Marc Siegel, MD, medical director of Doctor Radio, inside the station's state-of-the-art broadcasting studio in the main lobby of the Medical Center. (Photo by John Abbott)
The Doctor Is in—and on the Air
NYU Langone’s Pioneering Radio Station Celebrates Its First Anniversary
Imagine the ideal doctor’s office. A specialist is on call around the clock. The cost is a reasonable monthly fee, with no co-pay. And the doctor makes house calls. Welcome to “Doctor Radio, powered by NYU Langone Medical Center,” the pioneering radio station that celebrated its first anniversary in June.
Broadcast 24/7 on Sirius Satellite Radio (Channel 114) and XM (Channel 119), Doctor Radio features nearly 40 of NYU Langone’s most prominent physicians and other medical professionals as hosts and co-hosts, with 40 hours of original live programming per week on more than 20 shows. From a state-of-the-art broadcasting studio in the main lobby of the Medical Center, they dispense their wisdom on a vast variety of topics related to medicine, health, and healthcare. “We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could get NYU Langone’s elite doctors to convey relevant medical information by having the public call in and get direct answers to their questions,’” recalls Scott Greenstein, president and chief content officer of Sirius XM Radio.
Several hundred thousand listeners from all 50 states tune in to Doctor Radio each week, and some 75,000 of them have called in with a question. "We want listeners to think they’re in a living room, not a waiting room,” says Maurice Tunick, Sirius XM’s senior director of talk programming for Doctor Radio. “Early on, the challenge was to help transform these brilliant physicians into compelling storytellers.”
That job falls to Doctor Radio’s medical director, Marc Siegel, MD, clinical associate professor of medicine, who not only assesses content and collaborates with Sirius XM on production, but helps good doctors become good hosts. “Over the past year, I’ve earned the equivalent of a second doctorate—in radio,” he quips.
Dr. Siegel also helps break news. “A real highlight of this past year has been the way we’ve covered the H1N1 [swine flu] epidemic,” says Andrew Brotman, MD, vice dean for clinical affairs and strategy, who oversees the venture. “Our experts—Dr. Siegel and Dr. Martin Blaser, chairman of the Department of Medicine—provided in-depth overviews. Then, like any other news organization, the station offered multiple live updates on different programs.”
Doctor Radio has even gone on the road, broadcasting live from Las Vegas at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, as well as from other conferences in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. The station has become the go-to channel for celebrities who want to discuss their illnesses. “We’ve had Earl Monroe talk about prostate cancer, Miss America talk about hearing problems, Sally Field talk about mood disorders, and Ari Emanuel talk about ADHD,” notes Dr. Siegel. “We’ve become known as the place where doctors can talk to the public directly. No sound bites, no filtering, no distortion.”
Sometimes, the master storyteller is a patient. “The rehab stories we share are very powerful,” says Jonathan Whiteson, MD, assistant professor of rehabilitation medicine and medicine, and co-director of the Rusk Institute’s Cardiac Rehabilitation and Prevention Center. “When we have patients on to tell their story of disability—and their ability to triumph against all odds—no calls come in while the person is speaking. Listeners must be so taken by what they’re hearing that they feel it’s disrespectful to interrupt. Our message is ‘Never give up hope,’ and our medium is one that reaches and touches people.”