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YOU'RE JUST a touch-tone phone away from staying up to the minute with your favorite soap operas or getting a detailed personal astrological forecast.

It's possible now through the wonderful world of audiotext, brought to you through co-operative ventures of The Buffalo News with Tribune Media Services and the Los Angeles Times Syndicate.

All you need is a touch-tone phone if you want these services -- and more to be offered at a later date -- and are willing to pay the tab. Audiotext services are offered in many U.S. cities through the auspices of newspapers and have proved to be very popular with readers.

But we feel it is important to stress the cost factor so that there is no misunderstanding on the part of News readers. Callers to the 900 numbers assigned to The News are charged by the minute, and the bill can run up if care is not taken. Charges are assigned to your regular phone bill.

Soap opera reviews

The number to call for the soap opera updates is 1-(900)-988-8686. You will have a choice of 12 soap reviews 15 minutes after each has been shown on television. If you follow the soaps and have missed a day's episode, you can catch up with the story line through audiotext.

The cost for the phone call is 95 cents a minute. We've checked it out and found that listening to one update will take about two minutes, for a $1.90 cost. It takes about 1 1/2 minutes to listen to each additional update.

Callers to the service hear a short greeting and then are asked to use the keypad of a touch-tone phone to enter the first three letters of the program update they wish to hear. The soaps available are: "All My Children," "Another World," "As the World Turns," "The Bold and the Beautiful," "Days of Our Lives," "General Hospital," "Generations," "Guiding Light," "Loving," "One Life to Live," "Santa Barbara" and "The Young and the Restless."

Astrological forecasts

The number to call for a personal astrological forecast by Sidney Omarr is 1-(900)-370- 2280. Omarr writes the astrology column that appears regularly in the afternoon editions of The News. The cost to the caller is $1 a minute. Omarr's full message, if the caller chooses to listen to all of it, runs slightly over four minutes. You can hang up earlier if you wish to cut back on the cost.

Omarr offers daily personalized horoscopes recorded in his own voice. Each forecast is based on the month and day of birth that the caller provides through the keypad of the touch-tone phone. The astrological forecasts in Omarr's News columns are generic for all of those born in certain calendar periods. The audiotext forecasts are much more specific and tailored to the individual.

News writer honored

David Montgomery, News features writer, has won a national award for an Aug. 26 story arguing that the arts are underfunded in Erie County compared with sports, even though more people attend arts events than sports events.

Montgomery received $1,000 for placing first in the arts category of the annual competition sponsored by the University of Missouri Journalism School and the J.C. Penney Co.

The features department, reorganized and consolidated early this year under the supervision of Assistant Managing Editor Margaret Sullivan, won three national awards in 1990. In addition to Montgomery, Janice Okun was cited by the National Food Writers Association and Jeff Simon by the American Association of Sunday and Features Editors.

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