HUNTINGTON - In the town of Splendid, West Virginia, there is a university. Employed at that university is a science professor. If you ask him, he would tell you his experiments have nothing to do with strange occurrences in Splendid - like children with superpowers and the ability to time travel - but yet, he loves to tell stories of these occurrences and locals feel he might just not be telling the truth.
If you haven't heard of Splendid, it's because you aren't listening to Huntington father/son duo Jonathan and Levi Joy's podcast, "Professor Theo's Mystery Lab."
Based on the "Read Me a Bedtime Story" column Jonathan Joy writes for the Greater Ashland Beacon, the podcast tells the tale of the fictional town of Splendid and all the zany events that take place, possibly due to Professor Theo.
Levi, a fourth-grader at Central City Elementary School, helps his dad write and edit the podcast, and he also voices the part of kid superhero Buck Travers, a central character. In fact, episode 38 is voiced entirely by Levi. Mom Rissie also gets in on the fun.
"It's fun," Jonathan Joy said. "We have a lot of fun. We have imaginations. It's fun playtime together, and it's cool and different to work on it together. It's a cool creative outlet. Part writing, part theater, part radio - a lot of things we are interested in all in one."
The idea to put his column in podcast form came from local celebrity podcaster and friend Justin McElroy, who then helped Jonathan Joy as he figured out the new medium last year.
"A year ago, I didn't know anything about podcasting," he said. "I write, teach and (do) theater, but creating something new from scratch was really cool. Figuring out how all this works - recording, editing, promoting it - Justin was a big help to me taking on this new skill set. I enjoy the process and sharing it with Levi. He listens to each episode and helps me edit."
Jonathan Joy said his favorite story line right now follows Max and Tanner as they quantum leap from video game to video game chasing Mr. X, who wants to destroy all technology.
Levi said that is also one of his favorites, but he likes them all. What he likes best, he said, is that it's theirs.
Episode 40 is in the works right now, and while the initial goal was to do 50, Levi has upped it to 100, and his dad thinks they can easily get there.
The show gets about 500-600 downloads a week, with many families tuning in. It hit iTunes Kids and Family charts in Italy, Norway, the Philippines, Great Britain and the United States. The podcast also recently joined Huntington's Open to All campaign.
Join the Joy family in their fictional world of Professor Theo's Mystery Lab on iTunes or 10 other listening platforms including Spotify, Pocket Casts, iHeartRadio, and more, or just go to ProfessorTheo.com.