Introducing Ping and Echo

Ping and Echo is a daily newsletter that delivers podcasts kids and grown-ups will love to listen to together, and gives you everything you need to turn an episode into an adventure.

Josh Stearns
4 min readMar 22, 2020

In 2016 I was commuting back and forth between Massachusetts and New Jersey and I was listening to a lot of podcasts. Over and over again I heard terrific stories that I wanted to share with my kids, stories that launched me on explorations of new topics and stories that made me want to build, experiment, and create. Back then I began imagining a short newsletter that would share one great podcast episode for parents and kids to listen to, paired with links to activities and articles for families to explore together. Ever since then I’ve been collecting episodes for a newsletter that didn’t exist.

This month, as schools and businesses started closing and we all began to adapt to self-quarantines and social distancing I realized the time was right to launch this project.

Today I’m launching Ping and Echo. Subscribe here.

Ping and Echo is a daily newsletter that links to one amazing podcast episode that is guaranteed to be a great listen for kids and their families. These are not kids’ podcasts per se, but rather, they are episodes of great podcasts like 99% Invisible, Mystery Show, the Memory Palace, Gravy, Radiolab, Snap Judgement, Song Exploder, and others that also happen to be perfect for sharing with curious kids. Each edition of the newsletter also includes links to fun activities, background reading, and videos related to the topic of the podcast.

Ping and Echo delivers podcasts that kids and grown-ups will love to listen to together, and gives you everything you need to turn an episode into an adventure. Subscribe here.

The name Ping and Echo comes from sonar technology which relies on sending out “pings” and receiving back “echos” to discover the world around you. Similarly, I envision this project as a two way dialogue that together can help all of us make sense of the world we live in. Every day I’ll send out a “ping” via this newsletter and I hope to receive “echos” back from subscribers. Parents can send in pictures of creations inspired by the podcasts I share, send art created by kids, or send in other podcasts they love. I’ll be posting all these pings and echos on the project’s Twitter page.

Social distancing with tin can telephones

Like many of you, I’m working from home and my kids are home with me until schools reopen. While I’m writing the newsletter, my kids are serving as editors and producers, helping me research topics, source links and choose podcasts to share. We listen together and talk about the themes in each episode. If anything in an episode worries them, we note it in the newsletter too so parents will have a heads up about sensitive content, language, and topics.

I have a list of about 30 episodes that are in the queue for inclusion in Ping and Echo, but I’m actively looking for more. If you are a podcast producer or host who is making great episodes I should consider — or if you are just an avid podcast listener who hears something great — please send a link to us. You can find our email on the About page here.

Every podcast episode I link to will feature compelling stories, great lessons, and important themes. That will be paired with hands-on activities for kids of various ages that revolve around the themes in the podcast. But I promise to keep the newsletter short.

If you love podcasts and want to turn a bit of audio into a big adventure, Ping and Echo is for you.

Click that monster subscribe button above to join the fun.

Ping and Echo is written by me, Josh Stearns, with editorial support from my kids Toby and Ruby. I always thought I’d grow up to be a teacher until my life went in another direction. I worked for years as a camp counselor and camp director, and have written about parenting for more than a decade, including for BuzzFeed. In 2013 my wife and I wrote a parenting themed cover version of Lorde’s “We Will Never Be Royals” called “We Will Never Be Rested.”



Josh Stearns

Senior Director, Public Square Program at the Democracy Fund. Journalism and democracy of, by and for the people. Formerly: @grdodge @freepress