Meet Our Neighbors: Zoe Steckler

Learn more about Zoe Steckler, Research Coordinator for 9 Story Media Group. Zoe works with children and tests new episodes of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood!

Tell us about yourself and how your career lead you to working in television?

My first job was as a summer camp counselor in Berkeley, CA, and since then I've known that I wanted my career to be about making kids' lives better in some way. I majored in Child Development at Tufts University, and when I discovered the world of children's media, I realized that it was a perfect blend of my interests. After interning at GBH in Boston and working on digital kids content there, I moved to NYC and have been working with the research team at 9 Story ever since.

What goes into your role as a research coordinator for Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood?

Research for Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is a lot of fun, because a lot of the kids that we are testing new episodes with are already familiar with, and love, the show. We test each episode with kids to make sure they are as appealing and engaging as possible. As the Research Coordinator, it's my job to turn a draft of a script into a storybook. I work with an artist to create pictures specifically for our research purposes. The storybook includes lots of questions that we ask the kids before, during, and after the story to gauge their comprehension of the content. Pre-Covid, we used to visit preschools all around New York City, but we now do all of our research sessions on Zoom. My role also involves recruiting children to participate in the sessions. One benefit of Zoom is that we now can have kids from across the country join! During the sessions, either I or another researcher reads the story to a small group of kids. Other researchers observe the sessions, and take notes on everything: what the kids said, when they sang along with the strategy songs, when they smiled or leaned in, when they got fidgety, etc. We then relay our findings to the Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood writers and producers and collaborate to enhance each episode based on what we saw from the kids.

What was your favorite TV show when you were growing up?

Dragon Tales! My sister and I watched it religiously. I remember it being such an aspirational and magical show, which we loved. We must have watched it over and over, because I can still remember many plot points so clearly (like when Zak and Wheezie, the conjoined twins, separated!).

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

In the past few years, I've gotten very into crossword puzzles, and now solving the daily New York Times puzzle is a cherished part of my routine. I also love cooking and am excited to experiment with my new food processor!