A recent article in The Times theorized that if English philosopher, political economist and civil servant John Stuart Mill were around today, “his father would have dosed him not with Thucydides and Plato, but with podcasts.”1 Why? Because while the rest of the internet entertains with cat videos and fake news, the podcast is “unashamedly, almost brazenly intelligent.”
And Americans can’t get enough! Since 2008, the number of people who listen to podcasts doubled to more than 89 million.2
I wish I could claim to have known these facts when I set out to create a podcast for NICU families, but it honestly took a hard bump on my head to make me see the light.
In November of 2015, I was diagnosed with a concussion after being struck in the head by a killer hit at my daughter’s volleyball practice. Unable to work, cook, drive, read or exercise, I quickly grew weary of resting in a dark room. A friend suggested I listen to a podcast for entertainment. I began with the fiercely popular program, “Serial” and then slowly worked my way through dozens of genres including American History, comedy, news and politics.
The lightbulb finally went on, literally and physically.
When I heard an episode of the popular podcast Radiolab featuring journalists Tom and Kelley French titled “23 Weeks and Six Days,” chronicling the couple’s harrowing account of fighting for the life of their preterm baby, I sat up on the couch and fumbled with the lamp. I had to write down my idea before it flitted from my recovering brain.
“Create podcast exclusively for NICU families!”
Within days the Hand to Hold staff began to research podcasting, brainstorm topics and contact potential guests. Months later we launched a tremendously successful online fundraising campaign and eagerly purchased our podcasting equipment and hired a producer. And NICU Now slowly began to take shape!
Capitalizing on the proliferation of smart phone use and the continued growth in podcasting, we are confident a support-based podcast will help NICU families overcome many physical and emotional barriers they face accessing and receiving support. Parents can listen as they commute to and from the hospital, as well as at their baby’s bedside. Episodes will also be available in Spanish.
Podcast is really just a geeky name for radio programs that can be downloaded digitally, giving the listener the opportunity to search thousands of topics and listen when it is convenient for their schedule. Hand to Hold’s NICU Now Audio Support Series is unlike any other podcast, because it features important topics such as identifying and understanding perinatal mood disorders common in NICU families, the importance of reading to your NICU baby and preparing to take home a medically fragile child.
Episodes also include emotional interviews with guests including Tom and Kelley French, authors of Juniper, the Girl Who Was Born Too Soon, and bereaved mom Melissa Hinnant, founder of Grace and Lace, whose lacy boot socks won the support of investor Barbara Ann Corcoran on TV’s Shark Tank. In the NICU Now episode “Life Transformations after a NICU Stay or Loss,” Melissa shares about the loss of her daughter and how the experience crocheting for her baby while on bedrest ultimately led to her multimillion dollar women’s apparel company.
Podcasts are produced by big hitters such as the BBC and American broadcasters such as NPR and WNYC. However, many, including NICU Now, are made by enthusiasts in spare bedrooms, garages and closets.
If you are new to podcasting but want to listen to NICU Now, it’s easy. Just go to handtohold.org/nicunow and listen directly from your computer. Or, if you have an iPhone, open the purple podcasts app, search for NICU Now, press play and away you go. NICU Now is also available on Android phones through the app, Stitcher.
Upon finalizing the NICU Now Audio Support Series, Hand to Hold will launch NICU Heroes, a podcast specifically for NICU professionals. Also on the horizon is our much anticipated series, NICU and Beyond, featuring stories of inspiration and hope about NICU graduates and their families, the medical professionals who care for them and the life transformations that often occur after a harrowing NICU stay.
Hand to Hold is proud to be breaking ground on new ways to provide mental health and emotional support. Special thanks to Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, Prolacta Bioscience, Huggies and the hundreds of individual donors who are helping Hand to Hold ensure that every NICU and bereaved parent who needs support can simply plug in their earbuds and push play.
Thanks for listening,
1 Nixey, Catherine. “The Year of the Podcast: What Everyone’s Listening to.” Saturday Review | The Times & The Sunday Times. N.p., 14 Jan. 2017. Web. 31 Jan. 2017.
2 “Podcasting Stats – Lots and Lots of Podcasting Stats.” School of Podcasting – Learn “How To Podcast” with Podcast Coach Dave Jackson. N.p., 07 Mar. 2015. Web. 31 Jan. 2017.