By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
The Autumn television season is almost upon us, and that often means school is starting. Whether that’s post-secondary or elementary, sometimes all it takes is an extra audio-visual component to make learning wonderous–and that’s where Knowledge Network comes in. They have an excellent range of documentaries to help broaden any viewer’s mind.
I fell in love with this network’s offerings because of a special on Australia’s aboriginal culture a long time ago. If only Western Civilization 12 was taught like how this channel enlightens, I may have became an anthropologist instead of journalist. Flash forward to today, this British Columbia based publically funded broadcasting network is continuing with their mission. I mostly watch their specials on ancient history. From time to time, I’ll have their kids programming material playing in the background. In the past, I listened to Bill Nye the Science Guy and tuned into animated adaptations of popular children’s books I grew up reading.
Over the many decades of programming, their Knowledge Kids brand, now in their tween years, is only getting better. Not only can people find it on air Saturday mornings but also to watch on the go on iOS, Android or Roku enabled devices. In 2021, they’re offering something old and something new. I had a chance to correspond with Michele Paris, the Senior Manager of Children’s Programming, on what’s coming up:
How long has Knowledge Kids been around?
Knowledge Network had kids programming on the channel since the mid-1980s. (Fun fact Knowledge Network is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2021!) Knowledge Kids debuted on-air in 2008 and we’ve been expanding ever since. The original Knowledge Kids app launched in 2015, with new platforms added continuously, right up to today’s Knowledge Kids app for Fire Stick, released this year.
What makes this speciality service unique when compared to other offerings?
Knowledge Kids is entirely free and commercial-free across Canada. No subscription required! The kids programming is carefully vetted and selected by a human (who is also a mother). Kids can find a great mix of educational and entertaining shows and parents don’t have to sweat where it’s coming from.
How was the Fall line-up curated? That is, was there any specific criteria in deciding what shows would headline the Autumn season?
A new season of television is always a balancing act: there’s crowd-pleasers (more Paw Patrol!), cool new shows (Gus The Itsy Bitsy Knight), new takes on old favourites (a reboot of Clifford the Big Red Dog), sneak-in-the-learning titles (Elinor Wonders Why) and homegrown series (ABC with Kenny G, produced in Vancouver and Sweet Tweets, produced in Kelowna). We try to find something for every little kids’ unique needs and interests.
What are the chances of bringing back classics like Little Prince or George Shrinks in the future?
We’re only acquiring shows produced in HD that are more recent. If you love George Shrinks, check out Gus The Itsy Bitsy Knight, (starting September 6), which also features a tiny protagonist having big adventures!
Aside from having targeted programming for ages 2-8, is it possible to bring familiar franchises, like Transformers: Rescue Bots Academy to this service? I never could find this on the services I’m subscribed to.
We’re Transformer fans too! But the Knowledge Kids brand leans more towards educational and commercial-free content. But, do please check back with us in 2022 when we launch a new show involving some awesome animal characters who transform into adventure rangers.
Do you have any closing remarks?
If you haven’t seen it already, check out our home-grown half-hour special Luna, Chip & Inkie in The Festival of Wishes. The music, from Vancouver composer Daniel Ingram, is awesome. You can sing along to the video clips online here!
(Fall Lineup is on page 2)