Radio turns on fireworks commentary

FOR blind people, fireworks are overheard ''oohs'' and ''ahhs'', crackles in the distance and the smell of clearing gunpowder.

But this year, visually impaired people could listen to an audio commentary that allowed them to sense an experience that has become inseparable from the dawn of a new year.

''The description of the fireworks is not a detailed commentary: this colour shell is firing from this barge now,'' said Aneurin Coffey, the producer of the city's New Year's Eve celebrations.

''It's very much like a cricket commentary, where they talk about everything but.

''It's talking about what the experience is, what the feeling we were trying to achieve is, more than the exact image.''

Mr Coffey and the fireworks' director, Fortunato Foti, recorded the commentary as a joint venture between the City of Sydney and radio station 2RPH.

It was then to be broadcast twice to cover the New Year's Eve fireworks at 9pm and midnight.

It was the second time a commentary was recorded but the first time it had been broadcast on analogue radio after a successful digital radio production last year.

''We produced a very basic one last year,'' Mr Coffey said. ''We talk about what's happening on the harbour, we give some behind the scenes information; it's a much broader segment.

''This year the theme is 'embrace' - we wanted to embrace all Sydneysiders.''

2RPH listener Lisa Hays said: ''If you're with your family and friends they're sitting there going 'Wow' and all you're hearing is explosions: it's the extent of [your] experience. But if someone's describing what's going on and what things actually look like you can feel part of it.''

This story Radio turns on fireworks commentary first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.