The Ultra Collaborative Podcast Community
13 Kids Listen Collaborations
Podcasting can be a lonely art, lonely enough to make you want to drop the mic.
Despite the best efforts of recommendation algorithms, word-of-mouth remains the best way to get your podcast in front of new ears. Do you need to join a network to cross-promote your show and collaborate on content that will stretch beyond your feed? Nope. You just need to be part of a community of podcasters that believes in working together.
Kids Listen is just such a grassroots community committed to articulating the value of high-quality audio for kids. Many observers assume Kids Listen is a podcast network — it’s not. But in our experience independently producing Ear Snacks, to such an open, cooperative association of passionate people has afforded us as many — if not more — opportunities to co-produce and share content with new audiences than if we’d belonged to a network.
Here are (toot toot) 13 ways we’ve collaborated with Kids Listen members:
We love talking to kids — it’s part of our work as children’s musicians, and it’s the centerpiece of every Ear Snacks episode. So naturally we jumped at the chance to talk to Nate Butkus, an 8-year-old kid who interviews adult scientists for his podcast The Show About Science. Nate’s an awesome role model for kids interested in exploring their passions and brave enough to have conversations with grown ups about big ideas — we’ve had him on Ear Snacks twice, once to discuss his fish photography, and once to guide us though the world of science letters, including his unforgettable explanation of how DNA and RNA work. He provides the facts, we provide da beatz.
Our 4-year-old loves challenging himself to pay attention to Cool Facts About Animals so he can take their friendly 3-question “creature Quiz” at the end of each episode. Since our most recent Ear Snacks topic was Teeth, we asked the Portland-based podcast family to try and stump us about animal teeth. (Oh also, we wrote them a folksy little theme song just for fun, and we’re so flattered they use it!)
We knew both the grown-up hosts of Wow in the World before they launched NPR’s breakout podcast a year-and-a-half ago, and both have been generous enough to chat with us about topics randomly relevant to their lives: Guy Raz discusses Glasses, and how different people view the world, and Mindy Thomas will appear on an upcoming episode all about Pajamas!
We try to make Earn Snacks episodes emulate the almost elemental aspects of learning through the eyes of a young child — what is something made of, where did it come from, how do we use it, how could we use it? NPR’s The Music Box out of WUOL in Kentucky explores classical music composition in a similar way, and we invited violinist and host Sara Louise Callaway to help us think about the way glass can be used as a musical instrument for our Glasses episode.
5. Brains On!
One of the OG kids podcasts, Brains On! multiplies public radio gravitas by 3 hosts and kids around the world chiming in to this mainstay science fun fact factory. We invited host Molly Bloom on Ear Snacks to share her expertise preparing to cover the Great American Eclipse, and we contributed a yet-to-be-released original song we wrote with Lucky Diaz to infuse their Salty Snack Science episode with The Legend of Nacho.
This collaboration is small, but inviting Beebop — host Jonathan Messigner’s robot co-host/alter ego who often takes over the show’s meta commentary and even lands his own spinoff show — to celebrate Love Your Robot Day as a guest on Ear Snacks opened up a world of fictional guest possibilities for us. Jonathan makes it easy and appealing for fans to contribute drawings and even sound effects to this serial sci-fi adventure,
7. Peace Out
Serenity now. No really, you can have it — on long car rides, strolling home from school, rousing uncontainably when the sun has yet to rise — when you listen to Peace Out, a mindfulness & meditation podcast. We invited Chanel Tsang to guide our Ear Snacks listeners through a meditation on Seeds and we contributed music and thoughtful children’s voices to Peace Out’s contemplation on “Calming Down.”
This rad science discovery podcast (I guess we talk to science people a lot?) is hosted by Lindsay and Marshall, our original partners -in -crime to begin the Kids Listen community in the Spring of 2016. We guest-hosted an encore episode of their show about ocean trash, and Marshall introduced our listeners to his amazing 6-foot-long medieval lute — a Theorbo — in our series about Strings!
Daniel Hinds, creator of the ever-popular Stories podcast, asked us to write some theme music and bumpers for this new show about tracking down mythological creatures. So we did!
Speaking of Micks, we answered the call along with many other Kids Listen members when Mick Sullivan wanted to create a montage of voices reading the famous poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty for his podcast The Past & The Curious. Mick is a museum educator out of Kentucky who had planned to be in the Path of Totality last August, so he also contributed to our episode about The Great American Eclipse.
11. What If World
We’ve sporadically invented voices and improvised short stories on Ear Snacks, but Mr. Eric challenged us to a whole new scope of narration when he invited us to collaborate on a musical insect story that has aired on his podcast What If World and will air when we discuss our next topic, Bugs!
12. Circle Round
Another one of our 4-year-old’s current favorite podcasts, Circle Round’s Jessica Alpert reached out to us about sharing each other’s content with our respective audiences. When we collaborate on content or use audio from another show, we always want to incorporate it organically into the topic we’re discussing — fortunately, Circle Round’s vast body of folk tales from around the world offer great storytelling built around morals fit for any occasion.We chose the topic of Teeth on Ear Snacks not only for the strange milestones of dentist’s visits and loosing teeth, but also to touch on the big feelings around biting and being bitten.We aired “The Lion’s Whisker” to nod to the essential roots of biting — frustration — and how a brother and sister undertake a quest that helps them learn the patience they need to get along.
13. But Why?
We’re always striving to help young kids expand the reach of their understanding, but sometimes we bump into the limit of what we’re willing to expose our audience to.We occasionally offer Ear Snacks for Parents when we want to tackle harder or more adult content that could still serve a purpose in your kids’ lives, just not directly through their ears.Jane Lindholm from VPR’s But Why? helped us address just such a question last February when we wanted to prepare parents of Ear Snacks listeners for our upcoming discussion of Bad Guys.We had already delayed the release of the episode in the wake of the Parkland shooting, but we felt it was really important to preface our upcoming episodes with context of our philosophy of empathy and supportive parenting. But Why often tackles difficult topics many kids programs aren’t able to address and we greatly appreciate having such thoughtful colleagues like Jane who are willing to extend their expertise and wisdom to audiences beyond their own.
We’re thankful to the 13 podcasts above for helping us make awesome media for kids, and excited for the next chance to put our minds together with the incredibly talented and generous creators we’ve met through Kids Listen. You make this gig a little less lonely.