For quite some time now, the small screen has been a highly coveted destination for mobile-based children’s properties. And with their rich, character-driven storylines, it only seems natural for podcasts to follow suit, yet few of the children’s variety have shown an interest in TV land.
That stands to change, thanks to L.A.-based Wonkybot Studios—the production, music and publishing company formed last year by kids industry vets Stewart St John, Todd Fisher and Michael Plahuta—which is adapting its free superhero musical podcast The Secret Diaries of Tara Tremendous into an animated TV series.
Aimed at kids ages four to eight, the podcast currently attracts 50,000 downloads per day on iTunes. Launched in February and capped off with a season finale in April. The series’ second season is set to debut on iTunes on August 2, coinciding with the launch of the brand’s first musical album and a middle-grade book franchise, both of which have been developed by Wonkybot.
“Todd Fisher and I make content for emerging platforms, so we wanted to explore the podcast medium, complete with an original score, sound effects and a music dialog. But in the background, we always wanted to do TV,” says Wonkybot CEO St John, who writes and directs each podcast episode, composes the original songs, and voices the character Dr. Epic.
In making that happen, Wonkybot partnered with John Rogers (creator of The Librarians, The Player and Jackie Chan Adventures) and Jenn Court of Kung Fu Monkey Productions to develop the TV series, which will continue telling the story of the podcast’s titular character—a bubbly and brave eight-year-old girl who is accidentally infused with the powers of every superhero in the world.
“We have voices, sound effects and music already developed from the podcast that we are bringing into show. The creation approach is so similar, excluding interactivity when it comes to TV,” says St John. “Animation let kids visually see the characters they’ve been hearing.”
The series is currently in development and expected to be complete by mid-2017. Wonkybot is in talks with potential broadcasters, yet nothing has been finalized.
“To my knowledge, this is the first children’s podcast being brought into television. We see podcasts as a really exciting medium to tell stories,” says St John, adding that the podcast is free of advertising. “We wanted to create something for kids as an audience-builder, and to gain parental trust.”