Meet the RNIB Connect Radio presenters
On air seven days a week, our RNIB Connect Radio presenters bring you a fantastic selection of Talking Books, music, news and views. With a mix of blind, partially sighted and sighted staff on both sides of the microphone, there's always lots to talk about. Read their stories and find out more about the team.
Allan Russell presents the Daily Connect Show Monday to Friday on RNIB Connect Radio.
He’s been blind since 2001 and is a guide dog owner. In fact he says his dog, Quigley, is more popular in radio world than him!
Allan loves cycling, skiing, going to the cinema, theatre and concerts. He’ll be the first to tell you that since losing his sight, he’s been more active, tried more sports and done more travelling.
He also likes to give different martial arts a try.
Everyone knows him as a huge 80s music fan and a follower of all things James Bond. In fact, one of his most memorable interviews was with Sir Sean Connery who he bumped into during a visit to the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh.
If there’s a phrase out there that he goes by, it’s have a go and that’s why he encourages anyone with a sight condition to step out of their comfort zone and surprise themselves and others.
Aly was born in Dublin of Scottish parents and has lived all his life in London. As a student, he was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa which means he has chronic tunnel vision and very poor adaptation to changes in light. He explains, ‘At best, it's like looking through two drinking straws and when there are changes in light levels, I cannot see anything.’ He was registered as partially sighted in the 1990's and as blind in 2002.
He spent many years as a social worker, becoming freelance in 1991, specialising in Safeguarding, training and consultancy. In 2013, he decided to refocus and concentrate on music. As a very young teenager, he became fascinated by blues, gospel and soul music, he then also became interested in country and folk, then music from around the world. He has always found music a great counter to the stresses of his professional life.
Amelia joined the RNIB Connect Team in September 2023 and produces The Afternoon Edition, as well as creating a wealth of content for the station and presenting the Weekend Connect each Saturday at 10am. Most importantly, she battles David Hogg every weekday on Two Truths and a Lie. On her days off, she’s normally catching the latest indie movie at the cinema, heading to a live gig, or trying to cook something a bit too ambitious.
Callum has been completely blind from birth due to Norrie Disease and has had a strong interest in technology for as long as he can remember. He discovered his first screen reader with the help of a family member at the age of around 10 and he was amazed I could actually use a computer. He pretty much taught himself from that point and in 2017, he moved from his hometown of Bradford to Bolton to study Computer Networks and Security at university, graduating in 2020 with a 2.1. He now works as a Digital Accessibility Specialist with BT.
Callum lives in Bolton with his wife, and in his free time when not investigating the latest tech, he absolutely loves cooking, especially since getting an air fryer. Callum says, "That thing has been life changing!"
Claire Sisk has broken barriers and challenged misconceptions about living with blindness. She has made a significant impact on social media platforms, using her voice to raise awareness and educate others about the challenges she faces as a blind person and the solutions she uses to get on with her life.
In 2022, Claire was recognized for her exceptional work and awarded the RNIB Social Media Impact Award. Her dedication to spreading awareness and promoting inclusivity has made a profound impact on many people's lives, and she has inspired others to embrace their differences and work towards creating a more inclusive society.
Dave Williams is the presenter of Tech Talk and he has a wealth of experience in the assistive technology industry and broadcast media. Dave has created a whole range of audio over the years covering technology and social topics impacting blind people.
As a product manager with Dolphin Computer Access, Dave was a key player in the team who developed one of the first smartphone screen readers at a time when touch screens were widely considered inaccessible to blind people.
He’s also the chair of the Braillists Foundation - a community passionate about promoting independence and opportunity through braille literacy.
As well as being a blind dad and husband, Dave plays piano in a blues band, is a keen cricketer, cyclist, and runner – recently completing marathons in New York, Boston and Berlin.
David has been a Content Producer with RNIB since January 2022 but has been with RNIB Connect Radio since 2017.
Whilst studying journalism at university, David, a big fan of alternative music, began presenting A Little Alternative. Not only did this allow him to share his love of alternative music but also to interview some of his favourite artists.
After graduating, David became a full-time Content Producer and took over The Afternoon Edition in July 2022. He can now be found battling with Amelia Hilton in the game of all games, "Two Truths and a Lie"
Outside of the studio, David is a keen collector of vinyl records and can often be found trying to track down some limited-edition records in weird and wonderful colours. He also enjoys the occasional bit of gaming, reading, and watching professional wrestling.
Gary Moritz always had a dream to present a weekly radio show of nostalgic, easy listening music and it came true in 2009 when he began presenting Sunset Melodies for RNIB Connect Radio. He is passionate about a wide range of nostalgic music including the great artists of the 20th Century including, Elvis, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. Gary has Usher Syndrome that combines hearing loss with Retinitis Pigmentosa. As a teenager, he took up portrait painting, which he still does today to great success, whether it’s for a commission or for pleasure. Although, he now says that with deteriorating sight loss, he requires more patience and help with seeing colours. Gary was also a mobile deejay for fifteen years, not that it was without incident, working in dark environments with night-blindness! He also enjoys old movies, football, cricket and cooking.
Paulina is the co-host of The Happy Hour with Claire Sisk, in which they focus on all things happiness and wellbeing. She joined our RNIB Connect Radio team as a Support Worker with one of on-air presenters before becoming a Content Producer in 2020.
With a background in Media & Communication, Paulina has a passion for creating engaging audio including radio drama, podcasting and short features, such as short movie or book recommendations, nature features, and recipes with blind and partially sighted chefs.
Paulina also loves movies, travel and is currently learning how to renovate an old house.
As well as being a presenter and Allan Russell’s guide dog, he’s the most popular member of the team. He even has his own Instagram page!
He keeps an eye on everyone at Radio HQ and loves squeezing into the frame when people are taking photos for our social media posts.
Indeed, he’s had his picture taken with lots of famous people including F1 champ David Coulthard, 80s songstress Kim Wilde, politicians and even robots!
He’s been a guide dog for many years now and loves getting out and about. He is especially fond of the beach and hanging out with his four pawed friends in the park.
He woofs, "Remember, if you see me out and about in work mode, don’t distract me or other guide dogs, as we’re working hard looking after our humans and we need to concentrate on the world around us."
Robert was a snowboard instructor and worked in the entertainment industry before going back into education and gaining a BA (Hons) in Media Theory and Production with a specialism in radio.
After graduation he moved to London to start working with audiobook charity Listening Books, as they, and all audiobook production companies, were ditching analogue tape recording for digital.
After a couple of years Robert moved to the RNIB Talking Book studios in Camden Town in London where, as an audiobook engineer, he worked with many stars of the small and big screen and some very well-known authors.
Moving back to Scotland a few years later, he continued to work with RNIB as an audiobook engineer, a transcription officer, and eventually moving full time to RNIB Connect Radio as a content producer. He now produces and presents the Talking Books show and on Read On – The Audiobook Show. He’s passionate about accessible reading and can often be found with a roving microphone talking to authors at book festivals such as Wigtown, Boswell and beyond.
Roger has a passion for music especially from the 70s and 80s. He has been volunteering at RNIB Connect radio for over 12 years and loves sharing his knowledge of both decades. He says, "I guess I can best describe each show as a little bit eclectic with all the big hits combined with fun featurettes and even a few rarities along the way too." Apart from a real zest for music, when he’s not producing and presenting his shows, his main hobby is playing blind golf. He caught the golfing bug about 15 years ago and finds it’s the perfect outlet for coping with the aches and pains of sight loss. Roger is a member of England and Wales Blind Golf (EWBG) and he says, ‘Golf has helped me to truly focus my mind away from all those stresses we all associate with being blind.’
Sandra was born in Zambia and has been blind almost from birth. She trained in voice, piano and braille music at the Royal College of Music and is a Soprano Singer, Actor, Radio Presenter and Voiceover Artist
Sandra says, "My voice is so important to me as I use it in every aspect of my career".
She has performed in a wide variety of productions for theatre, TV, and radio such as a leading role in "Orpheus the Mythical", a musical written and produced by Sir Richard Stilgoe, as a principal soloist in the opera Magna Carta - The Freedom Game at The Royal Albert Hall and making her international debut performing at The Enzo Ferrari Museum, Modena, Italy, 2013.
Sandra has volunteered at RNIB Connect Radio for over 13 years and brings a wealth of musical knowledge to her show, Music Box.
Tasneem Arshad is a Psychology graduate, a clinician for the NHS for almost 15 years and is registered blind with some useful vision.
She says she arrived late to the party of assistive technology due to a gradual deterioration of sight loss since birth. She is now training to use JAWS Screen user software and is wonderfully astounded at the revolution that technology offers to blind and partially sighted people, enabling them to access the world in ways which were unimaginable previously.
Tasneem’s passionate about technology and says "Each person’s vision loss journey is unique to them and it’s ok to travel at your own pace. It’s important to remember that assistive technology is here to make our lives easier and ready for you to access when you are ready to explore."
Toby joined RNIB Connect Radio in the middle of October 2020. After graduating with a degree in photography in the mid-1990s, Toby has had quite a varied career from a short period of time as a freelance Photographer, a number of years working on network radio programmes for the BBC to spending over a decade as Deputy Director of VocalEyes a national charity that provides access to the arts through audio description for blind and partially sighted people.
Toby has always had problems with his eyesight which resulted from being given too much or too little oxygen as a premature baby. His eyesight has deteriorated over the years, and he is now with his third Guide Dog. Toby’s eyesight has not stopped him enjoying all aspects of the arts and taking up the sport of sailing, where he has successfully represented Great Britain at national, international and world blind sailing championships winning a number of silver and gold medals.