Eighteen years ago, Los Angeles radio station KJLH held its first Women’s Health Expo in a small church. In late April, thousands of women attended this year’s expo at the Long Beach Convention Center.
At the 2018 event, attendees had access to free health assessments, including HIV/AIDS tests, mammograms and kidney screenings, as well as dental and eye exams. The daylong expo also featured a live broadcast of a panel discussion with local physicians and public health leaders on a variety of health and wellness topics. The radio broadcasts ensured that even listeners who couldn’t make the event in person could still benefit from it.
For the team at KJLH, which singer Stevie Wonder owns, the annual expo is a way to support and serve listeners by providing services and information they might not otherwise be able to access.
This event is one of many such engagements across the country hosted by radio and television broadcasters whose reporting illuminates the greatest needs, and most important stories, in the places they call home. The team at KJLH sees the expo as an important way to connect the people in their community while serving a greater good.
“We do this for the community and we do it for women. And it gets bigger every single year,” said Nautica De La Cruz, an on-air personality at KJLH.
Many of KJLH’s listeners are African-American women, a group that has historically been and continues to be underserved by the medical community. Black women are disproportionately affected by a number of diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke and breast cancer.
KJLH realized a health expo — bringing together their listeners and members of the medical community — could provide a valuable public service and help to mitigate these issues. They organized the first Women’s Health Expo with a simple goal: Provide the women in attendance free medical screenings.
“We thought it was our duty, as a service to the African-American community, to make it possible —absolutely free — for you to come and find out about your health and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” on-air personality Tammi Mac said.
Today, in addition to health assessments and the live radio broadcast, the expo features free massages, breakout sessions on topics ranging from financial wellness to natural hair care, and cooking and exercise demonstrations.
By connecting women to health care providers, KJLH is providing a vital service — and helping to save lives.
“There’s been a number of women who’ve had life-threatening diseases diagnosed at the Women’s Health Expo,” said Karen Slade, the station’s vice president. “Through health screenings, we’re able to uncover issues and help put women on a healthier path.”
Dr. Angel Schaffer, an expo volunteer, echoed Slade: “Any time that you are disseminating information in terms of health — whether it’s hypertension or HIV status — it absolutely will save a life.”
The National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation recently awarded KJLH with its Service to Community Award. The Foundation’s annual gala in Washington, D.C. recognizes stations that have given back to the communities they serve.
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