Franciscan alumni make children’s show to counter toxic media

Maggie McCarron
Staff Writer

It’s not hard to notice the complete turnaround that children’s media has taken recently. Cartoons all seem to have a negative underlying message or include inappropriate themes that aren’t suitable for children. But two alumni of Franciscan University of Steubenville didn’t just notice this digression of children’s media; they decided to do something to fix it.

Rob Reynolds, who graduated the university in 2004, and Shevin McCullough, who graduated in 2003, created a new children’s show that aims specifically to solve the problems in modern children’s media. They call it “Studio 3:16.”

The mission of the show is to educate and entertain children in a safe and fun way. On the Studio 3:16 website, it states, “It’s just the beginning of our goal to enrich the lives of viewers and lead kids on a journey to imitate Christ through a foundation of virtues, faith and truth.”

Reynolds and McCullough decided they wanted to create an entertaining and secure place to see Christ’s words in action. They said they wanted to inspire children through scripture, which is why throughout the show, every episode connects to a certain Sunday Gospel.

However, it took a long time for the former Franciscan students to get to the point where they are now with their Catholic show.

Reynolds grew up in New York in a Catholic family, and went to Catholic grade school. While he did grow up with solid family values, he never truly knew God until he came to Franciscan. Franciscan’s students and their relationship with God helped him grow.

“It helped me feel like I was not alone,” Reynolds said.

McCullough, on the other hand, grew up in Steubenville. “My family was one of those ‘spiritual but not religious’ ones,” McCullough said. As his grandmother’s primary caretaker, he had to go to school close to home. At Franciscan, he also grew in his faith because of the people and the sense of community.

While at Franciscan, McCullough said he looked up to Reynolds. For a few years after graduating, the two went their separate ways before reuniting at a company started by Reynold’s brother.

Reynolds and McCullough both worked in real estate in Florida and planned to retire there. However, Reynolds said he had always felt a call to ministry that he had never filled. Finally, while his kids were watching “Mr. Rogers,” Reynolds’ wife suggested that he and McCullough could make something like that.

“God speaks through your spouses,” Reynolds said. “God makes you and your spouse one in the sacrament of marriage, so I didn’t ignore that.”

Reynolds said it just seemed like a fun idea, but it never really took off. But when he went on a silent retreat, he felt a call to leave his company.

When McCullough finally had his encounter, he said he spent the whole plane ride thinking about it. He said, “I felt God calling me to lead and help people with this children’s show. That call lasted the entire flight.”

Reynolds said, “As a teacher for seven years and now a father of seven, I know the challenge that parents have in what their kids can watch.”

Reynolds and McCullough believe that parents should not have to worry about what their children are seeing, whether it is just ads or the actual content directed at them.

The plot of the show follows McCullough, who portrays a “high-spirited yet misguided Christian recording artist” who leads kids to “follow his journey to understand the gospel,” according to the 3:16 website.

Directed mostly toward children ages 7-12, the show has about eighteen episodes in a season, each episode being able to stand alone for kids to enjoy in an easier way.

The show is only available on the website, Reynolds and McCullough do not want to risk showing children inappropriate ads, so it is completely free with an account.

Both creators of the show want to educate children through scripture and have a part in bringing them closer to God.

“We just want to inspire kids to have a deeper relationship with God,” Reynolds said.