Coppocast: “What’s Best For Kids?”

ll-to-wall windows in his office with two pairs of headphones, two microphones, a mixing board and his laptop in front of him, Principal Rob Coppo flips a switch. A sign above his office doorway lights up and his headphones go on. Watch out, podcasters nationwide: Coppo is on air. 

Since his first episode in August 2022, Coppo has recorded and edited 11 episodes of the podcast “What’s Best for Kids,” a series in which he and his guests discuss the topics most important to them in today’s educational system, diving into “what educators wish parents knew about educating, and what parents wish educators knew about parenting.” Coppo’s guests, former TPHS teacher Don Collins and Vice Principal Rebecca Gallow to name a few, have shared personal anecdotes and feelings on topics from smartphones to gun safety to ‘80s high school traditions. 

But like many other wannabe podcasters, Coppo’s momentum with “What’s Best For Kids” was not beginner’s luck.

“I did a podcast years ago with a buddy of mine called ‘Postpunk Party’ where we listened to old ‘80s albums and just went song by song and talked about our memories of them,” Coppo said.

But “What’s Best For Kids” was backed by an entirely separate era in Coppo’s life, one that had nothing to do with Walkmans or synths: the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This office itself became a hotbed of educational discussion,” Coppo said. “I was like, man, I wish parents and kids could hear what we’re talking about.”

Though “What’s Best For Kids” made its first Spotify appearance more than two years later, Coppo quickly assimilated his new podcasting passion into what he jokingly referred to as his principal “day job.” That said, even the mightiest Falcon needs a little practice to get comfortable.

“I am a seasoned actor. I was president of Torrey Pines Players here back in the day. I did drama at NYU and acted in student films, and I love being on stage,” Coppo said. “And yet, I set up that microphone, started recording, and [I think], ‘Why does it sound like I’m talking out of my nose?’”

Listeners can pick up Coppo’s struggle to find his sea legs behind a professional microphone in the first episode of “What’s Best For Kids?” which is conveniently named “What’s Best For Kids?” The problem? Pointed out by Coppo himself, the overuse of the very phrase, “What’s Best for Kids.”

However, as episodes progress, Coppo balances the back-and-forth between himself and his guests. Highlights include the witty repartee between Coppo and Collins, longtime friends whose only shortcomings, from the student perspective, are some inaccessible ‘80s references. But then again, what would a Rob Coppo production be without a certain level of nerdiness?

“Going back [to my time in the film industry], I was asked a question: ‘Do you want to be a writer or editor?’ and I said a writer at the time…But when I started teaching film later, I realized that editing is my strength,” Coppo said. “So when it came to [the podcast], my face just lit up.”

Coppo uses the platform Anchor, a podcast-making service through Spotify. He uses an introductory music track provided through Anchor, adding a satisfyingly professional air to a podcast made in the TPHS administration building.

“The technical side of it, I like it too much,” Coppo said.

Between recordings, Coppo nervously checks the listening statistics for his episodes, hoping the conversations spark interest in his listeners. 

“Even if you didn’t like anything you heard, I hope you stay curious,” Coppo said.

Most of all, he hopes to share productive conversations, not the “CNN crossfire,” he sees on other educational podcasts. With so many conflicting opinions on what is indeed “best for kids,” conversations focused on working through problems rather than ones that start them is refreshing. 

“If I’m not taking any chances as an educator, what am I doing?” Coppo said. “And just like jumping into the deep end of a pool on a summer day when you think it’s gonna be cold, it’s incredibly refreshing and it worked out. And I wanted to keep swimming.”

Looking to the future, it would be interesting to see Coppo take a deep-dive into more uncomfortable subjects. His newest episode, “Sharer Beware,” is a great example, in which Coppo talks with two San Diego police officers about the dangers of social media for minors. Still, the series’ title, “What’s Best For Kids” reveals another missing perspective: students. 

“The student voice is incredibly important to me and incredibly important to our school… it gets a little tricky because there are rights issues there,” Coppo said. “I want to be better at the podcast before I bring in kids.”

That said, Coppo’s aspirations are infectious. In what has been a “soul-satisfying” experience for him, Coppo hopes he can continue having conversations about education, but also about his other passions.

“In a perfect world, I’d have three podcasts, one on education, one on music and one on movies,” Coppo said. “It’d be awesome to travel around and talk to other schools, districts and educators all over the country and world.”

But no matter where his podcasting passions lead him, Coppo will always be open to having discussions, whether in his office overlooking the TPHS quad or on the air.

Read on Issuu.

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