OGDEN — Greg Webb is in his 30s, has three young children and works full time in the insurance industry.
The Ogden resident says from all outward appearances, he fits the profile of your prototypical working-class parent.
But appearances can be deceiving. At his core, Webb says he’s really just a 10-year-old kid.
It’s this youthful frame of mind that drives his true passion: telling stories.
In 2017, Webb began recording what is now a world-spanning podcast for kids called the “Purple Rocket Podcast.” Webb describes the show as “educational audio adventures for kids.” The webcast, which airs twice a month on multiple platforms, features several separate series, including “Grandpa’s Globe,” an adventure saga in which a pair of precocious grandchildren explore different cities and solve mysteries, and “Space Train,” a tale of kids who get a magical ticket to board a hovering locomotive that takes them through the cosmos.
Webb has a daughter and two sons — the oldest of which is just 6 years old. He said he noticed the bedtime stories he was telling his children began to grow more and more animated and elaborate, with recurring characters, voice acting, sound effects and more. His kids loved the tales and he eventually put some of his ideas down on paper.
“Then one day I just thought it would be cool to record them,” Webb says.
To his surprise, the podcast started gaining steam. Webb says the show is now downloaded by about 40,000 to 50,000 unique visitors every month. People listen to his podcast from faraway places like England, Australia, India and more.
“I never thought I’d be telling stories to kids in India and Australia,” Webb said. “But it kind of just happened organically.”
Earlier this year, the podcast earned a “Parent’s Choice” award from the Parent’s Choice Foundation. Established in 1978, the nonprofit foundation reviews and recommends children’s media to provide parents with reliable and unbiased information about quality products. According to the foundation’s website, the awards are determined by a panel of educators, scientists, artists, librarians, parents and children.
Webb said he considered homing in on children’s books but ultimately decided the podcast was better suited for his story-telling approach.
“I want to create stories where kids can use their imagination to fill in the blanks,” Webb said. “Using the podcast format is an incredible way to engage and entertain kids without all the pitfalls of prolonged screen time. It’s like bringing back the golden age of radio. Back in the good old days, our grandparents sat around that box and were enthralled. I want to create that same vibe.”
Webb also likes the ability the podcast platform provides him to track his progress.
“It’s been cool to see the audience grow,” he said.
According to a report from global measurement and data analytics firm The Nielsen Co., the number of heavy podcast listeners — people who listen to them every day — grew by more than 3.6 million in 2019.
J.T. Street, who recently began working with Webb to help market Purple Rocket, said response to the show has increased since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and what has been, for many people, eight weeks of staying home as much as possible.
“One man’s love of storytelling is delighting kids around the world in a difficult time,” Street said. “(He’s) giving kids around the world a way to explore their worlds and imaginations — even during the COVID quarantine.”
Webb said he’s not sure how long he’ll do the podcast or what will ultimately come of it. For now, he’s just enjoying the ride.
“As my wife can attest, I’m basically a giant 10-year old,” Webb said. “So if I’m being completely honest, these stories are as much for me as they are for the kids.”