The Checkup – Meltdown U.

mza_5213830733565108773.170x170-75The Checkup is a brand new Slate/WBUR Boston collabo. The hosts are New York Times Boston bureau chief, Carey Goldberg and Rachel Zimmerman, a former healthcare reporter at the Wall Street Journal.

As I’ve said before with podcasts in their infancy, take my critique with a grain of salt; three episodes in, this toddler is definitely still finding its footing.

First Impressions of “The Checkup”

The subject matter is a little formulaic. It feels like this was pitched by print veterans. Lots of seasonality here. I anticipate an episode on obesity, or diet and mental health, come Thanksgiving. Maybe one on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) by the time January rolls around.

This was a simple back-to-school piece. But the focus was on stress. It seems 18 year olds starting college often find themselves in an unmanageable perfect storm of anxiety. Who knew? I did. As did any other person who’s ever started an undergraduate program at a university after graduating from high school.

Meltdown U. claims to “get inside the college student’s brain, with frank talk about mental health problems.” The focus is on inadequate on-campus psychiatric facilities. But the story feels more like a scare piece than it does investigative journalism, targeted at the parents of kids starting college.

I had a hard time staying with this one.

The verdict: Americans are bombarded by specious “medical studies” on an hourly basis. Everyday there’s something new that’s killing us it seems. I’m in the mood for a show that focuses on what certain countries, including ours, are doing right about health care, on a national and an individual level. This one may get good some day, but as it stands, the subject matter is well-trodden and the hosts are having a hard-time propping it up.

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