History of CML

Choice Magazine Listening was founded in 1962 by LuEsther T. Mertz, one of the original principals of Publishers Clearing House. Mrs. Mertz believed that visually impaired people and those with disabilities that prevented them from reading standard print should have access to the same magazine writing as sighted people. She established the nonprofit Lucerna Fund to support the efforts of Choice Magazine Listening. Because of LuEsther’s foresight, this recorded magazine anthology has always been completely free of charge. Mrs. Mertz died in 1991 at age 85.

Throughout its 62 years of service, Choice Magazine Listening has shared the finest magazine writing with its special audience. From an original source list comprised of five of LuEsther’s favorite magazines, to the more than 100 distinguished magazines and literary journals that the editors read today, CML has consistently showcased the best current writing by the finest contemporary authors. Through selectively chosen poems, short stories, interviews, essays and in-depth nonfiction articles, read, unabridged, by talented narrators, the aim of CML has always been to expand the human mind: to inform, entertain and enlighten. Each 12-hour quarterly issue is an opus for the ear.

Technology and Format Changes

The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, Library of Congress (NLS), was created in 1931 to provide library service to the blind. Based on the NLS model, the first issues of Choice Magazine Listening were recorded in 1962 on 16-2/3 rpm records, a special format developed to ensure protection of copyrighted material in accordance with the Pratt-Smoot Act of 1931. In 1996 the Chafee Amendment, which provided an exemption from the requirement to obtain copyright permission under certain conditions, was passed by Congress. As the NLS has updated its specially formatted technology, so too has Choice Magazine Listening, which switched to 8 rpm flexible discs in 1978, 4-track cassette tapes in 1990 and digital talking-book cartridges in 2011. In addition, listeners who use a computer can now download CML.


Choice Magazine Listening is currently celebrating its 61st anniversary. A publisher, three editors, and an office manager currently staff the offices in Port Washington, NY. CML led the way in the early transition to digital talking-book cartridges for magazines, offering subscribers the highest quality in sound reproduction. CML continues the mission and dedication of LuEsther T. Mertz by keeping our audio magazine anthology completely free of cost. The number-one criterion for CML remains, quite simply, to present choice writing to our special audience.


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