Producing a podcast might not be the first activity that comes to mind when you’re cooped up with the kids this winter, but it shouldn’t be the last. Take it from First Hill dad Abraham Suastez (aka Papa Abe). Over the past five years that Suastez has been podcasting with his three homeschooled daughters, the kids have had the opportunity to interview professional athletes, local artists and civic leaders, all while building confidence and learning life skills.
“It can be overwhelming to have people watching you speak or ‘perform,’ but the girls have learned that they can be themselves without worrying what people think about them,” says Suastez.
Inspired by the “Create a Podcast” chapter of Mark Frauenfelder’s book "Maker Dad," Suastez and his eldest daughter, Ellie, now 9, began podcasting in 2014 under the name “Ellie’s Podcast 11.” When her sister Carly, 7, joined in on the action, they updated the name to “The Adventuring Sisters Podcast.” Now even the youngest, 4-year-old Jo, chimes in on special episodes. The sisters have interviewed everyone from Steve Zakuani (Seattle Sounders) to Elisa Barton (Seattle Symphony) to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan.
PHOTO: JOSHUA HUSTON
“I was really nervous at first,” says Ellie. “But now when I make mistakes it helps me loosen up a bit. Now I’m less nervous and more just having fun.”
Whether your kids want to broadcast their show to millions of listeners or just Grandma, it doesn’t take too much to get started, says Suastez. All you need is a voice recorder (such as the voice memo app on a smartphone) and a computer with an audio-editing program. Try the Garageband program available on Mac computers or Audacity for PCs, which you can download free from the internet. If you want to get fancy, The Blue Snowball is a $50 USB microphone that’s a great quality for beginners. Create the conditions for a quality podcast by recording in a carpeted room with drapes, or if you have a laptop, in the back seat of your car. Cars are designed to be acoustically quiet.
The Suastez family has three criteria for choosing an interview guest: Someone who is following their dreams or going out and pursuing their passion; someone with an interesting job; or someone who is doing something positive in the community. The kids conduct online research and prepare a list of questions.
“They have learned that they can speak up about what is important to them, and that their voice and what they are learning matters,” says Suastez. The hard work paid off. In 2017, they were voted Best Podcast in Western Washington in a KING 5 "Evening Magazine" viewer poll. The podcast doesn’t make money, but they are actively seeking sponsorship.