nothing to do with television, but, rather, she began organizing and training people to provide description in the live theater. The idea rapidly jumped from that limited application of description to television, museum and movie description. Margaret’s methods were adopted by many other organizations across the country, not the least of which was WGBH, the primary proponent and producer of descriptive video.

2004- Mike Starling
The purpose of the Award is to honor outstanding contributions to the audio information industry. Mike Starling not only served IAAIS on its Board of Directors, he has also served IAAIS in his work outside Audio Information Services.   He has contributed to the growth of this industry by helping to represent its mission and purpose to the Federal Communications Commission and the leadership of the non-commercial radio industry, and by educating us on those things outside our sphere of knowledge.

Mike has served in key roles that contributed to the industry’s success in protecting existing Radio Reading Services from the potentially harmful effects of Low Power FM stations.  He champions IAAIS within the public radio system, and is instrumental in helping IAAIS members meet with and educate leaders in the broadcast industry.

Mike brings expertise from both his legal training and his broadcast engineering background, often used to develop language for various filings and pleadings for IAAIS with the Federal Communications Commission filings. He formulated position statements that were irrefutable for their concise logic, broadcast engineering expertise, and plain old good sense.

Mike spearheaded the NPR-led “Tomorrow Radio Project.”  While its best-known purpose is to test the ability to send more than one signal through the new digital radio system, he built into the planning a home for Radio Reading Services.  Because he meant for reading services to be included in the plan from day one, the developers of the digital radio system at iBiquity, and manufacturers like Kenwood received clear messages that public radio and reading services were to move into the future of radio together.

2010- David Andrews
David Andrews took his Master’s and headed into commercial broadcasting at an early age, but since then he has spent his life working for Audio Information Services and bringing technology to blind people. For fifteen years, he’s been a part of Minnesota State Services for the Blind, first as Director of the Communications Center, and then as Chief Technology Officer. One of his biggest projects includes the development of the incredible Minnesota reading service digital receiver. He also administers the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) mailing list.

Dave’s travels around the country have brought technological innovation to every city he’s visited. He served as Volunteer Coordinator, then as a Program Producer, and eventually Director of Kansas Audio-Reader, and Director of the Chicagoland Radio Information Service. When the FCC approved TV stereo, David created Audiovision, the first TV SAP-based reading service for the New Jersey Library for the Blind and Handicapped, in a market where no SCA was available.

In Albuquerque, David established one of the first telephone-based dial-in information systems, with a closet full of hard drives that totaled a whopping 8 GB of memory!

Dave also brought his expertise to Baltimore, where he served for several years as the Director of the International Braille and Technology Center for the National Federation of the Blind, and has been recently consulting with the government of China on creating Radio Reading Services in that country.

2011- Heather Lusignan

2011- Fr. Boni Wittenbrink, OMI

Fr. Boni Wittenbrink founded WMRY’s Talking Book (now MindsEye) serving the St. Louis region in 1973.  It was the first of it’s kind in Illinois.  Once access to newspapers was available to people who were blind in St. Louis, he made sure that they were available all over the country.  He appointed people to see to the daily operations of the Belleville station and began travelling the country giving guidance to those who wanted to bring radio reading services to their towns.  He took his knowledge wherever it was needed, from the big cities of Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago to the small town of Macomb, IL.  All 10 of the reading services of Illinois credit Fr. Boni as having a significant impact on their own founder.  His influence reached outside of his home country, he was InTouch with the founders of the Canadian broadcasts and he even hosted visitors from the Philippines who were interested in bringing the concept to their home.  He was eventually honored by the Ophthalmological Society of the Philippines his work on behalf of people who are blind in that country.

Fr. Boni joined forces with C. Stanley Potter and the other founders to start what is now the IAAIS.  He was the group’s first secretary and Belleville was the site of the first national conference.

He served on the Radio Educational Committee of the American Council of the Blind and the Radio Talking Book Committee of the American Foundation of the Blind and the Library of Congress, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare as well as several national congressional committees to assert the need for reading services.

At his heart, Fr. Boni was a fundraiser and tireless lobbyist.  In the early 1980’s, he travelled to Springfield, IL to meet the governor to request funding.  He worked through the system until he could secure an annual grant to fund each of the services in Illinois.  In setting up the grant, he also established, Illinois Radio Information Services, an association to encourage further development of reading services and their staff in Illinois.  The grant and the association continue to this day.

He also worked with the FCC to gain recognition of reading services on the SCA band.  On March 1, 1973, the day of his reading service’s founding, he received word from FCC Chairman saying, “The allocation of a sub-carrier wave to this type of community service illustrates the potential benefit to the public interest that can be derived from a truly productive broadcasting effort.”  It had taken Fr. Boni only one year to obtain his broadcast license, a phenomenon both then and now.

When Fr. Boni retired, he continued working on behalf of people with vision loss.  He was a strong supporter of the American Foundation for the Blind, Retinitis Pigmentosa International and many others.

2014- Lisa Bordner

Lisa Bordner ran the Fort Wayne, Indiana audio information service for several years.  The station experience rapid growth under her leadership.  She was quickly voted on to the IAAIS Board where she pushed for transparency and technological innovation.

Lisa chaired the Technology Committee and served on the Government Relations and Strategic Plan Committees.