Main | An Interview with Storksak and Babymel's Founders Melanie Marshall and Suzi Bergman »

Little Ashby Star Reporter: A New App Created by Nancy O'Dell of Entertainment Tonight

Nancy O’Dell, Entertainment Tonight host, launched a new kid-friendly app that focus on education and morals through the advtentures of her star reporter, Little Ashby. We spoke with Nancy about developing the app and being a working Mom. See what she has to say about Little Ashby (and why her daughter loves her) below.

Nancy, you’re quite a busy lady. How did you come up with the concept for Little Ashby and find the time to develop an innovative and educational app for kids?

Well, I have long thought about doing a series of stories about a little reporter who goes on assignments all over the world, while she learns so much in the process. One of the things I love most about my job as a reporter is how much I learn by meeting interesting people and going to so many different places. So, I thought how fun it would be for little kids to do that too! Obviously, they can’t travel the world in reality by themselves, but they can via an animated App.  So that’s the inspiration for “Little Ashby: Star Reporter”. Every storybook is a magical adventure as Ashby and her FUNtastic crew go on their assignment and the app is super-interactive. And what better first assignment for a little reporter to cover than Santa’s Big Premiere as he heads out on Christmas Eve! As far as finding the time to do it, my daughter and I spent wonderful time together coming up with things. (She was the one who told me Ashby and her crew should get to the North Pole by flying on Blitzen) I was also writing on set and looking at character drawings in between takes!


How much influence did your daughter have in the creative process and what does she think about Little Ashby and her sidekicks? What does your daughter think about you being a “star reporter” just like Little Ashby?


My daughter had a lot of influence. Obviously, the cute characters were easy to come up with as they are what a reporter needs to cover a story….a boom microphone(the character, Boomer), a light(the character, Shine), a cameraman(Arty), a camera(Cam), a reporter tablet(Padi), and a handheld microphone(Mike). But my daughter is the one who helped me choose the actual people who voiced them over. She loves my actual audio guy’s voice at Entertainment Tonight, so I appropriately asked him to voice Boomer! My daughter doesn’t voice Little Ashby as she is too young, but when I asked her what I should name the little reporter, of course, she said her name! And my daughter is the one who said I should have real-life video of some animals(she LOVES animals), so video of actual Arctic animals is interjected throughout, along with facts about them. Kids tap on a little icon within the app and real videos come up.


What upcoming adventures can we expect to see from Little Ashby? Will she go international in her reporting?


Oh yes! She goes to the North Pole in the first story and she will even go to the moon! Think of how educational that adventure is going to be as the kids learn about man’s first landing there when Little Ashby interviews an astronaut!


How toddler friendly is your app? Can a toddler navigate through the app on their own, or will they need parental assistance? What is the age range for the app?


The age range for the app is about 3-8 years old. A toddler would enjoy it, yes. The story is for a little older age, but there is so much to do on the app. Everything you tap does something or makes some kind of noise. It is super-interactive! And a toddler would love the real-life Arctic animal videos. Plus, it is about Santa Claus! 


What skills does the app focus on developing?


The kids definitely learn about geography from the app as we explain where places are and Padi, the tablet character, brings up a simple map to show where Little Ashby and her crew are going. The crew is playing a card game on the airplane to Alsaka in the story, so kids can pull up an actual matching memory game. Also, there is a letter-writing game at the end and a spelling game with various words used in the story such as “Santa” or “Snow”. And even more…the ability to use virtual crayons to color Little Ashby, her crew, and the places their assignment takes them.


How does Little Ashby reinforce morals and good behavior to children?


In the story, there is a Narwhal who tries to see Santa’s premiere. A Narwhal is actually a whale which exists in the Arctic with this really long and twisted tooth. He tells Little Ashby he can’t see Santa because people are blocking him and snickering at him because of the way he looks. Little Ashby is a sweet girl with a good heart and she moves over to let him see. Narwhal winds up saving the premiere in the end and then Santa delivers the message of how we are supposed to be kind to everyone all year long. Ashby takes that information back home and files her report about what the Holiday spirit is all about!


What advice do you have for Mompreneurs trying to pursue their dream of developing a product or brand? How so you balance being a star reporter, mom, and entrepreneur?


My biggest advice would be to not let anyone tell you no. Then do a ton of research and be persistent…that is key! As far as balancing, I think one should do things that accomplish more than one thing. For example, one reason this app is a project of love for me is because it is something my daughter is having a lot of fun with and we are spending so much time on it working together!  And to watch her play with the app while smiling the whole time and then repeat the facts she learned, what a great feeling!!
You can download Little Ashby Star Reporter from the iTunes store by clicking here.

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>