MARRS is a service for individuals who are blind or visually or print impaired.
How MARRS began
It was 1987 when former radio store manager and retiree Bob Brummond came up with an idea that would serve blind and visually impaired people in Western North Carolina. Legally blind himself, Bob’s idea was for volunteers to read and broadcast articles from area newspapers. Those with blindness and visual impairments would be able to stay abreast of local news and keep in touch with their community by listening to the broadcasts over specially tuned radios, provided for free.
Bob approached another blind man, Tom Leeder, at his office at Buncombe County Services for the Blind. Between the two of them, Bob and Tom formed a board of directors, incorporated a nonprofit organizations, and sought funding and volunteers. What is now the Mountain Area Radio Reading Service, or MARRS, was born.
30 years later, MARRS is as strong as ever!
In 2017, MARRS celebrates its 30th year of serving Western North Carolina. Today, Tom Leeder serves on the MARRS Board of Directors, joined by dozens of volunteers in our Asheville and Hendersonville studios who read news from a variety of outlets, including the Asheville Citizen-Times, Hendersonville Times-News, Black Mountain News, The Urban News, Mountain Xpress, Transylvania Times, Asheville Daily Planet, Asheville Tribune, and other local publications – more than 30 hours of local news weekly, with additional programming broadcast from other reading services. They also read commentary from publications such as The New York Times, Washington Post, Jewish World Review, and Miami Herald. [See our daily program guide here.]
Listeners can tune in online or via special, easy-to-operate radio units loaned to eligible individuals and installed by MARRS volunteers. Mountain Area Radio Reading Service broadcasts local and national programming 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Programming is also available at Mission Hospital on Channel 30 and the Charles George VA Medical Center on Channel 13. [Find out how to apply for a MARRS radio unit here.]
Our volunteers, donors, partners & supporters
MARRS is a volunteer-led and -staffed organization with operational expenses covered solely by grants and contributions from individuals, businesses, churches and foundations. We gratefully acknowledge the partnership of public radio stations WNCW-FM 88.7 and WCQS-FM 88.1, which allows us to broadcast via their sub-carriers. On behalf of those we serve, MARRS is grateful for the generous time and donations provided by our supporters.
Meet our Board of Directors
MARRS is a volunteer-led organization. Members of the current Board of Directors are:
* George deWalder – President
* Phyllis Youngberg – Treasurer
* Susan Poole – Secretary
* Greta Anderson – Webmaster
* Richard Caro – Immediate Past President
* Kathi Petersen − Communications Chair & Media Contact
* Tom Leeder − MARRS Co-Founder
* Jan Stanko
Meet our Office Assistant & On-Call/Substitute Managers
Managing the day-to-day activities of the station is Office Assistant Julie Crawshaw, provided by, and paid for in full, by the Land of Sky through the Senior Community Service Employment Program.
Our volunteer On-Call/Substitute Managers are Fred Klappenberger, Paige Lieberman, Bob Trapnell, and Phyllis Youngberg.
Want to learn more?
Thank you for your interest in MARRS!