January 29, 2010, ST. LOUIS – While Dr. Joe Primrose is a mainstay of the Barnes-Jewish Hospital emergency department since 1993, he is perhaps more familiar to listeners of KMOX radio as a contributor to their health coverage since 2008.
“It means a lot when people say they hear you on the radio, but I always ask those people if they’re learning good health information,” says Dr. Primrose. “That’s the reason I’m there.”
While he discusses topics as varied as basic heart health tips to complex information about how disasters like those in Haiti are handled, the Thursday morning 8:40 a.m. slot with “Total Information AM” hosts Doug McElvein and Debbie Monterrey is more than just an opportunity to give good health information.
“It’s like a dream come true,” he says.
An Edwardsville native, Dr. Primrose, 68, grew up listening to KMOX from sun-up to sun-down for much of his youth.
“From five in the morning, ‘til ten a night, the dial on my grandmother’s radio was rusted shut to KMOX,” he says. “In fact, to my grandmother being at KMOX was the pinnacle of success in life.”
She felt that way because KMOX has a special place in the history of radio. The first talk radio station in the country, it is a legendary 50,000 watt newsradio station that dominated Arbitron ratings for most of the last four decades. At night, KMOX’s signal at 1120 on the AM dial reaches 42 states.
Listening to the station so faithfully led him to a passion for the medium. While he decided to go into medicine and his medical career took him from med school at the University of Illinois, through Chicago to Detroit to South Dakota to Wyoming, he held on to his love of radio. He moonlighted at a few stations along the way, including KTWO in Casper, WY.
“I played music, read news and did weekends from 1986 to 1993,” he says.
The reason his stay at KTWO ended in 1993 was because he returned to his hometown of Edwardsville to practice emergency medicine at Barnes-Jewish and Washington University. He wasn’t off the air long as he began doing a Monday night jazz show at WSIE. But when the station moved to airing syndicated programming in 2002, for the first time in years he was off the air.
“To me, radio is a very intimate one-on-one experience and I missed not being on the air,” he says.
In 2007, KMOX was interested in adding health coverage to their morning news program, “Total Information AM” and through meeting with Barnes-Jewish’s media relations team on KMOX producers, he wound up being a regular part of the program.
“He brings to the table a variety of interesting topics that are always well researched,” says Chris Mihill, KMOX executive producer. “He could not be doing a better job.”
Dr. Primrose does so well, that his role is expanded to host the occasional weekend call-in show, “KMOX Grand Rounds.” The program allows listeners to get medical advice and find out the latest medical news.
While he is slowing down his medical career after 43 years in medicine – Dr. Primrose is now only part-time in the Barnes-Jewish emergency department – he plans on being more involved in radio moving forward.
“Long term I want to keep doing it,” he says.