Kids board the podcast train

“Now is the time to take what we’ve learned from the podcast revolution and apply it to our littlest listeners.”

Kids podcasts will go mainstream this year. Now that adults are consuming more podcasts than ever, we’ll see patterns emerge as they share podcasts with kids — who are naturally engaged listeners and who love storytelling.

libby-bawcombeOver the past year, the conversation around kids podcasts has continued to gather steam. Media organizations like Nieman Lab, Hot Pod, The Current, The Atlantic, Poynter, educators’ sites, and parenting blogs continue to explore the benefits for kids of listening to podcasts, plus their lasting effects on development and learning.

Podcast producer Lindsay Patterson wondered why there aren’t more podcasts for kids, and Poynter columnist Melody Kramer countered with a list of public media options. But citing a collection of a couple dozen shows doesn’t cut it when you compare this modest number to the bajillions of podcasts created for adults. (“Bajillions” is a technical term.)

As a member of Kids Listen — the grassroots organization created by kids podcasters — I’ve become more aware of the triumphs and challenges that kids podcasts currently face. And while a handful of public media outlets and independent producers are making truly great podcasts for kids, we need to find solutions to affect changes in behavior, discovery issues, and user interfaces.

These key points will determine whether kids podcasts can go mainstream this year:

  • Changes in behavior: Parents could consider kids podcasts as the antidote to “screen time,” offering entertaining and educational listening experiences for kids.
  • Discovery issues: Listening apps could find better ways to make kids content more easily discoverable. (Exhibit A: the quagmire that is the iTunes “Kids and Family” category.)
  • User interfaces: Please find an app or website that is designed for kids to find podcasts created for kids. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

When we address behavior changes, discovery issues, and user interfaces, organizations will invest their resources in creating programming for kids. Now is the time to take what we’ve learned from the podcast revolution and apply it to our littlest listeners. I believe the children are our future — teach them well and let them listen to podcasts.

Libby Bawcombe is senior visual product designer at NPR.

Cory Haik   Navigating power in Trump’s America

Elizabeth Jensen   Trust depends on the details

Coleen O'Lear   Back to basics

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Truthiness in private spaces

Jon Slade   Trusted news, at a premium

David Chavern   Fake news gets solved

Reyhan Harmanci   Bear witness — but then what?

Dan Colarusso   Let’s make live video we can love

Libby Bawcombe   Kids board the podcast train

Ariane Bernard   Better data about your users

Gabriel Snyder   The aberration of 20th-century journalism

Tim Herrera   The safe space of service journalism

Nathalie Malinarich   Making it easy

An Xiao Mina   2017 is for the attention innovators

Richard J. Tofel   The country doesn’t trust us — but they do believe us

Alice Antheaume   A new test for French media

Maria Bustillos   “It’s true — I saw it on Facebook”

Asma Khalid   The year of the newsy podcast

Keren Goldshlager   Defining a focus, and then saying no

Errin Haines Whack   Chaos or community?

Andy Rossback   The year of the user

Katie Zhu   The year of minority media

Christopher Meighan   Unlocking a deeper mobile experience

Mario García   Virtual reality on mobile leaps forward

Dhiya Kuriakose   The year of digital detoxing

Jonathan Hunt   Measurement companies get with the times

Mira Lowe   News literacy, bias, and “Hamilton”

Sarah Wolozin   Virtual reality on the open web

Guy Raz   Inspiration and hope will matter more than ever

Robert Hernandez   History will exclude you, again

Claire Wardle   Verification takes center stage

Michael Oreskes   Reversing the erosion of democracy

Dan Gillmor   Fix the demand side of news too

Bill Keller   A healthy skepticism about data

Hillary Frey   Forests need to burn to regrow

David Weigel   A test for online speech

Ken Schwencke   Disaggregation and collection

Taylor Lorenz   “Selfie journalism” becomes a thing

Lam Thuy Vo   The primary source in the age of mechanical multiplication

Jonathan Stray   A boom in responsible conservative media

Emily Goligoski   Incorporating audience feedback at scale

Sam Ford   The year we talk about our awful metrics

Peter Sterne   A dangerous anti-press mix

Tim Griggs   The year we stop taking sides

Mike Ragsdale   A smarter information diet

Molly de Aguiar   Philanthropists galvanize around news

Francesco Marconi   The year of augmented writing

Renée Kaplan   Pure reach has reached its limit

S.P. Sullivan   Baking transparency into our routines

Vivian Schiller   Tested like never before

Annemarie Dooling   UGC as a path out of the bubble

Liz Danzico   The triumph of the small

Rachel Schallom   Stop flying over the flyover states

Mary Walter-Brown   Getting comfortable asking for money

Rebekah Monson   Journalism is community-as-a-service

Matt Karolian   AI improves publishing

Julia Beizer   Building a coherent core identity

Emi Kolawole   From empathy to community

Laura Walker   Authentic voices, not fake news

Nicholas Quah   Podcasting’s coming class war

Ashley C. Woods   Local journalism will fight a new fight

Matt Waite   The people running the media are the problem

Joanne Lipman   The year of the drone, really

Margarita Noriega   From pinning tweets to tweeting pins

Felix Salmon   Headlines matter

P. Kim Bui   The year journalism teaches again

Anita Zielina   The sales funnel reaches (and changes) the newsroom

Javaun Moradi   What can we own?

Alexis Lloyd   Public trust for private realities

Sue Schardt   Objectivity, fairness, balance, and love

Doris Truong   Connecting with diverse perspectives

Almar Latour   Thanks, #fakenews

Ståle Grut   The battle for high-quality VR

Kathleen Kingsbury   Print as a premium offering

Megan H. Chan   Cultural reporting goes mainstream

Priya Ganapati   Mobile websites are ready for reinvention

Tanya Cordrey   The resurgence of reach

Lee Glendinning   A call for great editing

Sara M. Watson   There is no neutral interface

Burt Herman   Local news gets interesting

Rubina Madan Fillion   Snapchat grows up

Mathew Ingram   The Faustian Facebook dance continues

Dannagal G. Young   The return of the gatekeepers

Trushar Barot   API or die

Steve Henn   The next revolution is voice

Michael Kuntz   Trust is the new click

Adam Thomas   The coming collaboration across Europe

Carrie Brown-Smith   We won’t do enough

Juan Luis Sánchez   Your predictions are our present

Amy O'Leary   Not just covering communities, reaching them

David Skok   What lies beyond paywalls

Amy Webb   Journalism as a service

Andrew Ramsammy   Rise of the rebel journalist

Zizi Papacharissi   Distracted journalism looks in the mirror

Pablo Boczkowski   Fake news and the future of journalism

Swati Sharma   Failing diversity is failing journalism

Andrea Silenzi   Podcasts dive into breaking news analysis

Liz McMillen   The year of deep insights

Andrew Haeg   The year of listening

Carla Zanoni   Prioritizing emotional health

Corey Ford   The year of the rebelpreneur

Jim Friedlich   A banner year for venture philanthropy

Mandy Velez   The audience is the source and the story

M. Scott Havens   Quality advertising to pair with quality content

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Earn trust by working for (and with) readers

Erin Millar   The bottom falls out of Canadian media

Erin Pettigrew   A year of reflection in tech

Bill Adair   The year of the fact-checking bot

Ole Reißmann   Un-faking the news

Melody Kramer   Radically rethinking design

Samantha Barry   Messaging apps go mainstream

Tressie McMillan Cottom   A path through the media’s coming legitimacy crisis

Cindy Royal   Preparing the digital educator-scholar hybrid

Tracie Powell   Building reader relationships

Aja Bogdanoff   Comments start pulling their weight

Sydette Harry   Facing journalism’s history

Geetika Rudra   Journalism is community

Olivia Ma   The year collaboration beats competition

Nushin Rashidian   A rise in high-price, high-value subscriptions

Helen Havlak   Chasing mobile search results

Millie Tran   International expansion without colonial overtones

Mary Meehan   Feeling blue in a red state

Sarah Marshall   Focusing on the why of the click

Jeremy Barr   A terrible year for Tiers B through D

Kawandeep Virdee   Moving deeper than the machine of clicks

Caitlin Thompson   High touch, high value

Umbreen Bhatti   A sense of journalists’ humanity

Mark Armstrong   Time to pay up

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting stratifies into hard layers

Scott Dodd   Nonprofits team up for impact

Amie Ferris-Rotman   Вслед за Россией

Laura E. Davis   Show your work

Juliette De Maeyer and Dominique Trudel   A rebirth of populist journalism

Ray Soto   VR moves from experiments to immersion

Moreno Cruz Osório   The year of transparency in Brazilian journalism

Alberto Cairo   Communicating uncertainty to our readers

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   News after advertising may look like news before advertising

Rachel Sklar   Women are going to get loud

Andrew Losowsky   Building our own communities

Ryan McCarthy   Platforms grow up or grow more toxic