Report – Podcasts – The New Big Thing?
- Podcasts are on the rise. They can offer entertainment, escapism and learning and can really enrich the lives of young listeners.
- Technology such as smart speakers and the new Google podcast app offer exciting opportunities in audio content creation.
- It is important to create and uphold top quality content and high production values.
“Podcasts are becoming a big deal”, opened Bex Lindsay from Fun Kids Live, the host for this session.
Why are podcasts so important?
Johnny Leagas, Executive Producer from CBeebies Radio, highlighted that podcasts are on the rise and said that this generation are taking content with them on the go. CBeebies Radio podcasts allow the audience to listen, download and take away. He said that producing audio content is “creating listening soundtracks to young people’s lives”.
Author and Emotional and Behavioural Psychologist Andrea Chatten said that podcasts are important as “listening is good for the brain; it activates imagination”. She also said that podcasts can help children to sleep and listening presents a great alternative to reading before bed. She also believes that listening to podcasts can promote positive mental health.
Clare Chadburn from Wisebuddah discussed how escapism, self-improvement and learning are all linked with podcasts. Anne McNaught from BBC Scotland also discussed education, as she creates podcasts for a school audience. She explained how the content produced is usually played from speakers to entire classrooms of children and said that in her experience, children love the stories being told in this way as it “allows their imaginations to fill in the colour”.
Stephen Scott from Bigmouth Audio also added that this medium gives each listener the opportunity “to create worlds and images in their head”.
What is your target age group/focus?
Serving the youngest listeners, Johnny explained how CBeebies Radio produces content for 0-6 year olds. He explained how the schedule reflects children’s different development needs through a variety of content. We listened to a showreel containing clips from CBeebies Radio series: Go Jetters Radio Recruits, Clangers, iSpy Sound Detective and Sporting Superstars, to name but a few. Working for a dual-audience of child and parent/guardian allows CBeebies Radio to also tackle challenging subject matters and spark conversations. Two such series were the recent Autism Week and Refugee Stories. The key thing is “keeping little ears and minds entertained through top quality content and high production values”.
Anne focussed upon educational school content such as new podcast Sonic Snackbox and explained how listening skills are considered very important within the Scottish curriculum. She also referenced tackling challenging topics to provoke conversation, for example the commission which sought to depict parental separation, as seen through the eyes of a child.
Stephen explained how Bigmouth Audio’s Zombieville series is like an audio cartoon aimed at 9-12 year olds. The idea was developed with the help of an advisor and useful feedback from members of the industry. He said the trick was making sure characters, dialogue and music all played a part in moving the story along. In a similarly older/teen audience sphere, Clare discussed Niki and Sammy’s Peachy Podcast, which Wisebuddah produce for BBC Radio 1. This involves discussion around internet trends and sub-cultures and features exciting young guests such as music artists and YouTubers.
How does the future look?
Sandeep Jain from Leela Labs Inc, who unfortunately could not join the panel, was due to make reference to smart speakers from the likes of Amazon and Google and the impact technology is having upon the way we consume audio content. Whilst technology is certainly changing and rapidly gaining new and increasingly interactive features, there are concerns around associated safety.
Clare explained that over the coming years there will be more places to find podcasts and made particular reference to the new Google podcasts app. She said this move towards audio-native content populating Google searches will revolutionise the way people interact and remove barriers from discovering content.
The panel agreed that going forwards creating quality content is key. Johnny said he is “passionate about giving children a voice” and it seems that the future for podcasts is bright. They present the opportunity to give a child a personal, entertaining and potentially educationally enriching experience, whilst giving content makers a lot of creative freedom.
Head of Development
Children's Emotional & Behavioural Psychologist
Leela Labs Inc.
Founder & CEO
Independent Radio Producer/Media Composer
Genre Lead, BBC Children’s Animation & Puppetry