Mary Richards to Launch 'The Book Shelf' on KHOI

November 15, 2012 - 4:57pm -- Anonymous (not verified)

Lovers of the written and spoken word will be able to enjoy both this Monday, when KHOI airs the first episode of “The Book Shelf.” Scheduled to air at 9 p.m. every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, the show will enlist central Iowans to read books by central Iowans. The first book it will feature is “Discovering the Body,” a mystery novel by the Ames native Mary Howard.

Mary Richards, a KHOI donor and volunteer, will read the book’s opening chapters during the show’s first three episodes.

Richards, a former Story County attorney, has nursed the wish to read books on the air—and hear them read—since WOI stopped broadcasting its long-running show “The Book Club.”

Ursula Ruedenberg, interim station manager, said Richards first proposed a book-narration show upon meeting her in May 2011.

For the past four years, Richards has contented herself with reading for the Iowa Department for the Blind. During that time, she has read poetry, fiction and nonfiction. The prospect of expanding her audience to include the sighted excites her.

“I really enjoy narrating books,” Richards said.

Not only will Richards narrate episodes, she will also prepare other central Iowans who wish to do the same. They may offer both their services as narrators and recommendations of books to read on the air.

“We’ll need help deciding what books to read,” she said. “And we’re always open to having people who enjoy—and are good at—narrating books.”

She said she planned to subject aspiring narrators to what she calls “a voice test.”

“We’ll do some recording of different kinds of reading, just to see how people read on their feet, so to speak.”

Richards feels as though she’s producing this show in the shadow of Doug Brown, the late WOI announcer who hosted “The Book Club” from shortly after its inception until his retirement in 1999. 

“Nobody can touch Doug Brown,” Richards said. Nonetheless, she spoke of airing KHOI’s show “in his honor.”

Doug Brown’s widow, Pat Brown, sees “The Book Shelf” as both a tribute to her husband and a contribution to the arts culture of central Iowa.

“I think there’s a real need for it,” Brown said. “People like to be read to.”

Brown lauded Richards’s decision to read the work of local authors on the program.

“I think it’s very appropriate to feature those writers—to encourage that talent,” she said. “That’s what makes Ames so interesting.”

Richards said that Story County’s unique concentration of talent boded well for “The Book Shelf.”

“There are so many good writers in this community. I think we’ll have enough material to last us for a while.”

Aspiring narrators or people with books to recommend can call the station at 515-292-2878 or email


Update (12.14.12 at 3:11 p.m.): Ursula Ruedenberg, interim station manager, confirmed this afternoon that the title of the program has been changed to "Community Book Shelf." It will continue to air at the same time: 9:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.