Leela Sivasankar Prickitt, 9, and her journalist mother Lyndee Prickitt, 49, started Newsy Jacuzzi out of sheer boredom during the lockdown last year. However, little did they know that their passion project – claimed to be India’s first children’s news podcast – would receive a ‘cease & desist’ letter from Jacuzzi, a global manufacturer of branded baths, in September this year.
In the letter, the company stated that their podcast is “identical to our corporate name and business identity as such as likely to confuse the public and make them believe that your business if any is in some way connected with or endorsed by Jacuzzi Group which it is not”.
Could people really think the podcaster duo are selling jacuzzis? Would potential listeners walk into a Jacuzzi store and say, “Excuse me, where is the podcast for children we want to hear?”
The spirited mother-daughter duo decided to make the most of the situation and completely rebranded themselves into “something even bigger than a little Jacuzzi”. They decided to drain the jacuzzi and call themselves News Pooloozi, the “news pool for smart kids and curious adults”.
News Pooloozi covers all kinds of topics ranging from Baby Shark to Black Lives Matter. Lyndee breaks down the most informational stories from across the world to her nine-year-old daughter Leela to understand, grasp, and possibly audit. Listed as one of NYT’s Top 30 Podcasts for Kids in the world, the duo cover everything – from science and art to sports and entertainment.
The mother-daughter team of podcasters crawl under the bed each week to record their educational podcast for kids. But why under the bed? “Because the sound is better there (and it makes us laugh). We live in India but have roots across the world. Stuck inside all summer during the nasty old COVID-19 pandemic, all we could do to feel connected to the world was report on it. And so Newsy Pooloozi was born,” they say.
“We’re also pretty passionate about getting people – young and old – and interested in what’s happening all over the world. We work hard to make the complicated simpler, the seemingly dull pop with life and have as much fun as possible with our family-friendly, educational news podcast for kids and curious minds everywhere,” they add.
According to the Newsy Pooloozi website, Leela is half-Indian, half-American and was born in Britain. “So, I travel with a lot of passports. But it also means I can potentially play football for three countries. It also means I’m interested in what’s happening all over the world. Since both my parents are journalists, news is discussed a lot in my house,” she says.
“So, if I want to enter the conversation, I have to keep up with what’s going on. And since the annoying pandmeic meant I wasn’t going anywhere in summer 2020, I thought, why not bring the world to me and starte a global news podcast?” adds Leela, who says she is also totally addicted to listening to kids’ podcasts. Her favourites are Wow in the World, Eleanor Amplified, Circle Round and The Past and The Curious.
Leela’s mother Lyndee, a Texan, began her journalism career with the BBC Radio in the UK. Then, she moved on to TV with Reuters in London, Singapore, Mumbai and then New Delhi. She has been living in Delhi for the past 10 years.
“I also created an award-winning digital short story, breaking ground in immersive storytelling. These days, I mostly edit papers for think tanks and write for Monocle, the world affairs and lifestyle magazine, when I’m not recording Leela under the bed,” Lyndee adds.