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Fargo 9-year-old prodigy making a mark interviewing state's biggest names

Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney greets Otis Spiess.

FARGO - Inside every child genius, there's a mind moving faster than most of us can imagine. Mozart started composing music when he was 5, John von Neumann could do long division in his head by age 6, and Picasso painted Picador at only 8 years old.

Here in Fargo, there's 9-year-old Otis Spiess. He calls himself a "MultiMedia Kid-trepreneur." Inside the classrooms of Fargo's Dakota Montessori School sits a pint-sized prodigy.

"I'm 9 years old," says Otis Spiess.

Spiess can read 100 pages in a half an hour, speak sign language, Spanish and mandarin, and even do algebra.

"I guess what we've really tried to do is not hold him back," says Jason Spiess, his father.


"It's pretty fun. I like writing. I'm actually writing a novel," Otis says.

But his real passion is reporting.

"I do like a weekly podcast," Otis says.

His father says Otis has been podcasting for less than three months and he's already got more than 30 radio stations.

"And now I like it, except having to wear this suit," Otis says.

He's traveled the state and squeezed between reporters. He's found out that credentials are important.

"Media passes, they open doors," Otis says.

Among his interviewees, they include North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger, Roger Johnson... I've interviewed Heidi Heitkamp and John Hoeven.


"They're completely shocked for a variety of reasons. One: He's a small kid in a suit, and he's got long hair," Jason Spiess says.

Hoeven, a Republican senator from North Dakota, says "Otis is a great young reporter."

He's even on a first-name basis with Hoeven.

"And he's a great example of our young people and really he's very entrepreneurial. He's striking out on his own," Hoeven says.

Now, with some practice and help from Mom and Dad, he's heading to Fargo City Hall to interview the mayor.

He asks the hard-hitting questions about money, capitalism, and philanthropy, and never lets his nerves get in the way.

"I don't think he understands fear, so as long as he doesn't understand fear, we're going to really enable that," Jason Spiess says.

Otis is part of a local educational group called Kids and Capitalism.


He also works at a Fargo video store, and is saving up for an Xbox.

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