Maybe it should ever after be referred to as the 30-day miracle.
Not because it took 30 days to accomplish, but because it took a single polite, but firm, demand to vacate the rent-free Central Kentucky Radio Eye's studios in 30 days for the miracle to start to happen.
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The miracle — that continues to allow 3,000 blind and print-disabled people to have the newspaper read to them every day — took three years, hundreds of hours, a slew of volunteers, tens of thousands of dollars and the grace and benevolence of a community suddenly awakened to the need.
But it started with the phone call.
The University of Kentucky called CKRE executive director Margaret Chase on July 15, 2005, told her it needed the space the service occupied at the King Library and handed her the 30-day deadline.
Chase, whose offices had occupied the small niche in the King Library for 15 years, appreciated the goodwill of the university for providing, free of charge, the space and the radio signal. But the one-month's notice was a surprise. So was the quick public response to the news of the university's move.
By early August, Radio Eye and UK came to an understanding that, as long as Radio Eye was looking for an alternative studio, UK was willing to let the service stay.
UK would work around it.
Chase, the unpaid executive director of Kentucky's only radio reading service for the blind and visually challenged, set to work looking for an alternative space.
Or it came looking for her, for Chase found that, at almost every turn, the community's generosity was matched only by its eagerness as she was offered help, time, in-kind gifts, money, ideas and support.
Again, all so 3,000 people could hear the news.
A few weeks after the August agreement, Al Isaacs called Chase as he was about to get on a plane. He wondered whether they could get together to talk about solutions he might have.
More calls poured in. Directors at organizations such as the Lexington Clinic, Clear Channel Radio, the Urban League, Mortenson Broadcasting and the Lexington Public Library called. Even one of Chase's neighbors who had office space downtown found her and began discussions about what the radio reading service's needs were and how they might meet them.
Chase and the CKRE board of directors couldn't believe the outpouring but had to be realistic about what could be done. Within two months, for various reasons, all but one of the locations were dismissed.
The Lexington Public Library had its new Northside branch on the master plan but still on the architect's table. And because the mission of a radio reading service so closely parallels that of a library — in fact, many are run by libraries in other states — the fit, says Lexington Public Library executive director Kathleen Imhoff, "was perfect."
By February 2006, the CKRE and the library were talking square footage needs and where to put the electrical outlets.
By June, lawyers for both sides agreed that Lexington Public Library would house the service for free for 12 years (free rent and utilities paid) with renewal options available. Radio Eye had to pay for construction of the sound studio, equipment and moving expenses.
As of June 2006, Chase had no money for that.
"I will find a way to get what we need," she said to herself, figuring she would beg if she had to. But, instead of begging, in late 2006, Chase went to some longtime benefactors and explained about CKRE's freshest need. She got $20,000 each from the Lexington Lions, from Keeneland and the Francis Hollis Brain Foundation.
When that wasn't enough, Keeneland gave more. When she needed a venue in April 2007 to launch her fund-raising campaign, Tuska Studio stepped forward. When she needed direct mail brochures, Hammond Graphics designed one and the Herald-Leader printed it. When she needed a hero, KET sound engineer Doug Collins designed the sound studios, specified the equipment and assembled the equipment, mostly free of charge.
When ground was broken for the Northside Library on June 16, 2007, the library's plan for the reading service included 1,620 feet of dedicated workspace, a separate entrance and separate parking for its 80 current volunteers, immediate access to its library cable channel studios and a big picture window so the public could watch the live broadcasts.
"It's to die for," Chase said over and over to those she asked for help.
Repeatedly, they agreed. When CKRE needed concrete to hold its satellite dish on top of the new library roof, Meade Construction offered to pour and pay for 3,000 pounds of it.
When it needed the satellite dish to be moved from the ground to the roof, Gray Construction lent the crane and the personnel to lift it there, only to find engineer Collins and his friends up there waiting.
"People did what they could," says Chase. "They came through."
CKRE moved into its new studio on Sept. 3, all the while broadcasting from the construction site at UK. By the morning of Sept. 14, the first live Radio Eye broadcast originated from the Northside Library.
A few things to know:
■ UK helped CKRE stay in place at its own library until the last second. It continued to provide, at no cost, the radio signal that allows the service to continue.
■ The annual budget of CKRE is $55,000; only one person on staff is paid, the rest are volunteers.
■ The debt accrued during the relocation: $0.
Mike Barnard knows that red means danger and yellow means caution. The 58-year-old Montgomery County man has never seen red or yellow but he says, with some assurance, that he can imagine them.
Instead of talking about the colors and the wood tones at the new studio, it seems right that a description detail, for Barnard, is how it is filled with newspapers from around Kentucky and that a pile includes the most recent Mount Sterling Advocate, which will be read Monday nights at 7, because that's how Barnard plans his Mondays.
Kentucky magazines are in another stack and they have their own special schedule. The volunteers are as nice as you think, Mike, and are dressed casually and there's a list of words on the wall here of Kentucky place names — like Cairo and Madrid and Goshen and Garrard — so everybody will pronounce them right.
Everybody is thinking of you.
"We gotta know what's going on," says Barnard, who has been listening to Radio Eye for 17 years.
Do you rely on it?
"Yeah, buddy," he says.
Do you know what it takes to get the news to you?
"No, but I can imagine."