What is NIRIS?

The Northern Illinois Radio Information Service (NIRIS) is a division of Northern Public Radio, the public broadcasting service of Northern Illinois University. NIRIS is a unique broadcast service which provides current print information to blind and print-impaired citizens of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.

Because of the local in-depth coverage and timely nature of the material presented, NIRIS offers a distinct supplement to the Library of Congress Talking Book Program.

How Does it Work?

Programming is transmitted within a 60-mile radius of Lindenwood, Illinois, on a sub-carrier (SCA) frequency. A special receiver, which looks like a small table radio, must be used to hear the NIRIS programming. These receivers are loaned free of charge to eligible listeners at home, in hospitals, and in nursing homes.

Who Qualifies For a Receiver?

Any person who is unable to read, hold a book, or turn a page because of a visual, physical, or learning disability may borrow a receiver. Listeners do not have to be legally blind to receive programming. Criteria for eligibility are similar to those used by the Library of Congress Talking Book Service.

What Do NIRIS Listeners Hear?

Listeners can keep up to date with readings of newspapers, food and shopping ads, books, popular magazines, and special interest programs. A sample of the more than 25 newspapers read each week includes the Rockford Register Star, DeKalb Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Christian Science Monitor. Many other weekly newspapers from the area are heard as well.

How Can I Help?

You can help NIRIS by:

  1. Communicating the availability of the service to friends and the community. It is estimated there are more than 38,000 persons in the NIRIS listening area who are print-impaired. We need your assistance to help reach them.
  2. Volunteering your time and talent. More than 30 volunteers contribute their talent and energy to various essential tasks from reading newspapers to performing behind-the-scenes support work. No experience is needed, just a desire to help.
  3. Having a NIRIS representative speak to your group. We would be happy to provide someone to tell your group more about NIRIS.
  4. Make a financial contribution. NIRIS is funded almost entirely by contributions and grants. Community and individual support is vital to maintaining this service.

If you know someone who needs the NIRIS service, if you would like to make a contribution, please contact Phil Masterton at 815.753.9000

If you would like to volunteer your time, please complete and submit the application below, or contact Phil Masterton at 815.753.9000 or