Winners of the Queen's Award 2005
History of the Dacorum Talking Newspaper (DTN)
The first ever Talking Newspaper was produced in 1970 in Aberdare, Wales for just 20 listeners. Soon other
Groups followed and in 1974 the
Talking Newspaper Association UK (TNAUK)
was formed to give advice and support to the growing number of Newspapers. This role has now devolved to the
Talking Newspaper Federation (TNF)
while TNAUK concentrates on national and commercial audio services. Today there are more than 600 talking newspapers in the UK.
In 1976 the late Tony Graham of Hemel Hempstead began researching the idea of starting a Newspaper in
Dacorum. Tony, who himself subsequently lost his sight, bought a tape from the Talking Newspaper
Association for £2 which described how established Newspapers were produced. The local Lions Club
donated £50 with a view to setting up a local talking newspaper.
In 1977 the Dacorum Talking Newspaper was formed and had 15 listeners; it now has approximately 150. The
first editions were taken by the local Motor Bike club to the St. Albans Talking Newspaper for copying.
The DTN then moved to the Blind Centre in Two Waters Road. The hall there had very poor acoustics so the
readers were forced to read the material in a cupboard, where the conditions were very cramped.
Later the Marriage Guidance Council, now called Relate, allowed the DTN to use their offices in Gable
In 1989 the
Hertfordshire Society for the Blind (HSB)
started building the present Social Centre for the Blind in Alston Road, Boxmoor, Hemel Hempstead.
The DTN were provided with a studio that was palatial compared to previous accommodation.
The first news tape went out from there in January 1990, and once again financial help was received from
the local Lions Club.
The equipment at that time was a Graf Master cassette tape duplicator with five slave units which was
in time changed to a Graf Multi Trax duplicator with 15 slave units and a spare master - all with
erase heads. Up to 15 tape copies could be made in less than 2 minutes.
In 2005 the DTN started to record the master weekly news digitally onto a computer. The master copy was
then duplicated on the Graf equipment. This greatly enhanced the quality of sound that the listeners
received. The conversion exercise had the added effect of increasing our tape capacity to 16 slave units. A year later the DTN also started to distribute the weekly news on audio CD for those who wanted
to receive their weekly news that way. The DTN initially bought a CD duplicator which copied up to 10 CDs at
a time in around 4 minutes. Shortly after that the DTN bought a second copier to reduce the time for the copying team on a Friday morning.
In July 2012 the DTN switched to the use of portable MP3 memory drives (commonly known as memory sticks, pen drives or flash drives) as the media to send to our listeners.
Additionally we provided the vast majority of our listeners with a Boom Box to listen to them on.
When this was done each listener had the Boom Box delivered and demonstrated to them individually.
There is a copy available for
as MP3 files from this web site. Those who wish to can also subscribe to the Dacorum Talking Newspaper as a Podcast for automatic delivery to their chosen device.
When producing the audio news the Editor works in the studio with the Technician who maintains sound contact with the readers in the
next room through his speakers and their microphones.
Visual contact is through a window between the two rooms.
The logistics of how the audio news is produced is told in the
"About the DTN"
section of this web site.
Hemel Hempstead Hospital Radio
broadcasts the DTN on Saturdays 14:00, Sundays 22:00, and Mondays 17:00, to its patients on bedside units and to the wider community on 1350 Medium wave.
The DTN occasionally receives donations to help it in its work which are gratefully received.
Today the DTN is run by a committee of 10 and has 5 reading teams, each with 4 readers (2 male and 2
female), a technician, and an editor. There are 7 technicians in all, and several relief readers in case
any of the permanent team members are unavailable.
If you wish to know more about the Dacorum Talking Newspaper, or to receive the weekly audio news of local
interest then please contact the Secretary, Audrey Mackie on 01442 217918 or send an email to us