Radio for Hard of Hearing People!

Radio for Hard of Hearing People!

April 2003

Editor: Radio for hard of hearing people? Sounds rather strange, doesn’t it? But it’s for real. Here’s an article from the Edmonton Journal (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) via bhNEWS. It seems that Auditory Adam is promoting a radio program for people with hearing loss!

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Auditory Adam keeps bass deep, tones low on university station

EDMONTON – Adam Ungstad’s hearing loss doesn’t stop him from listening to music — and sharing his favourite tunes with other hard of hearing people on the radio.

Sporting hearing aids on both ears, the University of Alberta student produces and hosts CJSR’s Hard of Hearing Radio show, believed to be Canada’s only radio program for people with hearing loss. The show is being picked up this summer by CJSF, the campus station at Simon Fraser University in B.C., and possibly CFCR, a community station in Saskatoon.

After Ungstad graduates this spring with a degree in management information systems, the 23-year-old plans to market the show across the country.

“I hope it’s something a lot of people latch onto,” says Ungstad, sitting in the basement bedroom of his parents’ home in east Edmonton, where he has produced the show since January 2002.

He slips in a post-rock CD by The Notwist band. There’s no other noise in the room, so he can hear the music with just his hearing aids or, even better, with special headphones.

Ungstad, who uses the on-air moniker Auditory Adam, actually created the show a few years ago on Saskatoon’s CFCR. He was living there for a work-term, and during a night out with friends at a bar, he became frustrated because it was too loud to hear people talking and too dark to read their lips.

“I was coming across as very anti-social and shy,” says Ungstad.

So, he created HOHRadio, not only to play music for the hard of hearing — songs with deep bass or drums and few vocals — but also to educate people about hearing loss.

About one in nine people in Canada have some form of hearing loss, says Ungstad.

Born with a degenerative condition called Usher’s syndrome, he started wearing his first set of hearing aids at age two. At 14, he began losing his peripheral vision, another effect of the syndrome.

Ungstad moved HOHRadio to Edmonton when he returned to classes at the U of A.

He added biographies of people with hearing loss, and etiquette advice for people with normal hearing on how to talk with the hard of hearing.

The show also provides listeners with news updates, such as when Silver City cinemas started offering caption and audio prompts last spring.

But for HOHRadio fan Matt Schneider, it was the show’s music — the alternative space rock and drone songs — that caught his ear.

“When I first heard the name, Hard of Hearing Radio, I actually thought it was a play on jokes, suggesting that people who listen to experimental music must be deaf,” says Schneider. The music store clerk developed tinnitus, a ringing of the ears, after attending so many loud concerts as a teen.

“The show is a wonderful thing to have around. The information Adam provides is very useful to both the hard of hearing and those who have perfectly fine hearing.”

– The last pre-produced version of HOHRadio can be heard today from noon to 1 p.m on CJSR FM88. It moves Tuesday, April 1, to a new, live time slot, midnight to 1 a.m., and airs every second Tuesday.

– For more information about HOHRadio, log ontowww.flyingfingers.ca/hohradio.