Who the Folk?! Molly Bloom

Welcome to “Who the Folk?!” Every week on Monday we feature a new member of our Jewish community. Know someone we should feature? Nominate them by sending an email to [email protected].

Last week we got to know Mike Jacobs. This week meet Molly Bloom!

TC Jewfolk: Are you from the Twin Cities?

Molly: Yes, I grew up in St. Louis Park. I went away for college, and then I came back. We all come back.

TCJ: What are you doing here?

Molly: I am a digital producer at MPR. I work in the newsroom, helping turn our radio stories into read well on the internet. I make videos as well with my colleague Curtis Gilbert, where we explain complicated ideas in a fun way. In addition to that, I host and produce Brains On! which is a science podcast for kids and curious adults.

TCJ: Can you share a little more about Brains On!?

Molly: Brains On! is something that I created with two of my friends and colleagues, Marc Sanchez and Sanden Totten. It is a co-production between MPR and our sister station, Southern California Public Radio (KPCC). We release two episodes a month. I host each episode along with a different kid every month. We answer questions we get from our audience of kids, the kid co-hosts interview scientists, and we explain complicated ideas with skits, songs, by talking to other scientists, and more… We have fun!

TCJ: Do you have any sense of your audience?

Molly: Our audience is all over the world! We get emails from kids every day now saying, “We like your show,” or “We have a question we want you to answer,” or “Here’s a Mystery Sound for you–” Mystery Sound is a segment on our show, so kids will send they’re OWN mystery sound. They send us drawings, too, and it’s awesome. We’ve heard from people all over the country, as well as South Korea, Australia, Switzerland, Amsterdam–they’re all over the place.

TCJ: Have you always wanted to work in radio?

Molly: I got into radio in college. I worked a lot at my college radio station, eventually becoming the director of operations of the station. And I had a kids show there too! It was more of a story show–we did little radio plays of stories for kids. After college I wanted to keep working in radio, so I had a couple different internships in public radio, and I started at MPR as an intern with American RadioWorks, our documentary program, and just sort of stayed on, working different jobs connected to the newsroom.

TCJ: You also talked about that video series you do, explaining complicated issues in a fun way…

Molly: Yeah, we usually make a couple a year. Back in 2008, Curtis and I had a podcast that covered that year’s election, called Electionwise, where we answered questions about stuff related to the election and politics. We ended up explaining things together a lot on that podcast, and we switched to doing videos when that podcast ended. The first one we did was explaining how instant runoff voting works using post-it notes. From there we sort of let the news dictate what videos we do. When an issue comes up that’s pretty complicated, but important, and affects people, we try to find ways to explain it. We did one about property taxes using LEGOs, one about the Voter ID amendment using a play on magnetic poetry, etc.

TCJ: Do you ever think about the fact that you have a worldwide audience? That’s not a usual thing for most people.

Molly: Well, it’s kind of new. We’ve only been doing regular episodes of our podcast since May, so we are wrapping our minds around the fact that we have listeners all over the country and the world. It’s definitely exciting. We love hearing from parents and kids–things like, “My kid has listened to every episode multiple times. Please make more episodes!” So it’s pretty exciting that we are part of these kids lives in a significant way, and we’re inspiring them to be curious about the world. That means a lot to us.

TCJ: Has science always been an interest for you? Or was this more just a need you identified for kids programming?

Molly: I’ve always been interested in science. I took science classes all throughout high school, and I took some in college, even though my major was Political Science. When we started thinking about what we wanted to do for the podcast, we knew we wanted to make something for kids because kids are awesome. They also have amazing interests and questions, and science was sort of a natural fit given the questions that kids have. A lot of questions kids ask have explanations based in science. And we think science education is super important, so it was sort of a natural fit for us.

TCJ: What is your favorite Jewish holiday?

Molly: I don’t like Yom Kippur, but I really like Kol Nidre. It’s sort of weird to say Yom Kippur is my favorite holiday, but Kol Nidre is my favorite.

TCJ: What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Molly: Chocolate rugelach. It’s soooo delicious. It’s a great pastry that is not too sweet, the texture is just kind of perfect, and it’s just the right bite-sized amount of deliciousness. And it’s actually a dessert that’s not that hard to make, but looks hard to make, so it’s very impressive when you can bring it over to someone’s house.

TCJ: We also heard you’re a great baker of cookies.

Molly: Ha! I do like to bake… a lot. I make really good snickerdoodles. I also enjoy making bundt cakes. And recently I started making pasties, which my mother-in-law taught me how to make. She grew up on the Iron Range–pasties are an Iron Range food. They also eat them in Michigan and are originally from England.

TCJ: Finally, give us one more reason why you’re folking awesome! 

Molly: I’m a part of the Prairie Fire Lady Choir. I’ve been part of it since 2011 and it’s a pleasure to sing with such an amazing group of women. I’ve arranged some of the songs we sing too — including our high lonesome version of “No Scrubs.”

Click here to nominate your favorite TC Jew to be featured on our weekly Who the Folk?! series!