Local talk show tackles parenting's hardest questions with cable acces show, YouTube clips
While prepping conversation topics for their local cable access show "The Motherload — Not Your Mother's Parenting Advice," West Linn residents Ann Brown and Amy Stoeber sometimes struggle to focus on the task at hand, instead bantering back and forth with one another. Armed with a seemingly endless supply of jokes, the pair of longtime friends take turns trading playful barbs, poking and prodding, never failing to capitalize on an opportunity to make fun of the other.
Despite their good-natured bickering, there's one thing they can always agree on — parenting is not easy. In fact, it's hard. Extremely hard.
While both have extensive backgrounds in the subject — Brown, a parenting consultant, and Stoeber, a clinical child psychologist — the pair say they didn't need a Ph. D like Stoeber or 35-plus years of experience like Brown to reach their shared conclusion. As parents themselves, they say they've had their fair share of parenting mishaps and blunders over the years, and after a decade of friendship they finally decided to share their own experiences with the greater parenting community.
"Every once in a while you meet someone and think, 'This just works.' We're not the same, we don't agree on everything, but we have the same values," Brown says. "From the time we met we started talking about, 'We should do something together.' We didn't know it would be this, but we had talked about it."
They taught a few family classes together over the years, but it wasn't until the summer of 2015, with Stoeber's husband, Troy, acting as the catalyst, that the pair finally decided to act on the idea of a parent-advice show. Between their respective professions, various responsibilities within the community and of course parenting their own children, Stoeber says pursuing dreams like hosting a talk show take a back seat. But with Troy's encouragement, the pair decided to make the project a priority.
"We moved slowly, I would say glacier speed, and then it was Troy who kind of sat us down and demanded that we either do this or not because he was sick of hearing us talk about it," Brown says. "But then we sat down with Troy and made a plan about how we were going to do this. I would say Troy was and is the fuel."
The concept was simple. Brown and Stoeber would use their unique backgrounds to tackle real questions from parents. Both Brown and Stoeber help families work through parenting problems every day on a one-on-one basis, but they wanted an outlet that would reach larger audiences in an entertaining fashion.
"We want people to know that none of us can hold each other to a flawless model, and we need each other as parents," says Brown, who teaches group classes for families at Marylhurst University in addition to her private practice. "We need to be able to talk to each other and figure things out, get a reality check, because there's no one right answer in parenting."
"There is never a lack of questions about parenting. If you can think up the question we have talked about it and answered it," Amy Stoeber says. "We really want people to know that everybody struggles with these things, that these are normal problems, hard problems, but I hope we can help in some way."
Brown specializes in work with young children while Amy Stoeber works more with older kids and teenagers, producing a nice blend of expertise. The pair have taught classes together in the past, giving them a natural chemistry they felt would translate well over the radio waves or on television.
Finding a platform for their ideas was somewhat difficult, however. The trio of Brown and Amy and Troy Stoeber reached out to Willamette Falls Media Center, who liked their idea and agreed to provide their facilities and equipment so long as they created enough content to fill a 30-minute time slot once a month. The only thing left to do was the actual shooting and editing of the show.
"(WFMC) was looking for original programming, and as a tradeoff we get to be the owners of the actual material. So we can put it on YouTube, promote it on our Facebook page and use it however else we want. It's a win-win, symbiotic relationship," Troy Stoeber says.
Brown and Amy Stoeber got to work brainstorming topics and organizing guests to bring on the show while Troy Stoeber dove headfirst into the unknown world of TV production. Working with WFMC staff, he slowly learned the basics of creating a set, setting up lighting, shooting and the editing the show in post-production. A pediatrician by day, finding time to learn the editing software and piece together a product he was proud of was difficult, but the first episode of "The Motherload" debuted in Oregon City and Milwaukie in November of 2015.
"It was all on-the-job training, and I needed a lot of help at first, but we're at a point now that if push came to shove I could probably do everything from setup to broadcasting by myself. But it's really nice to have the support of the studio to know everything is going to go smoothly."
The on-air talent, meanwhile, began to hit their stride after a few months of filming. They say they've received helpful feedback from viewers, and eventually moved from a talk show format with guests to a true parenting advice show that featured Brown and Amy Stoeber exclusively. They also discovered people prefer shorter clips, and began to create 5-7 minute "Motherload Morsels" in addition to the cable access show that they regularly upload to YouTube and Facebook. They currently collect questions from friends and fans of the show in between episodes, but hope to gain enough notoriety to have people call in live during filming.
Brown and Amy Stoeber have honed in on universal topics that many parents can relate to. They say there are no right answers in parenting, and that while they don't always agree 100 percent, their close relationship makes for entertaining yet informative content. They say their dream is to someday move on to a big-time radio station, and create a podcast with their talk show as well.
"It's a treasure trove of information," Troy Stoeber says. "The people that I get feedback from really appreciate hearing from an expert. It's kind of infotainment. It's entertaining but it's also informative."
"Now we definitely have motivation and Troy's organizational harnesses. For us it's really finding more opportunities to reach broader audiences," Amy Stoeber says. "We would absolutely be open to talking at schools, to talking at moms groups, talking at religious institutions. If people wanted to hire us to come in for women's luncheon or a parent night at their school, I think that's something else we would be very interested in."
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