Breaking Barriers: Luke Fortner’s Sports Radio Beginnings

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Luke Fortner, a young man with a passion for sports radio, was given a unique opportunity to turn his dream into reality. Patty Scarlata, Luke’s Community Habilitation facilitator who is dedicated to fostering his independence and community involvement, took the initiative to contact every local radio station in town. Patty found a receptive ear in Bo Jaxon from WBEE 92.5 and WROC 95.7. Bo enthusiastically opened the doors of WROC 95.7 The Fan Rochester to Luke for the day.

Throughout their day at the studio, Bo went above and beyond to ensure that Luke, who is visually impaired, had a truly immersive experience. With detailed descriptions of the various studios and equipment, Luke was able to visualize his surroundings despite his visual limitations. This thoughtful gesture not only demonstrated Bo’s professionalism but also his dedication to making Luke’s visit truly unforgettable.

During their time together, Bo and Luke embarked on a memorable experience by recording an off-air sports talk show. To Luke’s amazement, he accurately predicted that Alabama would emerge victorious in a match against Georgia in college football. This impressive display of sports knowledge further fueled his excitement for the world of sports radio.

The impact of this experience on Luke and his family was immeasurable. His parents, Mike, and Cindy expressed their deep gratitude for this wonderful opportunity. They emphasized that for many visually impaired individuals, radio serves as a crucial link to the world, offering both entertainment and information. In her article for Radio World, Donna L. Halper agrees and points out a deep historical connection, mentioning that news articles in the 1920s referred to the connection as “radio a godsend for the blind.”

Even though podcasts have become popular, Rick Morin notes, “most blind people I know still listen to some form of radio…” Particularly, sports and news broadcasts stand out, as announcers play a crucial role in setting the scene, allowing visually impaired individuals to fully immerse themselves in the content.

Numerous individuals with visual impairments have found their place in the broadcasting industry. Take Michael Golder, a self-proclaimed blind radio host, for instance. He takes charge of the show “Blind and Beyond” on WOKB 1680 AM radio in Orlando, Florida. With a mission to inspire the low-vision, visually impaired, and blind community, Michael is just one example of many visually impaired individuals who are making a significant impact in the broadcasting community.

Luke’s journey into the world of sports radio is just beginning, but his enthusiasm, coupled with his impressive sports knowledge, suggests a promising future. With the continued guidance and mentorship from individuals like Bo Jaxon, and the unwavering support from people like Patty Scarlata, Luke’s dream of contributing to sports radio is very much within his grasp.

Sources:
Halper, Donna L. “Radio and the Blind: An Evolving Relationship.” Radio World, 17 May 2023, www.radioworld.com/news-and-business/programming-and-sales/radio-and-the-blind-an-evolving-relationship#:~:text=In%20the%201920s%2C%20newspaper%20articles,variety%20of%20occupations%2C%20including%20broadcasting.
Henkler, Ed, and Entertainment Choices When Blind – The Blind Guide says: “Radio Show for the Blind: Thriving with Vision Loss.” The Blind Guide, theblindguide.com/radio-show-blind-thriving-vision-loss/#:~:text=Meet%20Michael%20Golder.,visually%20impaired%20and%20blind%20community. Accessed 29 Dec. 2023.