Weekly Features


'Sound Medicine' has shared advances in medicine and health care for more than a decade

Oct. 3, 2013

For more than a decade, many of the School of Medicine’s top faculty experts have traveled to WFYI each week to discuss health care, medical research and wellness issues on “Sound Medicine.”

The hourlong weekly radio program was created in 2001 by Pamela Perry and collaborators at WFYI, to give health-minded people a glimpse behind the curtains at advances in medicine and health care that improve the quality of life.

Moderator Barbara Lewis has been with

Moderator Barbara Lewis has been with "Sound Medicine" since its inception in 2001.

“We originally started the program as a way to extend the School of Medicine’s reach into the community,” said Perry, who shepherded the radio program from infancy to its current stature when she was head of the IUSM Office of Public and Media Relations, now a part of IU Communications. “We also wanted to provide information through a medium that has an audience that is interested in news beyond the one-minute story found in most media,” said Perry, who retired as director of the IU School of Medicine office in 2012.

The voice of "Sound Medicine" has usually been media veteran Barbara Lewis, but the program also has benefitted from strong support by the medical faculty, especially former School of Medicine Dean Robert Holden and his successor, outgoing Dean D. Craig Brater, Perry said.

During the program’s first 12 years, a core group of faculty served as an advisory panel and doubled as co-hosts with Lewis, doing homework, reading scripts and preparing for interviews with "Sound Medicine" guests, many of them IUSM faculty. In the past year, those same core faculty members have become content experts, and along with other faculty experts, help shape the most newsworthy stories.

The program has come a long way. It started on one station -- public radio station WFYI in Indianapolis -- and is now in 20 markets in Indiana and 14 more outside the state. The goal is to add another 20 mid-market stations across the U.S. by April 2015 with the help of a new executive producer.

The growth wasn’t a sure thing, since each station has a program director “whose job is to serve the interests of her or his community” by airing shows an audience will follow, Perry said. A limited marketing budget has meant that "Sound Medicine" needed word-of-mouth support, plus program directors on the lookout for new and different shows.

Lewis listens to points made by Dr. David Crabb, chairman of the department of medicine in the School of Medicine. Crabb is a regular contributor to

Lewis listens to points made by Dr. David Crabb, chairman of the Department of Medicine in the School of Medicine. Crabb is a regular contributor to "Sound Medicine."

Perry is grateful that WFYI Vice President Alan Cloe and Radio Program Director Jed Duval gave the show a platform and brought the idea to fruition. Lewis’ input and agreement to come on-board were vital to getting the show off the ground, as was the advice from another Indianapolis media veteran, Gerry Dick, who had just debuted “Inside Indiana Business.”

“There have been so many others who made the program work, and it’s changed a lot over the years," Perry said. "What you hear today is the product of our dedicated senior producer, Nora Hiatt, and her team of producers.”

Life in a competitive radio market requires financial support, and early backing from Wishard Hospital, Clarian and IU Medical Group was a vital part of the show’s survival. At present, IUPUI is a primary sponsor and Wishard is a topics sponsor, and the planned expansion is possible thanks to a two-year sponsorship commitment from the School of Medicine and Indiana University headed up by Rebecca Carl.

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