Plug pulled on WFYI radio's 'Sound Medicine' show

March 30, 2015

“Sound Medicine,” the popular public radio show about health issues that has aired on WFYI-FM 90.1 for 15 years, is about to check out.

On April 26, WFYI will broadcast its last new episode of “Sound Medicine.” The hour-long show, which WFYI officials call “a discussion with the brightest minds in medicine,” will air in re-runs through the end of May.

The show, which is hosted by former WRTV-TV Channel 6 anchor Barbara Lewis-West, was canceled after the Indiana University School of Medicine, the show’s co-owner and primary funder, pulled the plug on its funding. WFYI and Indiana University also co-owned the show.

The show, which was produced by a group of free-lancers and airs on 40 stations, cost $350,000 a year to produce, WFYI officials said.

“In this time of limited budgets, the IU School of Medicine is reviewing its outreach efforts to determine how to direct resources in order to best reach those who are in a position to support the school’s mission,” said Holly Vonderheit, IU School of Medicine’s director of strategic communications.

She added: “WFYI and the IU School of Medicine continue to work together to consider partnership options to provide insightful health and medicine information to the public radio audience.”

WFYI officials stressed that the end of “Sound Medicine,” which airs each Sunday at 2 p.m. and Tuesday at 9 p.m., does not mean the station won’t continue to cover health and wellness issues.

“We’re not getting out of the health news business, that’s for sure,” said Richard Miles, WFYI vice president of interactive media and content strategy.

In fact, Miles said, while the regularly broadcast show will go away, the “Sound Medicine” moniker will remain on the “stories and projects we do together with the IU School of Medicine.”

Those stories, Miles said, will be embedded in other WFYI broadcasts.
“IU is going through an internal marketing review, and WFYI and IU will be meeting in April to plot a future course,” Miles said.

He added that WFYI hopes to keep “Sound Medicine” host Lewis-West on the air at WFYI.

WFYI is working on an as-yet-to-be-named project related to health and wellness. The new initiative, Miles said, is being underwritten by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Herbert Simon Family Foundation. It will not result in a show, but rather regular reports and stories focused on health and wellness, he added.

“They will be branded reports and they’ll be syndicated nationally,” Miles said of the project, adding that the reports will be produced in cooperation with public stations in Rochester, New York, and Columbia, Missouri.

“We know our listeners have an interest in this type of programming,” he said, “and we’re making a continued commitment to it.”


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