Gallatin County Fourth Grader Funds News Podcast By Selling Eggs
When kids were sent home from school last year during the pandemic, 11-year-old Ezra Graham thought it was a good time to start a news podcast.
Chérie Newman You might recognize a recent guest on Graham’s show.
[Bill Kurtis is a television and radio journalist who is currently the scorekeeper for NPR’s Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, the news quiz from National Public Radio. Welcome, Bill. Hi, Ezra. Nice to be with you.]
Newman Graham runs the podcast called News Nerds out of his parents’ house near Gallatin Gateway, which is a few miles from Bozeman.
Ezra Graham I like newspapers. In my room I have a whole pile of newspapers that’s about this high. And I like broadcasting. I’m a very avid public radio listener. I have the whole schedule memorized. We don’t have a TV here and that’s not something that I’m really bothered with because I still have access to in-print journalism and radio journalism. I mean journalism as a whole is just very exciting to me.
Newman So exciting, in fact, that while other students were struggling with home-based online learning at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ezra, a fourth grader at the time, launched the News Nerds podcast.
Graham We were in the beginnings of the COVID pandemic and the beginnings of a presidential race last year. And really it kind of started in March of 2020 when I was talking to my aunt over the phone, and she suggested that I do something like a podcast because she heard me talk about politics and what was happening. And she thought it would be cool if I shared that with not only my family, but the rest of the world. So, she helped me set up what I have now.
Newman What he has now is a website, a podcast feed, and 50 episodes of News Nerds.
[Podcast segment: intro music, “From Brown Cow Studios in Montana this is News Nerds. On this week’s episode I talk to John Swartzsberg. He is a clinical professor at the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley. He talks to me this week about the CDC’s guidance…”]
Newman Recently, News Nerds became a weekly feature on KGVM, a community radio station in Bozeman. And, just like the podcast episodes, it includes the News Nerds’ signature sound effect.
Newman Ezra Graham has also interviewed Jeremy Hobson, former host of NPR’s Here & Now, as well as other well-known people in radio and politics. He’s just finished episode number 50, featuring an interview with the New Yorker cartoonist Barry Blitt. How does an 11-year-old kid get an interview with someone like Barry Blitt?
Graham He actually won a Pulitzer, so I looked at the Pulitzer database. I most often find these people on the Internet.
Newman And how is he paying for this podcast project?
Graham One of the reasons that I’ve been able to get this amazing studio set up with this Electro-Voice RE20, the Cloudlifter, the USB audio interface is because I’ve gotten amazing support from my listeners, which is kind of modeled after public radio support, but I’ve also gotten amazing support from my chickens, which have been laying eggs for the past year now. So, I’ve been selling those eggs to my parents’ restaurant, and that’s one of the reasons that I’ve been able to afford this.
Newman Just how many egg-laying chickens does it take to support a podcast? Ezra and I walked out to the barn to find out.
Graham I think it’s around 30 right now. But it’s very hard to count with them always frolicking around because they’re so free-range.
[over rooster and chicken sounds]
Newman As Ezra grabs a handful of feed from a container, chickens come running. They surround him in a colorful swarm. He reaches down and picks up a large black, gray and white hen.
Graham This is my favorite. Her name is Louise. She’s a Barred Rock and she is the perfect chicken. She’s very, very friendly.
Newman You’ll find photos of Ezra Graham and Louise the Chicken at MTPR.org, as well as a link to the News Nerds Podcast website. For Montana News, I’m Chérie Newman.