WNYC Receives $1 Million Lead Grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to Bolster Growing Health Unit

    • July 17, 2014

New York, N.Y.—WNYC today announced a $1 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to bolster a new health unit within its award-winning newsroom.

Building on WNYC’s innovative approach to journalism, the health unit will cover three core areas—healthy living and wellness, health care economics and policy, and medical science and discovery—through a blend of high-impact investigative reporting, powerful first-person narrative, data news tools, and deep audience engagement.  

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation gift, along with support from other foundations and major donors, will enable WNYC to build out a team of reporters, producers, editors and audience development and engagement specialists with skills to create content across radio, digital and social media platforms.

The work of the health unit will be accessible to both local and national audiences. In early 2015, WNYC will launch a new podcast dedicated to the health concerns of individuals, families and communities.  Shorter stories and segments will air on local shows including The Brian Lehrer Show and WNYC’s local editions of Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as on national programs such as The Takeaway and Marketplace.  With an eye toward promoting healthy habits, WNYC will also create resources to educate and inspire individuals to make more informed health choices for themselves, their families and their communities. Ultimately, WNYC’s health coverage seeks to reach at least 10 million people in New York and across the nation.

“The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s leadership and legacy in improving the health and health care of all Americans is inspiring, and we are excited to have their support as we undertake our own ambitious health initiative,” said Laura Walker, president and CEO, New York Public Radio. “Health and health care affect every American at the most intimate level. With a combination of hard-hitting journalism, personal storytelling, and participatory projects and digital tools that engage the audience, we will inform and empower individual listeners and communities about issues of health. We are grateful to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for believing in our vision.”

“We are pleased to support WNYC’s new health reporting initiative,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, president, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Building a Culture of Health requires increasing awareness and education at the public level and fostering engagement, attitude, and behavior change at the personal level. WNYC is both a source of credible and accessible information about issues of health and wellness, and has the breadth and reach to bring a wide swath of voices into the conversation.”

In the last year, WNYC has produced several health-oriented projects that exemplify the unit’s innovative approach. "The Antidote: DNA Secrets" was an hour-long radio special focusing on the innovations and implications of genetic testing. The special included features and news segments on the topic, including a first-person audio diary by a young woman testing for Huntington’s disease that aired on This American Life, and earned a Deadline Club of New York Award. Further information available here.

WNYC’s "Clock Your Sleep Project" created digital tools and an online community, enlisting over 5,000 people to track their sleep habits and share the data for analysis and comparison. During the tracking period, a number of WNYC’s national and local radio shows and podcasts presented interviews and stories about a wide range of topics related to sleep, including parenting, technology, the impact of shift work, among many others. Further information available here.

"Rx for the Bx: Prescription for the Bronx" was an enterprise reporting series on the state of health in the Bronx. The reports looked at the complex and myriad reasons why the Bronx ranks as the least healthy county in the state, the impact of the ACA and health reform in the community, and the efforts being made to contribute to the improved health of its residents. Further information available here.

About New York Public Radio

New York Public Radio is New York’s premier public radio franchise, comprising WNYC, WQXR, The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, and New Jersey Public Radio, as well as www.wnyc.org, www.wqxr.org, www.thegreenespace.org and www.njpublicradio.org, and reaching an audience of over 14 million each month. WNYC is NYPR’s flagship station, home to a newsroom of 60 journalists, and producer of award-winning national programs including Radiolab, Freakonomics Radio, The Takeaway, Studio 360 and On the Media. WQXR is New York City's sole 24-hour classical music station, presenting new and landmark classical recordings as well as live concerts from the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, and Carnegie Hall, among other New York City venues, immersing listeners in the city's rich musical life. In addition to its audio content, WNYC and WQXR produce content for live, radio and web audiences from The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, the station's street-level multipurpose, multiplatform broadcast studio and performance space. New Jersey Public Radio extends WNYC’s reach and service more deeply into New Jersey. For more information about New York Public Radio, visit www.nypublicradio.org.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve the health and health care of all Americans. We are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all Americans to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.

Media Contacts

Melissa Blair

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (609) 627-5937

Additional Media Contact: Catherine Arnst

Director, Media Relations, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 609-627-5937

Jennifer Houlihan Roussel

Senior Director, Publicity, WNYC (646) 829-4497