Community South Orange

Due to Financial Hardship, EIES of NJ Suspends Broadcasts

EIES of New Jersey, which broadcasts news and radio shows across northern New Jersey as a service to the visually impaired, has temporarily suspended its daily broadcasts due to financial hardship.

In a recent phone conversation, EIES production manager Jeff Taylor told Village Green that EIES has been broadcasting since 1974, but currently has “nowhere near enough money to continue.”

According to its website, EIES’ “mission is to provide in an efficient manner, immediate, direct and convenient access to the printed word, to those individuals whose ability to read is severely impaired by a visual disability. Access is provided by utilizing state of the art electronic technology, including, but not limited to radio, cable TV/FM systems, and telephones and computerized telecommunications.”

Volunteers read news reports over the airwaves from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with a rebroadcast in the evening. EIES has also broadcast shows from the golden age of radio on Sundays.

EIES is a subcarrier of Seton Hall’s WSOU but listeners need to have a special receiver to access the broadcast (there are more than 2,000 receivers in homes and centers across North Jersey). Taylor said that EIES needs to update the way it broadcasts — “We need a greater emphasis on new technological communications” — and  noted that there could be underwriting opportunities for grantors who sponsor this technology.

Taylor said EIES raises money through individuals, corporations, foundations and community groups. Donors have included the Nicholas Martini Foundation, the Wallerstein Foundation for Geriatric Life, and the West Orange Lions Club. EIES only receives about $700-800 in federal funds each year.

EIES of NJ also enjoys a basically rent free situation at the Connett Building in South Orange through the generosity of the Township of South Orange; however, there is a catch: EIES must pay for the heat which Taylor said runs to about $2,000/month in the winter. When a new roof was installed on the Connett Building a couple of years ago, EIES temporarily relocated to Seton Hall’s radio station, but the situation was not ideal due to space issues and parking.

Taylor said that EIES is currently waiting on a couple of grants through litigation — as some gifts that were willed to the organization have been contested. However, he said, “We’re always by the skin of our teeth. There has to be big changes to the way we disseminate information and fundraise.”

Although they’re not broadcasting presently, Taylor said, “We’re still here answering the phone and emails.”
Taylor is part of a small staff that includes Executive Director Frank Scafidi, grant writer Victoria Bello, and part-time receptionist Pat Timen. In addition, hundreds of volunteers have helped over the last 50 years — many come from South Orange and Maplewood but also from other towns including Livingston and Morristown.

Township leaders say they are ready to help.

“EIES has been providing a valuable service to our communities, and I sincerely hope they will come back into full operation very soon,” Village Trustee Karen Hartshorn Hilton, who is also a former South Orange Library Board President, told Village Green. “The Village, through our Library, has been aiding their operations for many years by providing space to them in our Connett Memorial Library. It is my hope that we can work out some arrangement for their future.”

How can you help? Visit the EIES website to donate: eiesofnj.org. Or send a check made out to EIES of NJ to P.O. Box 411, South Orange 07079.

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