Stewart St. John’s sound idea leads to Wonkybot channel

Rick's Reviews

Stewart St. John has always been ahead of the entertainment curve. At the same time he was working in traditional television as a writer for programs ranging from “The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers” to “Sabrina: The Animated Series” he was creating programming for the Internet.

That doesn’t seem that bold now but St. John created the web series, “The Spot,” that followed the lives of seven people living in a house in Santa Monica, almost two decades ago. The streaming boom was years away.

His embrace of new areas of entertainment continues with Wonkybot Studios that he launched in 2015 with Todd Fisher and Michael Plahuta. The award-winning content company creates scripted audio shows for kids and families.

Now, the Wonkybot programming is available through a new subscription channel exclusively on Apple Podcasts with the debut of Apple Podcasts Subscriptions. This is a new, global platform that empowers audio creators to offer premium subscriptions directly to listeners on Apple Podcasts in more than 170 countries and regions.

St. John says in a press release, “We’re thrilled to bring our entire network of award-winning, high quality, cinematic audio series exclusively to Apple Podcasts as this next exciting chapter of podcasting begins.”

The new Wonkybot channel launched with the season premiere of the company’s award-winning superhero adventure series for kids, “Tara Tremendous.” The series – which won the Parents’ Choice 2020 Gold Award for Best Podcast – looks at what happens when 14-year-old Tara Callahan accidentally acquires the powers of all superheroes.

The 30 voice actors in the production include Sarah Douglas who is best known for her work in “Superman I” and “Superman II” plus Hannah Monson from Netflix’ “Glitch” and Deborah Kennedy from “A Place To Call Home.”

St. John is no stranger to introducing very popular superhero characters. While he was working on the “Power Rangers” TV show, St. John introduced the Green Ranger.

The Wonkybot channel also will include the supernatural “Spooky Troop.”

New to the channel is “Following Bliss,” a program that centers on a 5-year-old fairy named Bliss who travels around the world learning about geography, different cultures and collecting sounds with her magic wand that she uses during a quiet-time meditation segment.  

Todd Fisher explains that while the Wonkybot action-adventure shows are geared at tweens, teens and young adults, “Following Bliss” reflects the company’s commitment to creating screen-free content that uplifts and inspires younger kids.

The narrated series “The Owlsteins Rhyme Time” is also a new offering from Wonkybot. It is based on the characters from the company’s narrated rhyming audio series “Owlsteins.” The show centers around a good-natured family of owls who share love, positivity and togetherness.

Other shows rolling out over the summer and throughout the year on the new Wonkybot Channel include sci-fi, time-traveling adventure series “Historynauts,” teen horror series “Tales of Treacherous Things”  and the “Tara Tremendous” spin-offs “Tremendous Boy,” “Tremendous Girl” and “Priscilla The Witch.”

The Wonkybot channel also updates regularly with bonus material and music from Wonkybot shows, composed by St. John and Plahuta.

An album of songs inspired by “Tara Tremendous” and “Spooky Troop” will also be available this summer on Apple Music as well as to subscribers to the Wonkybot Channel.

All of this original programming is possible because of the way Wonkybot works.

St. John says, “Whereas other podcast companies have to outsource or license original content from third-parties or hire a recording studio to assemble their shows, Wonkybot is unique in that we create, write, cast, record, edit, produce, score, mix and master all of our shows in-house.

“We’re a one-stop shop which gives us a unique advantage in making sure we’re producing the most cutting-edge, highest-quality, cinema-sounding podcasts available to kids and families.”

Fisher stresses that it is St. John’s ability to work fluidly between mediums that has been a major plus for Wonkybot.

He adds, “In the same way he was able to adapt the Tara Tremendous podcast into a musical feature film currently being developed by Wonkybot and Marc Platt Productions, he has an incredible knack for quickly identifying the heart of a story and reassembling it for whatever medium is called for. His passion for audio and music certainly pays off in the audio content we produce.”

The Wonkybot Channel is available for $3.99 per month. Apple Podcasts Subscriptions launched in May as a global marketplace for listeners to discover premium subscriptions offered by their favorite creators alongside millions of free shows on Apple Podcasts. Along with Wonkbot, listeners can enjoy premium subscriptions from Tenderfoot TV, Pushkin Industries, Radiotopia, NPR, the Los Angeles Times, The Athletic and Sony Music Entertainment.

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