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WBUR Celebrates 100 Episodes Of The Children’s Storytelling Podcast, Circle Round

(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)
(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)

WBUR, Boston's NPR news station, will mark the 100th episode of the popular children’s storytelling podcast Circle Round on May 26. Produced by WBUR, in collaboration with Sheir & Shim LLC partners Rebecca Sheir (writer/host) and Eric Shimelonis (composer/sound designer), Circle Round adapts folktales from around the world into action-packed radio plays that explore important issues like kindness, persistence and generosity. Each 15 to 25-minute episode features original music and sound design, plus notable voices from the stage and screen like "Seinfeld’s" Jason Alexander, Tony and Emmy winner Billy Porter, and "The Simpsons’" Yeardley Smith.

Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb will headline the podcast’s milestone 100th episode and the season-three finale: a retelling of a Mexican folktale that explores the true meaning of goodness, virtue and honor. As with all Circle Round episodes, “The Noblest Tale” will be accompanied by a coloring page from illustrator Sabina Hahn and will conclude with an activity that inspires a deeper conversation between children and grown-ups.

Over three seasons, Circle Round has grown to receive more than 1-million monthly downloads in nearly 200 countries, and has earned such honors as a Parents' Choice Gold Award, a Webby nomination and featured spots at the UK International Radio Drama Festival and HEAR Now Festival. Circle Round has received a major grant from the Henry Luce Foundation and has recorded live, star-studded performances of the podcast with the Grammy-winning Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood Music Center.

In celebrating 100 episodes of Circle Round, the following are the top-downloaded five episodes since the podcast launched in 2017:

  • The Enchanted Paintbrush: Phillipa Soo ("Hamilton", "The Code") and Stacy Keach ("Man With a Plan", "American Greed") headline this Chinese tale about a kind, humble artist whose paintings come to life.
  • The Fire On The Other Side Of The World: In this Cherokee story, Yeardley Smith ("The Simpsons") plays a feisty and creative spider who proves that power and strength aren't always about physical size.
  • Kangaroo and Joey Too: Recorded live at Tanglewood Music Center with musicians from the Boston Symphony Orchestra, this Aboriginal story from Australia stars Jane Kaczmarek ("Malcolm in the Middle"), Campbell Scott ("House of Cards", Singles), Lauren Ambrose ("My Fair Lady" on Broadway, Six Feet Under) and Thomas Sadoski ("Life in Pieces", "The Newsroom") and imagines how the kangaroo first got her indispensable pouch.
  • The Chattering Clams: Mindy Thomas and Guy Raz — hosts of NPR's science podcast, Wow! In The World — star in this whimsical Native American tale about the dangers of gossip. (Note: Wow! will play this story in its feed in early November.)
  • The Very Busy Fairies: In this zany Celtic tale, when fairies come to help Parker Bates ("This Is Us") with his chores, he discovers they're far more trouble than they're worth.

To listen to Circle Round and learn even more, please visit https://www.wbur.org/circleround

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