Back in February, my 11 year old son John launched his eponymous podcast on iTunes – The Johncast. And as of this post, he has now published 24 episodes of “The podcast for cool and smart kids…your oasis from homework, vegetables, and your parents!”
This idea came out of nowhere and that alone is a powerful lesson, i.e. leave a lot of blank space in your calendar for edu-serendipity!
Well, I have to admit, it didn’t totally come out of nowhere in the sense that about 12 months ago I started my broadcast career with my own weekly AM radio show.
I had to quit it this past March because it was taking a lot of my time but nevertheless I managed to learn a TON while on air. I learned how to prep, how to make a compelling statement, how to handle LIVE time constraints, how to interview guests, how to conjure up fresh content, how to storytell, how to center my show on the listeners, etc.
Of course podcasting is a big deal these days – much in the same way blogging burst onto the scene about 12-15 years ago. However, shockingly there’s still a huge percentage of people that don’t listen to any of the amazing and free podcasts out there. If you are in that category, I’d encourage you to get started. I only started about 15 months ago when I broke down and got an iPhone. The great thing about audio is that it’s what they call a secondary activity. You can listen while you drive, while you exercise, while you do housework, etc. The big payoff though, obviously, is discovering ideas, people, resources, and inspiration that can drastically change your life!
So each week, in addition to all his other work, John has to create a new 8 minute podcast episode. He has to keep his eyes and ears peeled for mostly funny but also interesting content. Jokes, pranks, stories,…John regularly interviews other kids for his shows. And in fact, John has interviewed a children’s book author too. That one you can listen to below:
This isn’t so easy for an 11 year old, or anyone for that matter. Some, if not many, of his ideas are bad (insert the cricket sound effect). He procrastinates, prolifically to the point where the weekend can be hectic with him scrambling to muster up a show each Sunday.
I help him a lot but quite frankly it’s still very hard for him, still very much takes him outside his comfort zone – just like that live radio show did for me!
For example, we’ve come up with a few ideal core components for each episode – one of which is having “other kids” on his show. So each week he’s struggling to find other kids that are either at our house and are willing to hop over to the microphone or are online and can Skype for a bit (he records the call). It’s not as easy as you might think. People are very busy. Kids, including the host(!), are scatterbrained. And John has had to learn that he needs to ask about 10 kids just to get, maybe, one of them to accommodate. So he’s learning about “sales”, “follow-up”, and real world persistence!
There’s also a technical side to production. He uses the complicated multi-track player on Adobe Audition to weave it all together. He grabs sound effects and royalty-free music from the web and knows how to overlay and fade them within his show. John also edits the clips, killing the ums and ahs and the dead spaces within conversations. Watch the short clip below:
John also has to upload it to the hosting service (Libsyn), update the show notes, and credit whatever music he may have inserted. THEN there’s the marketing of it. John has had to learn how to get new listeners, subscribers, and reviewers. Self-promotion of this sort, of course, never ends. When he’s at camp or meeting new kids on the beach, he’s always telling them about his podcast that they should listen to. He’s even been known to take your phone and manually subscribe you to the Johncast!
Again, this never ends – the creating, the production, and the selling grind. It’s sort of like….work in the real world.
Along the way he has learned tons already. We all do when embarking on a totally new adventure – especially one so far removed from traditional academics.
It has required some financial investment. I already had the $600 microphone for my show. But I also purchased a podcasting course for $1,300. Audition is part of Adobe’s creative suite (with Photoshop, etc.) that runs $50 per month. And the hosting costs another $15 per month. All of this can be done cheaper but since I’m launching a podcast too, soon, it’s very justifiable. It’s also justifiable because I believe fervently in investing EARLY in children, rather that at the end (i.e. college) when the ROI is so much less.
So this podcasting curriculum is weaving together creativity, technical skills, business training, and entrepreneurship all at the same time.
It’s so much more important and powerful than textbook learning, don’t you think???
Check out the promotional T-shirts we had made too:
I have to say it again – you and your kids should be listening to educational and kid-friendly podcasts (and audiobooks), ideally without ear-damaging headphones. The Johncast would be great to play for your kids in the car or other dead time.
And you can definitely get your kids on the show if you or they like. They can go to John’s website and record voice message, asking John anything they like.
If you want to set up a podcast for your own kids, John would be happy to help them get started.