On April 25th, CMA hosted Screen Disrupter: The Rise of Children’s Podcasts at Retro Report in Manhattan. The event consisted of a panel of kid-friendly podcast producers: Meredith Halpern Ranzer, David Kreizman, Lee Overtree, and Andy Bowers, who talked business models, processes, and the benefits of this media.
Meredith Halpern Ranzer, Tinkercast’s Chief Executive for NPR’s first-ever children’s podcast, Wow in the World, served as our moderator as well as a panelist. The panel consisted of Lee Overtree, producer and co-host of The Story Pirates Podcast from Gimlet Media, David Kreizman, co-creator and head writer of the hit middle-grade audio program, “The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel”, and Andy Bowers, Chief Content Officer and Co-Founder of Panoply Media.
The group discussed benefits of using the screen against itself, which allows for co-authorship and higher levels of retention as kids (and adults) are immersed in the stories being told. Storytelling has been around for as long as we can remember and parents are rediscovering its magic through this media where audiences are forced to activate their imaginations.
Our panelists discussed their different approaches, which vary from utilizing real news stories found in scientific journals, to original mystery scripted plot lines, to kids submitting their own ideas. Each one of these styles having their own successes and methods for marketing. They could all agree, however, that with this new medium, they are learning as they go. Their shows have all relied on sharing audiences, word of mouth publicity, and occasional cross promotions (NPR) to gain popularity. And don’t rule out children’s podcasting when it comes to stunt casting to gain listeners. Gimlet’s Story Pirates occasionally features celeb talent, including High Maintenance’s Ben Sinclair, to activate a network and generate interest in the community. Other methods include contests, mailing lists, social media, or even implementing subscription models.
The discussion, of course, dove into how schools are going to be big with podcasts, integrating content into today’s curriculum. Educators have been known to build on listening comprehension skills with integrated co-listening experiences. The panel also noted benefits for the visually impaired, children with autism and learning disabilities, ESL learners, and even taping scripted podcasts for in-class performances! Opportunities for creativity are off the charts since content creators are not limited by their budget when creating imaginative worlds with the use of sound design and music. Almost as if they are cartoons for the ear, building upon the listeners “relationships with their earballs.”
With so few children’s podcasts on the market at the moment, each producer discussed their challenges in figuring out their own business model for creating a successful 360 brand with extensions, looking and achieving success before the market is overflowing with options and everything just becomes “ear candy.” If you’ve been dreaming of launching your own children’s podcast series, now is certainly the time!