WNYC Launches Only Human, New Weekly Podcast About Our Quest for Health

WNYC Launches Only Human,
New Weekly Podcast About Our Quest for Health

Only Human Offers Unique Blend of First-Person Stories and Journalism
About Well-being, Medical Discovery and the Revolution in Healthcare 

In Debut Episode, Available Today, Host Mary Harris
Chronicles Her Life-Changing Experience of Fighting Breast Cancer While Pregnant 

Show to Build Community Through Engagement Projects, Beginning in November with Weeklong Bootcamp to Become a Better Listener 

“Health Confessions” Twitter Campaign Encourages Audience to
Share Daily Experiences of Being #OnlyHuman 

(October 6, 2015 – New York, NY) – We often take good health for granted--until we can’t.  And when something happens, it can change us in unforeseen ways. 

Starting today, WNYC, home to top iTunes podcasts including Radiolab and Freakonomics Radio, brings a fresh approach to the most universal of concerns –better health – with its newest weekly podcast, Only Human.

Fusing personal stories, participatory projects, and top-notch medical journalism, Only Human chronicles our quests for better health — at the gym, in a lab, at the dinner table, or within the larger economic system, as we endeavor personally and collectively to keep pace with the rising costs of healthcare. The show forgoes the tight focus on rare diseases, exotic treatments, and trendy health fads that drives much health coverage, and instead focuses on significant medical research, healthcare economics, and the intimate aspects of being “only human.” 

The debut episode puts host and WNYC journalist Mary Harris front and center, as she leads listeners through her own account of discovering she was pregnant and had breast cancer in the same month. Only Human will continually ask experts and listeners alike the big question of how changes in our health can affect our lives in a profound way, and what we can learn about ourselves and the world of medicine through the journey. 

Only Human also launches with a light-hearted, utterly relatable Twitter hashtag, #OnlyHuman,   which invites listeners to share “health confessions,” from the guilty pleasures that compromise their health (rewarding yourself with cookies after a workout) to their own battles to overcome serious illness.

At the core of the show, Only Human will bring audiences together through engagement activities modeled on successes such as WNYC’s “Clock Your Sleep” Project, in which 5,000 people collectively shared their sleep patterns, and Note to Self’s “Bored & Brilliant” campaign, which activated over 20,000 people to take daily tech detox challenges in pursuit of more brain space for creative thinking. 

In November, the podcast will present a “Hearing and Understanding” series, with two engagement projects. In the first, the show will partner with the iPhone hearing test app Mimi to give the audience a chance to gauge their “hearing age,” with the goal of stimulating a dialogue about the sensitive subject of hearing loss.  The second, “How to Be a Better Listener,” will challenge the audience to take a weeklong set of exercises to strengthen “social listening,” with the goal of becoming better communicators with the people we are close to.

“With Google and sites like WebMD,  we have a tremendous amount of health information at our fingertips, yet people still harbor a great deal of trepidation  and confusion when it comes to health matters,” said  Laura Walker, President and CEO, New York Public Radio, which includes WNYC.  “Only Human seeks to fill a void, pairing crucial research and reporting on medical advances and medical economics with accessible personal stories about individual health journeys and impacts on daily lives. Only Human will do what WNYC does best: use audio storytelling to simultaneously inform and connect audiences, and build a community where listeners are empowered to share their experiences and learn from each other through engagement projects.”

“The podcast is the perfect medium to deliver on the mission of Only Human,” said Dean Cappello, Chief Content Officer, WNYC.  “It allows us to create an intimate space among the listener and health experts and scientists, as well as other people in the process of managing their own health lives.  And in that space –while commuting or at the gym or walking the dog – people may reflect on their own stories and we hope find the inspiration to make more informed choices.”

Below is a list of some of the forthcoming episodes:

  • “Keep the Baby, Get the Chemo” – The podcast’s premiere episode illustrates its mission statement: Every Body Has a Story.”  In this episode, host Mary Harris tells her own story of finding out that she was pregnant and suffering from breast cancer within a matter of weeks, and recounts the path she took to tackle the disease and have a healthy baby.  
  • “Going Off” –Jaime Lowe, a woman whose paralyzing bipolar disorder has been managed for years by Lithium, is confronted with the news that she can no longer take the medication.  
  • “Don’t Call Me ‘Inspiring’” – How does a young person deal with a terminal cancer diagnosis?  If you’re the writer Max Ritvo, you deal with it by writing comedy, getting married, and starting a new teaching position at an Ivy League school.  
  • “We’re All Only Human” – Do you reward yourself with a burger after spin class? Do you have an inordinate fear of needles or swallowing pills?  Are you a doctor who’s afraid to go to a doctor?  Only Human shares the health care confessions of lay people and healthcare professionals alike, including noted Dr. Ezekiel “Zeke” Emanuel, bioethicist and one of the architects of the Affordable Care Act. 
  • Hearing and Understanding SeriesOnly Human delves deep into this issue of importance to podcast and radio listeners with three diverse episodes.  In one, we meet Rose, a woman who has a unique kind of brain deafness that has made her the subject of 20 years of research.  In another, we meet Jay, a composer grappling with losing his hearing and the limited options for treatment.  In the third, the show will explore one man’s longtime quest to create a “Deaf Utopia”– a town whose every resident uses sign language.  

Upcoming episodes will explore topics including the complex and increasingly costly world of healthcare economics, doctor/patient relationships, sexuality, and aging, among others. Only Human is available here.

Support for Only Human and WNYC’s other health initiatives is provided by the Charina Endowment Fund, The Hearst Foundations, Jane and Gerald Katcher and the Katcher Family Foundation, The Iris and Junming Le Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Simons Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Susan and Peter Solomon Foundation, and The Winston Foundation.


From its state-of-the-art studios in New York City, WNYC is reshaping audio for a new generation of listeners with groundbreaking, innovative radio programs and podcasts including Radiolab, Freakonomics Radio, On the Media, Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin, Death, Sex & Money and Note to Self among others. With an urban vibrancy and a global perspective, WNYC is America's most listened-to public radio station and the home to an award-winning newsroom of 65 journalists.


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