Radio show welcomes new host, bids adieu to retiring founder
Published on Friday, June 29, 2018
By: Ruth Cummins
When Dr. Rick deShazo signed off the air for the final time June 6 as the original host of Southern Remedy, Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s flagship wellness radio program, his replacement didn’t need to be trained for the task.
That would be Dr. Jimmy Stewart, host of the Thursday “Southern Remedy: Kids and Teens,” who’s been answering listeners’ questions since October 2014. Stewart, professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. With a focus on hypertension, Stewart has covered the tumultuous child and adolescent years, drawing in part on his experiences as a father of two sons.
Replacing Stewart in the statewide radio network’s lineup of five weekly wellness programs hosted by UMMC physicians is Dr. Morgan McLeod, assistant professor of medicine, who served as chief resident for academic medicine and pediatrics from 2016-17.
A Byram native and Mississippi College graduate, Stewart has been with the Medical Center for about 25 years, beginning with his entry into the School of Medicine in 1993 and followed by his residency training in internal medicine and pediatrics. He also serves as associate dean for graduate medical education, scaling back his clinical duties to lead programs in the Office of Graduate Medical Education.
“Anybody who knows Dr. deShazo will agree: What the program will be losing on Wednesdays is his presence,” Stewart said of the Billy S. Guyton Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics who was at the helm of Southern Remedy for 13 years.
deShazo is retiring and returning to his Birmingham, Alabama, roots, but will remain with UMMC as a professor emeritus.
“I hate to go back to my spawning ground, but that’s what tadpoles do,” deShazo said on his final show. “I’ll be listening, like you, every week at 11 o’clock.”
What deShazo said he’ll miss the most about hosting the program is “the opportunity to visit on the phone with people from Mississippi, Alabama and lots of other places outside of our state who call in.
“I am most happy that we have received emails and other communications demonstrating that the information provided by our hosts has in fact been life-saving in a number of cases, and life-changing in many others.”
Sometimes you just didn’t know what to expect on deShazo’s show, Stewart said.
“The first time I went on the show with him as a guest, he kept giving me hand signals,” Stewart said. “Depending on the situation, sometimes a hand signal meant him talking, and sometimes a hand signal meant for me to wrap it up. It was up to me to determine what the signals meant – what his code was.”
A Terry resident, Stewart said he has no plans to change the format that has worked so well on deShazo’s show.
“Southern Remedy is a great outreach to the state,” Stewart said. “The cornerstone is being able to call in on anything and everything. We will stick with the formula. It’s directly connected to the listeners.”
After receiving her B.A. in biology from the University of Mississippi in 2007, McLeod earned her M.D. in 2012 at UMMC, where she had an internship and residency in internal medicine and pediatrics. The Madison resident joined the UMMC faculty in 2016.
“I never thought I’d be doing this,” McLeod said of her Southern Remedy show. “I initially was a little hesitant, but I’d heard Dr. Stewart talking about it forever. After watching them for a few weeks, I saw how fun it would be.”
Her first show was June 21. “I enjoyed the people who called in,” she said. The topic was water safety and other summer activities in which safety plays a role.
“It’s another way to provide care for the people in Mississippi,” McLeod said. “I’d like to do a back-to-school show at some point and to get a dermatologist to come on the show and talk about common skin issues and rashes.
“I’m going to poll some of my friends about the top 10 questions we get in clinic about kids, and divide those between two shows.”
Interspersed through deShazo’s last broadcast were words of thanks to the listeners who faithfully followed him.
“I’m old enough now that I need a break,” he said. “I’m a geriatric geriatrician. They don’t make many of those anymore.
“I’m 73. I know I look about 25 because of my close relationship with plastic surgeons at UMMC.”
Southern Remedy took a lot of its personality from deShazo, said Jason Klein, MPB’s director of radio.
“That personality will always be there as a tip of the hat to Dr. Rick,” Klein said. “However, each show is really about the mission and what we’re trying to do, which is inform Mississippians on health care. It will find a new tone that sounds just like Jimmy.”