Episode 198: Katie Leigh and the 1000th Episode of Adventures in Odyssey

In this episode we talk with voice actor Katie Leigh, voice of Connie Kendall, about her work on Adventures in Odyssey and other fun adventures she’s had during her extensive career.

Our Guest: Katie Leigh

Katie Leigh is a multi-faceted voice-over veteran. She is beloved as Connie Kendall in the world’s longest running international radio drama, Adventures in Odyssey. Other roles she’s played include Baby Rowlf in the Emmy Award-Winning Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies cartoon series, Honker Muddlefoot in Darkwing Duck, Sheila the Thief in Dungeons and Dragons, Richie in Richie Rich, Sunni Gummi of Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears, Alex in Totally Spies and young Han Solo for Lego Star Wars: Padawan Menace, and many others.

Transcript/Show Notes:

Terrie (00:09):

Welcome to Season 8 of “Books That Spark,” a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books that help us with everyday discipleship every day, sparking important conversations with our children. We’re back from our break and very glad to be here, and today we have a very special episode for you with voice actor Katie Leigh and talking about Adventures in Odyssey having their 1000th episode next month, so you’ll want to hear about that and maybe hear join in the celebration. It’s so exciting. We’re glad you’re here and hope you enjoy the episode. Well, I’m very excited about our guest today. Katie Leigh is with us and she is a voice actor, writer and actress. Would you tell us a little bit about the many, many things you have done as a voice actor?

Katie (00:58):

Well, your audience probably knows me best as the voice of Connie Kendall on Adventures in Odyssey because I’ve been doing that for 37 years now, so a little while. I’ve also done a lot of cartoons, especially in the 80s, that were very popular. Like Disney’s Adventures of the Gummy Bears, Darkwing Duck, Totally Spies, I mean a lot of different cartoons and movies and things. I’ve had the joy of working on some toys, Mr. Men Show… yeah!

Terrie (01:29):

Muppet Babies.

Katie (01:30):

Muppet Babies! Oh, I forgot- Oh, I forgot the Muppet Babies. What’s the matter with me? Far out. That’s right, there we go. Okay. We’re all here.

Terrie (01:40):

Many of those. Well that’s cool. The main reason I contacted you was because I’m so excited to learn that Adventures in Odyssey will be airing their 1000th episode. That’s unreal.

Katie (01:54):

Yeah, we’ve already recorded, we’ll be past a thousand episodes by the time we do the Big One Grand Party. They’re calling it in Colorado Springs, August 1st.

Terrie (02:05):

That’s cool. So tell us a little bit about what it’s been like to work with them for so long.

Katie (02:10):

It’s like living in a parallel universe. They’ve become my family, my best friends, and the fans are like family. I have a YouTube show too called. ‘Tell Ya Later,’ it’s a Patreon supported show. Some of this stuff’s on YouTube and a lot of our family are people who grew up listening to Odyssey. There were some videos, but you know, it’s just like this alternate reality. People often confuse me with my character, and I don’t care, cause we’re pretty similar, so that’s all right. I just don’t give advice out without, you know, like people think, oh you know, you must know all this stuff, but I just read the scripts. I’m so blessed to do it, and really, we were all about the same age when we started. So we’ve all grown old together, become grandparents together. We’re still making the show, which is insane.

Terrie (03:04):

I love it. Yeah, my kids have grown up with it, so it’s just amazing that it’s lasted this long, but it’s had such good storytelling and such good messages.

Katie (03:14):

I’ve been traveling and I meet grandparents who know the show really well and their kids and then their grandkids all listen. I often hear their parents reporting. Yeah, my kids learn so much about the Bible from listening to Odyssey. They didn’t get it in Sunday school necessarily, but they got it listening to Odyssey, so that’s wonderful.

Terrie (03:32):

Yeah, that’s amazing. Well, and I know that you’re also involved in some other projects that we definitely want to talk about as well. Tell us about your involvement with Answers in Genesis.

Katie (03:44):

Okay, yeah, I’m so excited. Like I said, we’ve been doing this almost 40 years, so a lot of people who have grown up and have gone into the media producing business or actually people who grew up on Odyssey, it’s great to see what they’re producing. Answers in Genesis has a series on right now on their TV channel called Lily’s Lab. Lily’s a little pink dinosaur and her name’s Lily cause she’s a Leonesaurus and she teaches the kids about science that’s found in the Bible. So that’s for younger kids. It’s super fun. We’re working on recording our second season right now of that. So I’m Lily’s voice if you couldn’t tell.

Terrie (04:27):

Yes.

Katie (04:27):

And she’s super cute. Also, I just got to work on a new project they’re doing called Truth Traveler and it’s a virtual reality experience that’s going to be in Pigeon Forge, and Branson, and eventually various places. I’m a robot voice and his name is Pod. I don’t know what they’re going to do to the voice. I know they’re going to mess with it electronically, so I don’t know exactly how I’m going to sound when it’s all finished, but that’s super fun. Oh, and I’ve had the privilege of working with Butch Hartman who is known for creating shows for Nickelodeon, like the Fairly OddParents and Danny Phantom, but he’s a believer and he just wants to produce content for kids to teach them about Jesus. So he has a new show out, it’s a subscription base called The Garden Cartoon and you can see little bits of it on YouTube. It’s for like preschoolers younger kids to teach them about Jesus. There’s music songs, he has a Garden Bible and I’ve gotten to do a few characters for him on that, so that’s pretty neat. There’s a lot of fun stuff. Lamplighter Theater, there’s audio, I don’t know if you’re familiar with them.

Terrie (05:36):

Yeah.

Katie (05:37):

I got to do a project with them for a book called The Hidden Hand and I got to play the lead, which was fun, Capicola. That’s a 14-parter, so if you’re going on a really long car trip…

Terrie (05:49):

Well that’s so cool because we talk a lot about the books that are out there for our kids and how we can use those in discipling our kids. But I haven’t done a whole lot talking about what we can do as far as audio. I do suggest audio books, but this is so cool to tap into some other resources that families can use. And I had heard that the guy who does Danny Phantom had become a Christian or was a Christian and was trying to do some Christian things. I did not remember his name.

Katie (06:17):

Yes, he’s been a Christian. He just was working on stuff, but now he has the wherewithal to produce what he and his lovely wife have on their hearts. They have a few ministries actually and he’s got lots of nice ideas for faith-based content, Christian content to put out there. I think he’s going to be at a homeschool convention actually out here in California, in Ontario, California.

Terrie (06:43):

I’m going to be at that one.

Katie (06:44):

You are!?

Terrie (06:45):

Yeah.

Katie (06:46):

I was thinking of going, it’s too late for me to be in the program. They did say I could have a table, but I heard Butch was going so you’ll get to meet him and you’ll see he’s got like those walking walk around costumes for the main characters.

Terrie (07:00):

Yeah, I saw him at MOMcon last year and the MOPS, well now they’re momco, they do a convention each year, MOMcon, and he was at that, I saw his little creatures walking around and my daughter was telling me all about it because she knew who he was and knew all about. Yeah, it was really fun.

Katie (07:20):

Yeah, there’s a lamb and a lion, Lucy and Lenny. Yeah, so there’s a lot of audio drama being produced these days by people who grew up listening to Odyssey. So it’s really great, cause I’m starting to get to work with people who are creating new stuff that feels fun to work on and this whole other generation of people who’ve grown up on audio dramas and they just want more of it.

Terrie (07:47):

Yeah, and it’s quality stuff it sounds like too, which is so nice.

Katie (07:53):

Yeah, most of it is. I mean even our show we do, I started it with Will Ryan about nine months before he unfortunately passed away. We didn’t expect that and he was one of my best friends. He played Eugene on Odyssey, but you know, our show is, my husband likes to say good, clean fun. You are not going to hear anything terrible that you can’t share with your family, and I like to have interesting people on to talk about their stories. I think everybody has a great story.

Terrie (08:24):

Yeah, that’s wonderful.

Katie (08:26):

I really do. You do.

Terrie (08:28):

Well thank you.

Katie (08:29):

Yeah, you’ve shared some of your story. I mean that would be so neat. People have such great experiences but I’m so thankful. When I first became a believer, I was already working as a voice actor and I just prayed that God could use me and I just pinch myself every day thinking wow, there’s only one Connie Kendall so far, and how did I get to be her out of everybody in the universe, you know?

Terrie (08:53):

Wow.

Katie (08:54):

It’s pretty awesome.

Terrie (08:55):

How can families find a lot of these resources? What would be the best way for them to tap into where all of these are located?

Katie (09:05):

Well definitely if you go to Focus on The Family, their website, they’re the ones that produce Adventures in Odyssey. They also have magazines for kids. They have a lot of resources on their page. Of course Wit’s End is a great place to go if you’re going to have a birthday party in Colorado Springs. I think, you know… it’s really interesting. I don’t think there’s a directory per se. I know that there is a show, Audio Theatre Central, where they review a lot of audio dramas that are coming out and I think most of them are have some faith-based element in them or at least they’re safe for families. I know that Answers in Genesis also, they have their website because they’re the people who make the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum, so I know that some of the stuff I’ll be doing is going to end up there partially, eventually. Also, people might have heard me, Abide is an app that tells stories. It’s kind of like the Christian version of Calm app.

Terrie (10:08):

Okay.

Katie (10:09):

There’s kids stories on there and I’ve gotten to play some roles on the kids stories on the Abide app. So nice little bedtime stories there. There’s stuff being made all the time, but I don’t know how one finds it. Jonathan Park is another series I’ve gotten to work on. So I think if you just Googled Christian or Faith-based audio dramas, I hope a lot of stuff will pop up, cause it does exist.

Terrie (10:35):

Yeah, well maybe we should make a little handout that gives them a directory of some of these. That would be kind of cool to do with the, I’d make a blog post with each podcast episode so maybe I could put a listing of some of these links in one place for them to find them. That would be really cool.

Katie (10:51):

Yeah, I think that would be good. Or interview JD Sutter, because he runs Audio Theatre Central. Yeah, there’s also like that one, there’s a radio serious type thing called one something, OnePlace I think where you can find a lot of stuff. I know Odyssey’s on there and they have their app. So there’s Adventures in Odyssey app, which I have, and I’m purposing now to start listening from the first episode. I’m up to five but I want to go through all thousand of and hear them this year. That’s my goal.

Terrie (11:27):

Wow. That would be fun.

Katie (11:29):

A lot of people do it every year. You wouldn’t believe it Terrie. I was just at a girls conference in Mississippi with Chris, our host of the show and all homeschool families I think, or at least families that don’t watch tv and those girls knew so much trivia about the show and we were like embarrassed cause we didn’t know anything compared to them.

Terrie (11:52):

That’s so fun though. I love that.

Katie (11:56):

It’s great.

Terrie (11:58):

Before we finish up, I want to definitely give you an opportunity to share about your books as well cause you’ve got a couple books you’ve helped write or have written. So tell us about those.

Katie (12:08):

So if you go to my website KatieLeigh.com, that’s L-E-I-G-H, you can find some stuff. Will and I put together a book a while back called Adventures in Oddity, which is written like dialogue between the two of us, which he would say proves once and for all that we’re nothing like our characters that we play on Odyssey, which, you know, uh-huh, yeah, right. So I’ve known kids who’ve bought the book and they read it each other one’s me and one’s Will, and they have fun cause it’s written in dialogue form. Not a lot of redeeming value, but it is fun. There’s nothing wrong with it either. Just last year I produced my own book, which isn’t necessarily for children, it’s illustrated. It’s called the Itty Bitty Book of Codependency and it’s got some very humorous drawings and rye comments to get people thinking. It’s actually interesting.

Katie (13:02):

I’m also a substitute teacher and I took it to school one day in high school and these boys who had nothing to do cause it was like a music class and what am I going to do? Just sit there and make sure they don’t get into too much trouble. They saw my book and like all five of them were just looking at it and looking at the pictures and talking about how, oh, I know what this means and oh my mom does this or oh, so we can see ourselves and I think that humor’s a great way to share some poignant thoughts if we can. It’s kind of the easiest way, spoonful of sugar kind of way to get some ideas across.

Terrie (13:40):

That’s kind of cool actually.

Katie (13:43):

I think so. I’ll have to send you a copy.

Terrie (13:46):

Oh, I’d love that.

Katie (13:47):

Yeah, it’s really fun. I don’t know how to get it in bookstores yet. That’s my goal, but it is available on Amazon and if anybody wants an autograph copy they can go through my website. So yeah, someone said, is there an audio version? No, cause it’s just like one phrase on each page… You can’t. You have to see the pictures. It’s not an audio book, but there is an audio version of Adventures in Oddity, so that’s kind of fun. Yeah, I’m trying to think what else. There’s so many fun things happening these days. I can’t stand it, but I also can’t remember them.

Terrie (14:23):

Well I think it’s wonderful. I just, we get so caught up in the negative that’s out in the world and as parents we get so concerned about what our children are hearing and being bombarded with and it’s just so much fun and so wonderful to hear about the work that you guys are doing to bring good things into our kids’ lives, and I love that.

Katie (14:45):

There really is, if you look for it, don’t just default or throw your hands up in the air. There’s too much stuff available really, and that’s why I think we don’t know where to look, but if you’re purposeful about it, you’ll find things. Our ears are such great tools. Listening to audio dramas develop so much: your critical thinking, your listening skills. There’s always something to talk about, so I think parents will listen with their kids and we try to encourage discussion about lots of things, and I know Focus and the Adventures in Odyssey team believes that parents and their kids should talk about things, not just here, this is something for you, kid, and while I’m off doing whatever I’m doing, it’s something families can listen to together. So it always makes me sad when they say, oh Odyssey’s the kids program. No, no, it’s a family program.

Terrie (15:40):

True, and I always appreciated that too because you’re listening with your kids and if it’s not something that is intelligent enough or interesting enough for the parents, then it does become something that you don’t talk about as much and you don’t enjoy together, but this is something that is so good and so compelling. I always enjoyed listening to Adventures in Odyssey always with my kids. It was so much fun.

Katie (16:02):

Well that blesses me to hear that, and you’re probably like, your kids reach a certain age and people think what? “You’re still on the air?” Like yeah, we’re way past Album 50, get with the program. When your kids grow up you change what you do, change what you listen to, but yeah, we’re still hanging in there.

Terrie (16:22):

That’s awesome. Well, I wish you all the best and continued opportunities. I hope that many more open up for you, but I’m just so excited with what you’ve shared with us today. I can’t wait to share this with my audience and to give them links to the different sites. I think it’s fantastic.

Katie (16:38):

Yeah, and if you can’t find something let me know and I’ll look for it for you. Yeah, Lamplighter Theater, Audio Theatre Central, Jonathan Park. There’s some more I can’t think of right now, but yeah, there’s lots of good stuff out there.

Terrie (16:53):

It sounds like it. That’s awesome. Well, thank you for taking the time to talk with us today. I really appreciate it.

Katie (16:58):

Thank you for having me.

Terrie (17:01):

Thank you for joining us for “Books That Spark,” where we encourage each other to grasp those teachable moments sparked by great books and to live out everyday discipleship, helping to equip our children to follow Christ with their whole hearts. If you enjoyed this episode, please like and share so people know we are here. We truly appreciate you. If you would like to connect with me, you can join my mailing list or comment on TerrieHellardBrown.com. If you would like to connect with Katie, you can reach her on her website, which is KatieLeigh.com. I will have the link in the show notes and you can also find information about Adventures in Odyssey on FocusOnTheFamily.com. We love to hear from you and we respond to every comment and question, so please feel free to comment on the blog post and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Most of all, we pray you feel empowered to walk by faith and to embrace everyday discipleship every day with the children in your life.

Your Host: Terrie Hellard-Brown

Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials.

Her newest book, A World of Pancakes, just launched and is available at terriehellardbrown.com. Her devotional for families, Building Character through Picture Books: 25 Family Devotions Based on Favorite Picture Books, is available on her website and through Amazon.

Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion leading to teachable moments with our kids. Her podcast posts each Tuesday morning.

Her blog posts discuss living as a disciple of Christ while parenting our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ and to use the nooks and crannies of our lives to disciple our children.

Terrie uses her experiences as a mother of four (three on “the spectrum”), 37 years in ministry (15 in Taiwan), and 32 years teaching to speak to the hearts of readers.

Her motto is “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be WONDERFUL” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.

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