Drive through Dayton, Ohio, on a Sunday and deep on the FM dial you’ll often hear a show that can include an interview with the deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization, a report on the American Medical Association’s “Lobby Day” event and a discussion with the director of Stanford University’s anesthesiology residency program.
The broadcast is called Radio Rounds, designed for medical students by a trio of now second-year classmates at the Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University.
Radio Rounds first hit the airwaves in April 2009. Avash Kalra, one of the hosts, said his initial concept was to create an audio newsletter for his classmates. But then he, co-host Lakshman Swamy and executive producer Shamie Das realized they could do a lot more.
“As we started to put together our first episode, [we realized that] there was kind of a big opening,” Swamy said. “No one was talking about these things in a way that everyone could understand. We like to aim it toward medical students; that way, we don’t go too technical or too basic. It’s a middle ground.”
The fourth season of the program, which is currently on hiatus, will start in August. It will cover a variety of topics, including healthcare reform, and showcase inspiring stories of physicians and patients, Kalra said. He also said that guests will include NASA physician Michael Barratt and author Michael Ruhlman.
“When we reach out to guests, they’re usually so excited because rarely do they get to talk to a primarily medical student audience,” Kalra said.
One of the founders’ goals for the new season is to increase interactivity, by soliciting opinion pieces from doctors, residents, medical students and pre-med students for the show and its Web site. They’re also hoping to hear from the general public.
“We want to make it a forum for what’s going on in health care,” Swamy said.
They’ve come a long way since their first season, when they spent many hours each week learning basic editing skills, acquainting themselves with audio recording programs and taking DJ classes focused on live broadcasting.
Today, Kalra, Swamy and Das each devote about 10 hours a week to the program, which can be accessed online or through iTunes, in addition to WWSU 106.9 FM in Dayton. Though it’s difficult to measure the number of Radio Rounds listeners from week to week, Kalra said they have surpassed 10,000 podcast downloads.
Their audience stays connected to what’s going on with the program through various forms of social media. The Radio Rounds crew maintains a Twitter account and a Facebook page (with 491 members, as of Tuesday). And even though the program is currently based at Wright State, Kalra, Swamy and Das hope that it will evolve into something that includes anyone from anywhere. To that end, Das and two other Wright State students represented the show during the American Medical Student Association’s recent conference.
“We want to make it a national voice,” Kalra said.
Or maybe even international. After all, someone from Egypt has expressed interest. Said Swamy: “We are always looking for contributors.”
[Photo courtesy of Radio Rounds]