Public Health Podcasting

microphoneFor those of you who are avid readers, you know that I’ve occasionally been doing video posts on the blog. (Here’s the first one from earlier this year.) They’re going … okay, I think. I’ve wanted to do something like this for a long time, and am finally getting it done this year. It’s been a fun experience, and certainly makes me think I’d like to do it more officially in the future. Looking forward, I should really admit that anything beyond the random videos that I don’t advertise could probably be considered a podcast.

So, what’s a podcast? Well, according to Teagan Keating, it’s:

A podcast is a bit like a radio show that you download from the internet.

And it turns out there’s a bit of a market for it:

People really do listen to podcasts. As of 2011, there were 91,000 podcasts. In 2012, Edison Research found that 29% of Americans polled had listened to a podcast at least once, and 26% had viewed a video podcast (sometimes called a vodcast) at least once.

And just within the usually very-behind-the-times public health world, there are at least ten regularly updated podcasts, from places like the American Public Health Association and the US Department of Health and Human Services, but also individual public health practitioners like Jigsaw PSPH and Helen Osborne.

So what does this mean for us as government communicators (and you, too, public health folks)? Well, after yesterday’s post about where people are getting their news, shouldn’t podcasting be considered yet another avenue through which we can spread the word? Yes, it’s not traditional, and yes, you won’t get ten million listeners. But you might get the one listener you need, or more importantly, the one listener who needs you.

The great list that Teagan put together is woefully bereft of local and state health departments. And, given the insanely low threshold needed to produce one of these things (seriously, I do it with my phone and a five-dollar video editing app), why aren’t more government agencies doing it?

(As an aside, I’m going to continue my video posts through the end of the year, and then I very seriously will consider spinning them, or an audio podcast, off next year. I’ll be attending the Philly Podcast Festival this week to learn about how I can do it better. Look for another update on the topic of podcasting in the near future.)


6 thoughts on “Public Health Podcasting

  1. We’ve been doing them for years. Search “Fairfax County podcasts” on the Google machine. Big audio plans coming from us soon…stay tuned!

    1. Well, Fairfax County doesn’t count. You guys are ahead of just about everyone in the world. Can’t wait to hear more!

  2. We have some community partners that just started a podcast. It’s the Philly Poz Project – a group of young HIV+ positive guys talking about their experiences. First episode is done, and the second was recorded last night. It’s a very exciting project :)

  3. Hello! For some reason I am only just finding out about Teagan’s post and the Philly Podcast Festival…wish I had known and been able to be there! I am the host of the last podcast listed on there, Public Health United ( and we are working to improve communication between public health professionals and the public. I’m actually a PhD student in Immunology at Hopkins (though I lived in Philly for 8 years and absolutely loved it there) and I’ve learned so much already from podcasting–my ‘self-goals’ are to figure out how to better communicate public health science to the public–it’s really hard to know how to do this. It’s almost like a different language. It’s so important to get people thinking and talking about how we communicate and how we can improve. Let me know if you are at all interested in doing a collaboration of some sort (we can trade interviews!).

Comments are closed.