“60 Minutes” Brings FTD Awareness to Millions of TV Viewers
On May 5, the venerable CBS news program 60 Minutes aired a segment on FTD, bringing newfound awareness to a television audience of millions.
Entitled “The Cruelest Disease You’ve Never Heard Of,” the 14-minute segment introduced viewers to the symptoms of FTD and profiled several people whose lives have been touched by the disease.
Rome Hartman, lead producer of the segment, said that he was compelled to tell the story of FTD “partly because of how little known it is, and partly how devastating the symptoms are – and how difficult it is to diagnose.”
AFTD provided the show’s producers with background information on FTD and connected them with Bruce Miller, MD. Dr. Miller, who leads a robust FTD program at the University of California San Francisco and is a founding member of AFTD’s Medical Advisory Council, was the medical expert featured in the piece.
AFTD also connected producers with the Very Rev. Tracey Lind, who was diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia in 2016, and Amy Johnson, a mother of four young children whose husband has behavioral variant FTD, both of whom were also profiled in the story.
“I wish the illness didn’t exist,” Hartman said. “But given that it does, I’m grateful for the chance to have met these people and shared their stories with our audience.”
Upon airing, the story had an immediate and measurable impact on FTD awareness — a testament to the importance of sharing FTD stories. AFTD’s website had its highest-traffic day ever on May 5; May 6 was not far behind. All told, nearly 89,000 users accessed theaftd.org in May 2019, nearly five times the number of users from the previous May.
Inquiries to AFTD’s HelpLine also rose following the broadcast. AFTD staff provided practical, compassionate and medically accurate information in response to 351 HelpLine calls and emails in May 2019, up from 210 HelpLine cases in May 2018.
The full 60 Minutes piece is available online. A 60 Minutes Overtime segment, which features Hartman and reporter Bill Whitaker, provides a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the piece, and is available to watch on YouTube, along with a May 6 CBS This Morning interview with Dr. Ted Huey of Columbia University and AFTD’s Medical Advisory Council.