From sneaking out of the house past curfew to organizing a protest, Ooh You’re In Trouble shares true stories of Rebels, Rascals, Rule Breakers, and even Revolutionaries. Hosted by Merk Nguyen, who goes by “LV” (Little Voice Inside Your Head), Ooh You’re in Trouble features tales of mischief from real kids – like Ava, who petitions her school to mandate masks during the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020, and Xiomara, who gets revenge against a bully by putting live worms in their lunch. The character of LV gives kids a voice to express what they’re experiencing in real time, which is particularly vital during this challenging moment in history.
Q: What is the podcast about?
A: Ooh You’re in Trouble (listentotrouble.com) is a podcast for tweens and parents featuring true stories about what happens when kids defy the rules. It’s part comedy, part educational. For kids, it’s got high-energy stories filled with laughter or suspense. For parents, the show helps kids sharpen their decision-making skills by using stories that asks kids how they might handle ethically challenging situations.
Q: How did the podcast come about?
A: I also created and currently produce Mortified (getmortifie
d.com)— a podcast and stage show where adults read aloud their most embarrassing teenage diaries, love letters and more. Ooh You’re in Trouble arose from a desire to do a variation of a confessional show like that, but one that is aimed at kids and that helps them navigate life. So my producing partner Neil Katcher started kicking our ideas with our editor Hadley Dion, and we brought the idea to TRAX, a podcast network for tweens funded by PRX with a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Later, we brought in narrator Merk Nguyen, who some people might know from Radiotopia’s Adult-ish podcast.
Q: Is it aimed more at parents or tweens?
A: Both! The show has a lot of jokes and relatable stories that both age groups can enjoy. We took everything we learned about the power of true life storytelling from Mortified (a show for grownups), and we applied to Ooh You’re in Trouble.
Q: What makes this show relevant today?
A: Adults have tons of options for podcasts. For kids 9-13, the options are more limited. We see that as a huge opportunity to reach kids. Why should adults get all those options? In a lot of ways, this is like a true crime podcast for kids— except we’re featuring stories of kids breaking curfews or getting into fights with friends or taking cookies from the cookie jar. We tackle the idea of “rule breaking” from a lot of angles— sometimes it’s a story of kids acting up, other times it’s a story of a kid defying a rule to protest something. We have a “no shaming” policy. Our goal is not to tell kids that they are bad if they act up. We see everything as an opportunity for a kid to learn.
Q: How does the show help kids?
A: Our show is designed to help kids learn how to think independently. After all, when you become 10 or 11, you start to find yourself in situations where there’s no grownup around to guide you. And very often, those situations involve being tempted, breaking rules or testing boundaries. Our goal is to help kids navigate those moments in a smart, healthy way. When a kid hears a story on our show, they begin to apply it to their own life. The show asks kids, “what would you do if you were in this situation.”
Q: What are some of the reactions you’re getting from parents and kids?
A: We keep hearing parents telling us that when they listen in the car, the kids beg their parents to keep driving so they can hear more. We have heard from several teachers, too, who incorporate the show into the classroom. You can see more reactions in this video.
Q: What’s a good episode for a newcomer?
A: We just launched season 2. A great starting place is our debut episode, The Candy Smuggler, the story of a girl who winds up trying to sneak junk food into her home and gets in way over her head. It’s hilarious and suspenseful and plays like a true crime caper.
I also love episode 1 of season 2, I Broke the Dress Code, about a girl who protests her school’s dress code because finds it sexist. Or Tokyo Heist, featuring the story of a girl in Japan who goes behind her parent’s back and spends money on a toy that was intended for school.
We even dip into history. In season 1, we interviewed Carlotta Walls LaNier, one of the members of The Little Rock Nine, who, as a teenager, fought for racial equality in the 1950s by defying the Arkansas governor’s racist segregation rules. It’s a powerful episode and one of the reasons I’m so proud to work on the show. We approach the idea of defying the rules from a variety of perspectives— from kids fighting for justice to kids just acting out.