Podcast Review: Short & Curly

Short and Curly logo

Short and Curly logo

In the still-small field of kids podcasting, it doesn't take much to stand out.  Short & Curly stands out in not one but two ways: it's 1) Australian, and 2) about ethics.

Item #1 -- its Down Under nature -- I mention in part because the hosts' accents are a novelty to North American ears, but there's a more significant component as well because the program is produced by ABC.  The Australian Broadcasting Company, that is, and the fact that their national broadcaster has devoted its resources toward producing this podcast for kids serves to highlight, in a small way, how the American and Canadian broadcast systems haven't produced such a program on a national level.

Accents and national differences in the production of radio aside, what makes Short & Curly more interesting is its subject: ethics.  And not just simple questions with obvious answers like, "is stealing bad?," but more complex ones like "Is it ever okay to lie?," "Should chimps have the same rights as kids?," and "Is Dumbledore as great as he seems?"  These are not easy questions to answer, and exactly the sort of thing that ethics is supposed to tackle (well, Aristotle didn't address the last one, but you get my point).

The program is hosted by actress/writer Molly Daniels and reporter Carl Smith -- the two of them have a jokey interaction, often role-playing the ethical question at hand.  Dr. Matt Beard from The Ethics Centre appears in every episode to provide some context and ways to think about the question.  And, of course, there are kids' voices as well, though one of the nifty things about an ethics podcast -- where there aren't necessarily right answers in the way a science podcast might have -- is that rather than the kids asking the questions, they're the ones answering the question, or at least giving their ethical perspective.  And while most of the episodes have thus far followed a fairly uniform structure (question, possible answers, experts), the just-released Season 2 had a little more variety -- the aforementioned Dumbledore-themed episode was structured as a trial.  It's also designed to be interactive, as at least a couple times per show the hosts ask listeners a question and suggest that they pause the podcast to discuss.

The podcast is most appropriate for kids ages 6 through 12.  The iTunes link for the show is here, Soundcloud here.  Episodes are generally about 20 minutes in length and are completely ad-free.  There are a couple "seasons," both released this year, so the 10 episodes (plus trailer) are easily digested.

I really like Short & Curly because it encourages discussion, treats serious issues lightly enough for kids to not be turned off, and is breezily entertaining.  The accents are just a nice little bonus.