2021 Student Podcast Challenge

Feb 11, 2021

It's that time of year! New semester, new assignments, new Student Podcast Challenge. Yep, NPR's Student Podcast Challenge is back for its third year, and it is open for submissions and WUKY will once again be hosting local schools for brainstorming sessions and “how-to” advice on getting started with podcasts.  The Challenge is aimed at students between grades 5 and 12, and NPR Ed will provide a series of suggested prompts and a guide for student podcasters and their teachers. NPR’s hope is to generate a lot of excellent material from around the country, as well as, as a chance to add youth voices into the national conversation.  The deadline for submissions is March 15th.  

Last year five Lexington area schools brought students to the WUKY studios to learn the ins and outs of podcasting from our news director Alan Lytle and reporter Arlo Barnette. One group -- from Woodford County Middle School -- won an Honorable Mention from NPR. Because of COVID restrictions we can't have students in our studios, so we're doing the next best thing by coming to them via Zoom on Thursday January 21 from 10 am to noon. Instructors who are interested in having their students participate live or watch the archive version of the session should contact WUKY’s General Manager, Tom Godell, before January 20 at tom.godell@uky.edu

“This is a tremendous opportunity for young people to learn about podcasting, interviewing, journalism, and editing from seasoned, award-winning professionals at WUKY,” Godell said. “And we look forward to seeing more Central Kentucky schools receive recognition from NPR in the spring!”

We know you have stories to tell.  Tell about your life, or something you're passionate about — like tater tots. You could investigate a hometown mystery, or write a radio drama and direct a dramatic reading with friends. The world is your oyster!

Last year, despite a massive disruption to the school year amid the global pandemic, the Student Podcast Challenge brought in thousands of podcasts from high school and middle school students in 46 states and the District of Columbia.

This year, the basics are pretty much the same: Students will create a podcast about a topic they want to explore — and that can be just about anything.

There are some rules to keep in mind: Only students in grades 5-12 are eligible to enter, and a teacher, or after-school program coordinator, or parent or anyone over the age of 18 has to be the one to submit the podcast.

One big change this year: The maximum length of your podcast will be eight minutes. It has been found, after listening to a lot of podcasts, that shorter is better. Plus that's how long we get to tell our stories at NPR!

NPR has a host of training materialsguides for sound recording and audio production, what you can — and can't — do with music, lists of do's and don'ts, and we even made a podcast about making a good podcast!

The Students' Podcast is in its second season with new episodes every Sunday. This year NPR is sharing advice from some students who are already pretty good at podcasting — so good, in fact, that they were finalists in last year's challenge. Listen to the new episodes on storytellinginterviewing and how to deal with sensitive topics.

The NPR Student Podcast Challenge is now open for submissions and will close on March 15. The SPC: College Edition opened in December and runs until February 15.

Make sure to sign up for our newsletter with more tips and advice, here! And follow the Challenge on twitter @NPR_Ed

Ready, set, record!