WHYY releases new kids-focused podcast, and other news in podcasting

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WHYY in Philadelphia is answering the call for more podcasts produced for kids.

The Radio Adventures of Eleanor Amplified, a new 10-episode fictional podcast series, tells stories of a journalist “as she foils dastardly plots, outwits crafty villains and goes after ‘The Big Story,’” according to a press release. “Eleanor’s pursuit of truth takes her into orbit, out to sea, through a scary jungle and even to the halls of Congress,” according to the press release.

The station hopes to reach children ages 8–12 with the podcast. Fresh Air producer John Sheehan created the show, which won an internal competition among potential podcasts vying to enter production.

“Saturday morning cartoons were my direct inspiration,” Sheehan said in the release. “I wanted to create a world-famous character like Indiana Jones who travels the world on adventures.”

Compared to TV, public radio is thin on kid-focused content. Writing for Poynter, Melody Kramer pulled together a list of kids-focused public radio content and found only 18 programs, including Eleanor Amplified.

Another podcast that emerged from WHYY’s competition, The Playground, focuses on “how and why we engage in physical activity in its many forms,” according to a station spokesperson. It will launch in a few months.

Radiotopia narrows field for Podquest

PRX’s Radiotopia has unveiled four finalists in its Podquest contest, which is looking for a new podcast to add to the network.

The finalists are:

  • Ear Hustle, which tells stories of life inside a prison;
  • Meat, a podcast from a Rome-based producer “about our bodies and the lives we live because of them”;
  • The Difference Between, which looks into “‘the world of ‘information doppelgängers’ — the stuff you always confuse for that other thing — to find out what makes them truly unique”; and
  • Villain-ish,“about gaining new perspectives on dubious figures we’ve been taught to revile.”

“The range of ideas and talent represented by the [finalists] kind of blows my mind, and showcases exactly what we were seeking through Podquest — new voices and ideas not yet represented in Radiotopia,” said Julie Shapiro, executive producer of Radiotopia, in a blog post.

Each winner receives $10,000 and support to produce three pilot episodes. The finalists will work on the pilots until September, and Radiotopia will choose at least one to add to its offerings.

The network received over 1,500 submissions for the contest, covering a huge variety of topics. It had planned to pick just three finalists from 10 semifinalists but decided on four because of the quality of the entries, according to a spokesperson.

WFMT poetry show goes weekly

PoetryNow, a radio show and podcast from Chicago’s WFMT Radio Network and the Poetry Foundation, started as a weekly program Tuesday.

The 4-minute episodes highlight a poet reading an unpublished poem, followed by discussion of the work. Readers in the new season will include Pulitzer Prize nominee Cornelius Eddy and Philadelphia poet laureate Yolanda Wisher.

The show debuted last year with a 26-episode run. It will air on radio on WFMT, WBEZ in Chicago, KALW in San Francisco and Radio New Zealand.

APM adds podcast

American Public Media will release in November a new podcast, Terrible, Thanks for Asking.

Host Nora McInerny Purmont is author of the book It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying Is Cool Too) and the blog My Husband’s Tumor.

As APM describes the podcast, “[T]his is a funny/sad/uncomfortable podcast about talking honestly about our pain, our awkwardness, and our humanness, which is not an actual word. It’s not (just) about death, and it’s not about Nora. It’s about all of those things that happen in a life, and how we get through them, even when life just keeps kicking us in the privates over and over.”