Walgreen’s newsmagazine: a complex, network-scale, expertly made series

Walgreen’s opening graphic was art directed by Swell’s Nadia Hennrich.

Dr. Lisa Thornton is the show host, and child/adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Bennett Leventhal provides a 2-minute commentary.

Nadia Hennrich is supervising editor of Walgreen’s 26 shows; Tom Engel and Michael Rafayko are series’ co-executive producers.

“Walgreen’s Health Corner” TV news magazine has the right prescription for infotainment. Medical experts, including a U of C child psychiatrist, patients and their families, pharmacists and more provide more health information in a half-hour than one often gets from his own doctor.

The smartly-produced half-hour series of network quality, began its 26-week run earlier this month over Superstation WGN (10:30 a.m. Saturdays on Ch. 9) with the potential of reaching 56 million households in all 50 states.

TV veterans Tom Engel of Engel Productions, and Michael Rafayko of MRPS, are the co-executive producers. They assembled some of the most experienced hands at both show production and medical information.

Show Central is Swell’s NBC Tower offices, where nine new shows are in some stage of production or post. Budget is easily in seven figures.

Each episode is categorized by a single health issue presented in a five-minute “profile” or mini doc, and augmented with short features, or departments, that amplify the profile, explained supervising producer Judith McCray. She is a former Ch. 11 producer and head of her own Juneteenth productions.

The shows are researched and written by health-experienced writers — head writer Doug Nesbitt, Mardelle Hansen and Shawna Hanson ? who had worked with Tom Engel on other health-related projects.

Hosted by Dr. Lisa Thornton, president of the medical staff of Schwab Rehabilitation Institute, “the profile’s purpose is to offer the most current thinking and provide the most helpful information and areas about these issues, and to show a hopeful outlook about them,” McCray explained. Tim Ward, a former Ch. 11 director, tapes the profiles at Orbis’ TV studio three times a week.

A variety of departments augment the profiles, such as questions asked of the man in the street, informational factoids, tips on dealing with the health issue and old wives tales. One-minute with a Walgreen’s pharmacist taped in a store is part of the mix.

Supervising editor/graphics is Swell’s Nadia Hennrich, the acclaimed European editor, who created the graphics and animation elements. She works with two or three editors at any one time, spending three weeks out of the month on the shows. Swell’s general manager Dave Mueller is postproduction supervisor.

Her team includes online editor Bernie Dudek, flame artist Rick Thompson, editors Jill Bzibziak, Shannon Schoenfelder, Jared Sirota and Paul Buranosky. Audio engineers are Dave Leffel, Justin Mayer, and Jonathan Durlan. Swell president Mike Topel composed the show’s musical identity.

The show’s segment producers are Sarah Klein and Kim Wojtonik; coordinating producer is Heidi Zersen; associate producer is Brian Kohler; researcher, Jessie Engel and Jennifer Dranchak is production coordinator/secretary.

Final taping March 15 will complete the 26 shows.

McCray and the others can be reached at Swell, 312/464-8000.