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Radio for health: Why Access to the Airwaves is Vital to Public Health

Deborah S. Edelman, DrPH, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Center for Adolescent Health Promotion & Disease Prevention, 615 N. Wolfe Street, Room 4533, Baltimore, MD 21205, 410.614.3955, dedelman@jhsph.edu

Although television may play a more visible role in American households since its advent in the 1950s, radio reaches more than 94 percent of the population every week, according to Arbitron. Yet there has not been much study of radio’s impact on public health, particularly in North America. This presentation will describe radio broadcasting’s under-appreciated but vital role in public health and what the public and the field of Public Health could do to increase its effectiveness. It will discuss radio as a means of interactive communication, as a form of social capital, and as a valuable community resource, which fosters engagement and is health promoting in and of itself, not just as a means of disseminating information. The presenter will analyze why Rush Limbaugh's talk show audience is less healthy than the audiences of other talk shows. With analyses that are both practical and academically significant, the talk will suggest how this public health resource is at risk of disappearing, or at least of diminishing, as private interests buy up the airwaves. It also will review the history of radio and its status as a broadcast vehicle, pointing to the importance of radio research and program development within the field of public health.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Communication, Media

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Innovations in Teaching, Researching, and Applying Health Communication

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA