When a podcast host has a voice that soothes you from the start, you know you’re in the right place. Kathleen Pelley, host of the Journey with Story podcast, is a born storyteller. And best of all, she tells her stories with a distinctive Celtic flair.
What’s more, her commitment to creating beautifully spun tales is certainly not lost on a fellow writer like me. Every aspect of the show is of high quality, from the stories to the music and sound effects.
Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Kathleen grew up listening to her Irish father’s tales of fairies and leprechauns. Many a summer was spent on her grandparents’ farm in Ireland, where her days were filled with hayrides, milking cows, shearing sheep, and feeding pet lambs. It’s easy to see why her stories have a carefree feel, wherever she transports her listeners.
Before she could read or write, Kathleen found herself glued to BBC’s Children’s Hour. And of course, when she discovered books, she sought out every fairytale she could get her little hands on.
This explains why her podcast stands out from the crowd. Kathleen says, “I just love telling stories. I’ve been enchanted by folktales from the time I was a wee child.”
The former elementary school teacher recalled, “I started writing after I moved to the US with my American husband and two daughters. I was very homesick. I read my original stories to the girls and soon got the courage to start sending them to publishers.” Today, Kathleen has seven published children’s books, and others in the works.
Kathleen had some words of encouragement for fellow authors: “Authors have a head start when they begin their journey into podcasting. For one thing, writers usually love to read, and we know the classics. We also already understand pacing and language and how the combination of these elements can make a story truly enchanting for children.”
This award-winning author pays attention to every ingredient that goes into the making of a great story. The musicality of language is particularly important to her. “I like to use lovely, lyrical language,” she explained.
She added, “I have had a lot of practice reading aloud. For 12 years, I was a narrator of books on tape for the Colorado Talking Book Library. I also read to kids, from kindergarten to eighth grade, at an inner-city Denver school for over 20 years.” For her visits to schools, Kathleen chose books she loves and took note of the timeless tales that never failed to delight the children. She refers to this list when she’s deciding on content for the podcast.
Determined to have her stories bring solace to children in an often “discombobulating” world, Kathleen has a clear structure for the content she delivers. She starts with a question and always ends with what she refers to as a “story souvenir.” She said:
“A story should revolve around what it means to be human. The truth of a story always lingers in your heart. There’s got to be a universal truth just beneath the surface, waiting to be uncovered by the end of the tale. The more universal a story is, the more authentic it feels. I love to share uplifting stories about qualities like bravery, courage, and honesty. Children who are listening might say to themselves, ‘Maybe I can be brave, too.’ A sense of goodness must be inherent in any story I tell.”
Kathleen clearly puts a lot of thought into the selection of stories for the podcast. “I deliberately choose folktales from places across the globe. I really love the idea of exposing children to cultures around the world.” She added, “Stories have an incredible ability to heal children and make them feel safer and better in an uncertain world.”
She’s happy she took the plunge into podcasting after one of her daughters suggested it would be a fitting medium for her. “I couldn’t have handled the technology without the help of both of my daughters.”
Soon after she started the show, she realized an amazing momentum developed. “It built on itself. I got the sense that it was about something bigger than me.”
Her advice for new podcasters? “Get the best team behind you that you can afford. It’s worth it. My wonderful audio editor and artist come up with ways of doing things I wouldn’t have thought of. I am constantly delighted with the response to our finished product. It is very touching.”
Of all the steps involved in getting each episode produced, Kathleen’s favorite area comes as no surprise. “I love the creative aspect. Every time I see the power of storytelling at work in someone’s life, it is gratifying. It is an amazing gift to be able to reach people all over the world and be the bright spot in a child’s day.”
This show is sure to charm your entire family. Tune in to the Journey to Story podcast, and prepare to be captivated.
March 2021 Issue