PRX, PBS KIDS, and CPB today announced six teams of audio creators who will participate in the Ready To Learn Podcast Accelerator, a podcast training and development program for producers creating new educational content for children ages 4–8. The program is a component of the new CPB-PBS Ready To Learn Initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Education.
Guided by a framework of introducing children to the world of work or future careers, content developed in this program will also encourage parents and caregivers to support their children’s interests. Announced in February, the Ready To Learn Podcast Accelerator will take place virtually over 16 weeks from June through September 2021. An extensive curriculum developed by PRX and project partners at PBS KIDS and CPB will empower participants to navigate through developing a pilot episode and production plan, build processes and skills, and form community among fellow creators at a time when demand for trusted, family-friendly audio content is on the rise.
Creators in the program will receive regular feedback on all aspects of production via a variety of workshops and intensive sessions, as well as a $10,000 stipend to assist with production and operational expenses. Participants may have their pilot podcasts selected for distribution on PBS KIDS digital platforms. Following the training period, PBS KIDS plans to commission more content from one of the participating podcast teams. In addition, participants will have access to and representation on PRX’s industry-leading podcast distribution and advertising platforms.
Participating audio creators in the Ready To Learn Podcast Accelerator include the following. Podcast titles and content are in development and are subject to change:
- “Abi And Radish’’ — Raleigh, North Carolina — Creators include Grant Holub-Moorman, community outreach coordinator and audio journalist for North Carolina Public Radio, producer Mecail Martin, who after becoming blind, pursued a college degree in journalism and mass communication, and educator Janet Perez, who has extensive experience working with students from a wide spectrum of backgrounds, abilities, and ages. This fictional intergalactic adventure podcast stars Abi, who is daring and blind, and Radish, a shape-shifting invention translating the world of sight into sound. Abi’s family and neighbors innovate new ways to work and play as they travel the universe.
- “Ava’s Everyday Adventures with Grandpa” — Alexandria, Virginia — Creators include DJ Rolls, a preschool educator and former ESL/English language instructor, narrative designer Andrés Salgado, and Julio S. Gonzalez, founder of audio media company XIMER.co and member of the Board of Directors of Fairfax Futures, a nonprofit in Virginia partnering with the Fairfax County Office for Children to develop early childhood education initiatives focused on underserved communities. This fiction podcast features the adventures of Ava, a young bilingual girl growing up in the U.S., and her grandpa who conjures up stories and adventures encouraging interpersonal and life skills.
- “Book Adventures” — Brooklyn, New York — From the Brooklyn Public Library, creators include children’s librarian Rachel Tiemann, library podcast producer and former WBUR public radio producer Virginia Marshall, and school outreach librarian Sheneatha Frison, who has also toured internationally as a performer with the World Famous Harlem Gospel Choir. This kid-driven podcast introduces audiences to a range of fun topics. For example, have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a train engineer, brain surgeon, or game designer?
- “Keyshawn the Keymaker” — Minneapolis, Minnesota — Creators include entertainer and children’s media creator Ed Jenkins, who also serves as Children’s Ministry Director at Excelsior Covenant Church in Minnesota, and podcaster Avery Moore Kloss, a graduate of the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies and founder of the Ontario-based audio storytelling company Folktale Studio. In this fiction podcast, a young boy uses a key-making machine to become an entrepreneur and learns important lessons on his journey to unlock the door to success.
- “What Do You Want to Do?” — New York, New York — Creators include artist Brett Tubbs, producer and songwriter Megan Bagala, whose work has been featured in podcasts Marvel Entertainment, Gimlet Media, and America’s Test Kitchen, and Luis Moira, a teaching artist with Broadway for the Arts who also serves as artistic director of Bilingual Broadway, a production company aiming to create digital and live content for Spanish-speaking audiences. Their podcast will dive into career paths kids might want to try when they grow up while reminding them that their inherent values come from within.
- “Work Bag” — Durham, North Carolina — In partnership with PBS North Carolina, the creative team includes Andrés Salguero and Christina Sanabria of the Latin Grammy-winning duo 123 Andrés, acclaimed musician Pierce Freelon, founder of the Afrofuturism digital makerspace, Blackspace, and co-founder of the Emmy-winning PBS Digital series, Beat Making Lab, and David Huppert, director of PBS North Carolina’s Media Innovation Lab. This podcast combines vocabulary-rich descriptions, pretend play, and interviews with people who use objects in their everyday jobs to explore what people do all day.
“We believe public media can, and should, be the vanguard for excellence in podcasting for youth and their families,” said Kerri Hoffman, CEO at PRX. “PRX is proud to play a leading role in supporting the ambition of a collaborative effort through the Ready To Learn initiative, and we look forward to working with these incredibly creative teams of podcast producers.”
“We’re thrilled by the opportunity to work with this wide range of talented creators,” said Lesli Rotenberg, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, Children’s Media and Education, PBS. “All children should be represented on PBS KIDS, whether on screen or through innovative audio content, and we’re excited to bring new, authentic stories to kids across the country through this program.”
“These six creative teams will bring original ideas and new voices to podcasting and to the Ready To Learn initiative, which supports young children’s learning on new and innovative platforms, said Debra Tica Sanchez, Senior Vice President of Education and Children’s Content at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “We are pleased to provide this opportunity for them to develop podcasts that will encourage children and their families to learn together.”
For more about the Ready to Learn Podcast Accelerator, visit prx.org/ready-to-learn.
PRX is a public media organization shaping the future of audio by producing and distributing content, building technology, and training talented, independent producers. With an award-winning portfolio ranging from iconic public media programs such as “The Moth Radio Hour,” “TED Talks Daily,” “This American Life”, “Snap Judgment,” “Latino USA,” “The World,” and “Reveal,” PRX also powers a growing body of podcast-first productions, including the Radiotopia podcast network and the TRAX podcast network for tweens. Visit prx.org for more.
About PBS KIDS
PBS KIDS believes the world is full of possibilities, and so is every child. As the number one educational media brand for kids, PBS KIDS helps children ages 2–8 learn lessons that last a lifetime. Through television, digital media, and community-based programs, PBS KIDS wants children to see themselves uniquely reflected and celebrated in lovable, diverse characters who serve as positive role models, and to explore their feelings and discover new adventures along the way. Families can watch PBS KIDS anytime on the free PBS KIDS 24/7 channel and the PBS KIDS Video app, available on mobile and connected-TV devices, no subscription required. PBS KIDS’ large collection of mobile apps and pbskids.org provide accessible content, including digital games and streaming video to spark kids’ curiosity. PBS KIDS and local stations across the country support the entire ecosystem in which children learn and grow — including their teachers, parents, and community — providing resources to support children’s learning, anytime and anywhere. For more information, visit pbs.org/pressroom, or follow PBS KIDS on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,500 locally managed and operated public television and radio stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television and related online services. For more information, visit cpb.org, follow us on Twitter @CPBmedia, Facebook and LinkedIn and subscribe for other updates.
About The Ready To Learn Initiative
The Ready To Learn Initiative is a cooperative agreement funded and managed by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE). It supports the development of innovative educational television and digital media targeted to preschool and early elementary school children and their families. Its general goal is to promote early learning and school readiness, with a particular interest in reaching children living in low-income households. In addition to creating television and other media products, the program supports activities intended to promote national distribution of the programming, effective educational uses of the programming, community-based outreach, and research on educational effectiveness.
The contents of this release were developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. The project is funded by a Ready To Learn grant (PR/Award No. S295A200004, CFDA №84.295A) provided by the Department of Education to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
David Cotrone — Senior Manager, Public Relations & Communications at PRX David.Cotrone@prx.org