Population Healthy Special Editions: Coronavirus Pandemic (University of Michigan School of Public Health) originally covered a variety of public health topics, but is now focused on the pandemic in an ambitious “special edition.” Currently three new 5–10-minute episodes are produced every week to unpack public health issues from multiple perspectives, including the scientific (what goes into creating a COVIDd-19 vaccine? How are infections traced?) and the social (why is the disease hurting the most vulnerable? How did Detroit become a hotspot, and what are its citizens doing to respond?). The podcast does not delve into political or economic aspects of the pandemic, but rather stays focused on population health issues.
Drawing on the University of Michigan’s “community of experts” within the School of Public Health, the podcast aims to provide information to help people respond to the challenges of the pandemic with solid information. From the first episode, the tone established is one of reassurance. Listeners will not only learn about the current pandemic, but will come away with a basic understanding of public health issues: applying epidemiology to local healthcare practices or the basic science of health at the community level. There is a special focus on Michigan, as may be expected from a land grant university, but the information provided is widely applicable.
Overall the production is nicely done, integrating introductory background knowledge into interviews. There’s a good variety of expertise on display to illustrate the contours of public health as a discipline. While the podcast may lack the drama and urgency of shows more engaged with the unfolding political response to the crisis, it offers good information and encouragement to listeners to respond in ways that will keep us informed and healthy.
Fact-based: 5 of 5. Though the “community of experts” is limited to the university’s faculty, each brings their knowledge to bear on the subject without being overwhelming.
Host: 4 of 5. There is no intrusive “star” hosting the show, but the host does a good job of weaving together background information with interviews.
Production: 4 of 5. In a few cases the sound quality is not excellent, but not in a way that detracts from the information provided. The editing is tight and keeps the flow going nicely.
Storytelling: 3 of 5. To be fair, the material isn’t really presented in the form of stories—but the explanation of ideas is handled well, rather like a good university lecture boiled down to interesting and informative key points.
Perspective: 4 of 5. The contribution this podcast makes is the focus on public health concepts applied to the crisis, which makes it informative but also reassuring.
Action-Oriented: 4 of 5. As a form of outreach to the community, the experts who contribute to this podcast do a good job of relating their knowledge to what individuals should know and can do to get through the crisis.
Overall Rating: 4 of 5.