Radio is looked at as an important tool in educating the general public about health issues. In particular, it is believed that properly developed community radio can encourage community-driven problem solving. At the government level, radio has been used to advise the public on issues such as new health standards and seasonal food warnings.
Examples of radio's role in education and public health awareness are numerous. Sound Partners—a program run by the Benton Foundation—provides grants to public radio stations interested in developing community-oriented educational content for the good of public health. Many talk-radio stations and public broadcasters feature special call-in medical programming and general health information. Public addresses via radio, such as President Clinton's radio talk on May 6, 2000, on food safety, and the radio dissemination of automotive product recalls by the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, also exhibit the effectiveness of radio as a means of informing the public.
While the above services are good for the general public, physicians need to be educated in a different manner. Internet radio involves broadcasting audio content on the Internet so it can be heard anywhere in the world through a computer or WebTV unit. Examples of Internet radio delivery systems include RealNetwork's RealPlayer and Microsoft's Windows Media Player.
Internet radio is important for the public health and medical community because it creates an opportunity for high-quality interactive distance learning and education without geographic limitations. For example, in a normal educational setting doctors would need to go to a special class or conference to educate themselves. Internet radio can provide doctors with an alternative to the traditional continuing education setting.