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New NPR Podcast Has Fun For Kids & Parents - Away From Screens

Guy Raz and Mindy Thomas are the voices - and writers - behind the new NPR podcast for kids.
Guy Raz and Mindy Thomas are the voices - and writers - behind the new NPR podcast for kids.

WFAE's David Boraks interviews Guy Raz and Mindy Thomas of NPR's "Wow in the World" podcast.

There's a new podcast out from NPR, something the network has never done before - a children's program. It's called "Wow in the World" and it targets elementary school kids - and their parents.  

Guy Raz and Mindy Thomas are the voices and writers behind "Wow in the World" - so named because it focuses on science, technology, and discovery. Raz says it’s the science behind the world around us - like looking up at the stars at night. 

“But how many of us stop and think that we're looking at the past in real time, that the light that reaches us happened, you know, a thousand years ago, you know, stars that we can see with the naked eye. And children are so receptive to that wonder. And I think their grownups are, too, " he says. 

Raz also hosts the "Ted Radio Hour" and "How I Built This" - two of NPR's most popular podcasts. Thomas hosts children's programs on Sirius XM Radio. 

Thomas says the show targets elementary school kids ages about 5 to 12 – but not just the kids. 

“We hope this will be something for families to listen to together, and to connect and engage with each other, in a way that they're sharing something, as opposed to, you know, the parents are doing one thing on their phone and the kids are in the backseat playing a video game on their tablets,” she says. 

And they take it a step further, Thomas says - posting "conversation starters" on the podcast website to keep the conversation going. 


The 20 to 25-minute episodes are fast-paced and filled with music and sound effects, for scenes like a trip into space, a rollercoaster ride or a lab experiment to figure out why shoes come untied. 

That was the topic in a recent episode, where Raz describes a scientist jogging around the lab. 

“So their colleague is running in circles around the science lab and the engineers are cheering her on and staring at her shoelaces?” Mindy asks. 

There’s the sound of a cheering crowd, and Raz replies: “Well, basically yeah, but they also used a high-speed camera.”


There's an ulterior motive behind all the fun, says Raz. 

“We all struggle with how much screen time to allow our children to have. And the reality is that radio, audio, which many people think of as an old-fashioned medium, is actually, I think, the future,” Raz says. “We're at the tip of the spear in sort of the post-screen age.” 

Raz says the show draws ideas from the show from the latest scientific research papers, then turn it into a fun-filled podcast. "We basically take academic papers from journal articles and we translate them for children," Raz says.  

The show is smart and silly - Thomas says it's something you might listen to in the car on a trip - or just the morning ride to school.

“Wow in the World” episodes come out Mondays. Find out more at NPR.org, under podcasts.  Or visit the website, wowintheworld.com

David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.