Little Bird and Jesus take flight!
The new St. Paul children’s podcast, created by Pastor Sara Olson-Smith, spread its wings and flew into homes as the first episode launched in December. Since then, Little Bird has made her way around the country with listeners stretching from the Quad Cities to Chicago, Denver, Kansas City, and even abroad.
Every Monday, kids bring their imaginations on a journey with Little Bird, a small but brave sparrow who befriends Jesus. While listening to podcasts with her kids, Pastor Sara Olson-Smith came up with the idea of a Bible podcast for kids.
“I love telling stories, and I love telling stories to kids. Those stories teach us who God is, and remind us who we are and how we get to live in the world. Podcasts create a wonderful way to tell these stories in playful and accessible ways,” Sara said. “As for the Little Bird? Jesus talked about birds almost as much as he talked about sheep. A little sparrow, simple and ordinary, is a perfect companion for our Savior who cares a great deal for those people and things that are often ignored or overlooked.”
Bill Campbell composed the theme music heard each week within the podcast. He is the director of contemporary music at St. Paul, a professor of music at St. Ambrose University, and an award-winning composer of music for all genres and multiple mediums.
“When you’re creating the music for a film or media, you’re trying to help the narrative move forward through sound and emotion. It can be environmental – the setting of the scene,” Bill said. “As a composer, you’re working on the narrative arc, the story’s full progression from beginning to end. It’s much like accompanying a singer but I’m accompanying what’s going on in the story of the podcast.”
Bill has worked on several soundtracks, mostly for documentaries. He’s relatively new to the podcasting world, but much of the process is the same.
“When I was coming up with the music for Little Bird, I thought the music would catch the right kind of vibe and feeling to bring people in. The audience is children and the parents of children. You must know the audience, what the story is that you’re trying to tell, and how you want people to feel at that moment. If you can express that through music, then you’ve got something. When I’m at the piano working things out, I feel like a sculptor. I start creating, chipping away, and certain things start to appear, to be seen and heard in the space, and then the form starts taking shape.”
And in the true collaborative spirit, a whole team of people have made Little Bird come to life. Pastor Megan Eide serves as the story editor, utilizing her background in communications and children’s literature to make the story just right for the littlest of listeners.
“Not only is Little Bird sweet and creative, but it uses a popular platform that kids and adults can enjoy together. I read the script aloud and focus on hearing the story and visualizing the characters. I look for verbs or adjectives that can be more audible/visual. Instead of ‘Mary said’ we’ll try ‘Mary cried, sang, stuttered,” Megan said. “As Sara adapts the biblical story into the children’s podcast, she stays true to the text while also playing imaginatively with the “gaps.” The Luke writer never said there wasn’t a Little Bird rejoicing along with Mary and Elizabeth! These playful, imaginative gaps are where we invite children’s minds to enter in and participate in the wonders and mystery of God.”
Many of the little listeners also participate, lending their voices to the introduction of the episode, fun responses throughout the story, and closing out the episode at the end.
And each week, the story wraps up with questions for listeners to reflect on, ideas to spark creativity, and valuable skills to practice like bravery, supporting each other, empathy, and many more.
Where to listen:
Little Bird Podcast: New episodes premiere every Monday. Listen to the journey of Little Bird wherever you find podcasts, on the St. Paul website at stpaulqc.org/children, and social media.
St. Paul Worship Podcast: Every Thursday at 1:30 p.m., tune into the St. Paul podcast to hear music, a reflection, and sermon from the previous weekend, plus a prayer and blessing to carry you through the end of your week. Listen wherever you find your podcasts, on the St. Paul website at stpaulqc.org/worship, and social media.
Radio: Catch the weekly St. Paul broadcast at 8:30 a.m. every Sunday at WOC1420 or online at iheartmedia.com. St. Paul’s radio ministry is funded through special gifts and money
designated for the Memorial Gifts Fund.