James Kee, a seven -year-old from San Francisco, has found something even better than TV. Since the NPR podcast
for kids, Wow in the World, debuted in May, he’s listened to every episode three times. “It’s funner” than television, James said. “My brain works better.”
When the show’s co-host, Guy Raz, came to James’ hometown for a live taping of his podcast for grown-ups, James’s mom arranged for them to meet .
As podcast makers look to expand their audience — just under a quarter of Americans have listened to a podcast in the past month — they’re turning to a previously untapped demographic: children.
The public radio tradition that’s powered the recent podcast boom never invested much in children’s audio. But now that podcasting has allowed for endless shows on demand, audio makers are eager to get their content straight to children’s ears. And the technology that made podcasts possible — the smartphone — has also gifted its producers a golden sales pitch: Podcasts are being pushed as a guilt-free alternative to screen time, a more engaging option than zoned-out YouTube bingeing or hypnotising mobile games.
The market is suddenly bustling. This month, the podcast network Panoply introduces a subscription app for kids, Pinna, which offers a digital toy box full of ad-free audio for listeners 4 to 12. Gen-Z Media, a new youth-focused production company, is cooking up a suite of new scripted podcasts for children. There’s even an advocacy organisation, Kids Listen, which lobbies for more and better content for children.
Podcast makers are trying to create an entirely new form — one that needs to train kids and parents to follow new family traditions. Sticking a kid in front of the morning cartoons may carry a whiff of stigma, but it’s just as easy as it ever was. Also, it’s free.
©2017 The New York Times News Service