DTN Newspaper with Earphones LOGODacorum Talking Newspaper - Acronym is DTN
Queen's Award For Voluntary Service

Winners of the Queen's Award 2005


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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 House, Berkhamsted.
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 download 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.
The DTN can also be listened to over your telephone, and listening via Amazon Alexa devices is also now available - see download page for more details.

The logistics of how the audio news is produced is told in the "About the DTN" section of this web site.

In November 2018, due to the sale of the Social Centre for the Blind, the DTN moved premises, and now operates fully out of the Grovehill Community Centre.

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 here .