Health is their top priority

Susanne Whatley and Gregory Zarian were taking turns before a brightly lit mirror to finish any last makeup and wardrobe touches before taping “Healthline.”

Minutes later, they would take the stairs to the studio’s second floor to host an episode on disaster preparedness. The show’s guests were Glendale Fire Chief Harold Scoggins and the department’s Public Safety Director Tanya Gregorian.

A product of Glendale Adventist Medical Center and the Armenian Media Group of America, Inc., Healthline offers Whatley and Zarian a platform to interview health professionals and explore general wellness and health research within the field.

Since it began airing in August 2009 on Glendale’s local Charter Cable channel, Healthline has regularly reached more than 300,000 people, officials say. The original mission remains intact: “To get people talking about their health,” as Zarian put it. “It’s about people really paying attention to their health, asking their doctors questions — knowing what to ask.”

They’ve now taken the show’s television platform and put it on Facebook where Whatley and Zarian hope to answer as many questions as they can, directly from viewers, no matter what those questions are.

Before the show had its own Facebook page, Zarian posted a doctor’s tip on Glendale Adventist’s Facebook page, suggesting curing athlete’s foot with white vinegar and black tea. The tip received about 150 hits in no time, convincing him how hungry people are for such information.

Both hosts admit they pay more attention to their well-being than they did before.

“It’s given me a vast appreciation for my own good health,” Whatley said.

Zarian is also more grounded. “Because of this show, I don’t believe I am as invincible as I thought I was,” he said.

The doctors they have spoken with have armed both hosts with the critical points of a healthy lifestyle: Drink eight glasses of water each day, exercise 150 minutes per week, sleep seven to nine hours at night, eat colorful plates of food.

“Colorful meaning more fruits and vegetables,” Zarian he said. “Going back to the basics.”

Whatley is a journalist who formerly worked for KFWB-AM (980) and anchors for the National Public Radio affiliate station KPCC-FM (89.3). Zarian is a motivational speaker and actor who recently starred in the film “Reconciliation.”

Where Zarian can be passionate about men’s health statistics — (“Every hundred breast cancer diagnoses… One or two are men,” he said) Whatley can bring the perspective of a mother. Her two daughters are also her shopping partners at the La Cañada Farmers Market near where they live. And now more than ever before, Whatley views food and nutrition as the “one common thread” among humans and the ailments they face.

Last summer, her girls, ages 12 and 9, discovered a new fruit, the Vitamin C-rich pluot, an apricot and plum mix. The discovery was a helpful diversion for Whatley’s girls, who, like many children, she says, face junk food’s temptations at every turn.

“I hadn’t seen them this excited since they discovered Fun Dip, which is, you know, one of those dreadful candies,” she said laughing.

When Whatley and Zarian are in the studio together, the questions they ask are questions anyone would ask; they think as any patient in the hospital would think. Kim Milstein, who serves as vice president of business development for Glendale Adventist, immediately turned down the original idea that she serve as a host for the show.

“I knew that anybody who worked in the hospital was going to come with a natural bias,” she said. “We work in healthcare so we get caught up in the jargon. We really do want this to be for the community, not the healthcare workers in the community.”

Healthline airs at 7 p.m. each Tuesday on Charter Cable Channel 380. The viewer call-in number is (818) 547-3668.

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