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.

Sarah Marshall   Focusing on the why of the click

Pablo Boczkowski   Fake news and the future of journalism

Carrie Brown-Smith   We won’t do enough

Samantha Barry   Messaging apps go mainstream

Doris Truong   Connecting with diverse perspectives

Peter Sterne   A dangerous anti-press mix

Andrew Losowsky   Building our own communities

Tim Griggs   The year we stop taking sides

Scott Dodd   Nonprofits team up for impact

Ken Schwencke   Disaggregation and collection

Julia Beizer   Building a coherent core identity

Gabriel Snyder   The aberration of 20th-century journalism

Jonathan Hunt   Measurement companies get with the times

Tanya Cordrey   The resurgence of reach

Bill Adair   The year of the fact-checking bot

Michael Kuntz   Trust is the new click

Zizi Papacharissi   Distracted journalism looks in the mirror

Libby Bawcombe   Kids board the podcast train

Ariane Bernard   Better data about your users

Burt Herman   Local news gets interesting

Mario García   Virtual reality on mobile leaps forward

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

Andrew Haeg   The year of listening

Claire Wardle   Verification takes center stage

Mary Walter-Brown   Getting comfortable asking for money

Steve Henn   The next revolution is voice

Liz McMillen   The year of deep insights

Umbreen Bhatti   A sense of journalists’ humanity

Jonathan Stray   A boom in responsible conservative media

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

Juliette De Maeyer and Dominique Trudel   A rebirth of populist journalism

Vivian Schiller   Tested like never before

Erin Pettigrew   A year of reflection in tech

Melody Kramer   Radically rethinking design

Bill Keller   A healthy skepticism about data

Michael Oreskes   Reversing the erosion of democracy

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

Priya Ganapati   Mobile websites are ready for reinvention

Ryan McCarthy   Platforms grow up or grow more toxic

Carla Zanoni   Prioritizing emotional health

Adam Thomas   The coming collaboration across Europe

Dhiya Kuriakose   The year of digital detoxing

Cindy Royal   Preparing the digital educator-scholar hybrid

Cory Haik   Navigating power in Trump’s America

Geetika Rudra   Journalism is community

Kathleen Kingsbury   Print as a premium offering

Liz Danzico   The triumph of the small

Laura E. Davis   Show your work

Margarita Noriega   From pinning tweets to tweeting pins

Sam Ford   The year we talk about our awful metrics

Alexis Lloyd   Public trust for private realities

Asma Khalid   The year of the newsy podcast

Helen Havlak   Chasing mobile search results

Mathew Ingram   The Faustian Facebook dance continues

An Xiao Mina   2017 is for the attention innovators

Emi Kolawole   From empathy to community

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

Tim Herrera   The safe space of service journalism

Amy O'Leary   Not just covering communities, reaching them

Nathalie Malinarich   Making it easy

Megan H. Chan   Cultural reporting goes mainstream

Coleen O'Lear   Back to basics

Lee Glendinning   A call for great editing

Elizabeth Jensen   Trust depends on the details

Jon Slade   Trusted news, at a premium

Mary Meehan   Feeling blue in a red state

David Chavern   Fake news gets solved

Moreno Cruz Osório   The year of transparency in Brazilian journalism

Corey Ford   The year of the rebelpreneur

Robert Hernandez   History will exclude you, again

Caitlin Thompson   High touch, high value

Ståle Grut   The battle for high-quality VR

Taylor Lorenz   “Selfie journalism” becomes a thing

Ole Reißmann   Un-faking the news

Olivia Ma   The year collaboration beats competition

Kawandeep Virdee   Moving deeper than the machine of clicks

Jim Friedlich   A banner year for venture philanthropy

Rebekah Monson   Journalism is community-as-a-service

Aja Bogdanoff   Comments start pulling their weight

Ray Soto   VR moves from experiments to immersion

Mark Armstrong   Time to pay up

Dannagal G. Young   The return of the gatekeepers

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

M. Scott Havens   Quality advertising to pair with quality content

Andrea Silenzi   Podcasts dive into breaking news analysis

David Weigel   A test for online speech

Sydette Harry   Facing journalism’s history

Laura Walker   Authentic voices, not fake news

S.P. Sullivan   Baking transparency into our routines

Jeremy Barr   A terrible year for Tiers B through D

Keren Goldshlager   Defining a focus, and then saying no

Emily Goligoski   Incorporating audience feedback at scale

Renée Kaplan   Pure reach has reached its limit

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Truthiness in private spaces

Trushar Barot   API or die

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

Javaun Moradi   What can we own?

P. Kim Bui   The year journalism teaches again

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

Mike Ragsdale   A smarter information diet

Andrew Ramsammy   Rise of the rebel journalist

Sarah Wolozin   Virtual reality on the open web

Almar Latour   Thanks, #fakenews

Swati Sharma   Failing diversity is failing journalism

Nicholas Quah   Podcasting’s coming class war

Matt Karolian   AI improves publishing

Mira Lowe   News literacy, bias, and “Hamilton”

Francesco Marconi   The year of augmented writing

Rubina Madan Fillion   Snapchat grows up

Rachel Sklar   Women are going to get loud

Matt Waite   The people running the media are the problem

Sara M. Watson   There is no neutral interface

Annemarie Dooling   UGC as a path out of the bubble

Mandy Velez   The audience is the source and the story

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting stratifies into hard layers

Rachel Schallom   Stop flying over the flyover states

Juan Luis Sánchez   Your predictions are our present

Amy Webb   Journalism as a service

Dan Gillmor   Fix the demand side of news too

Alice Antheaume   A new test for French media

Hillary Frey   Forests need to burn to regrow

David Skok   What lies beyond paywalls

Felix Salmon   Headlines matter

Reyhan Harmanci   Bear witness — but then what?

Dan Colarusso   Let’s make live video we can love

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

Molly de Aguiar   Philanthropists galvanize around news

Christopher Meighan   Unlocking a deeper mobile experience

Guy Raz   Inspiration and hope will matter more than ever

Errin Haines   Chaos or community?

Tracie Powell   Building reader relationships

Sue Schardt   Objectivity, fairness, balance, and love

Ashley C. Woods   Local journalism will fight a new fight

Erin Millar   The bottom falls out of Canadian media

Alberto Cairo   Communicating uncertainty to our readers

Amie Ferris-Rotman   Вслед за Россией

Millie Tran   International expansion without colonial overtones

Katie Zhu   The year of minority media

Andy Rossback   The year of the user

Joanne Lipman   The year of the drone, really