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Ready, Set, Record! BPR Offers Tips For Student Podcasters

Student Podcast Challenge illustration
Illustration by Cass Herrington
BPR News

Welcome to the 2021 NPR Student Podcast Challenge! Blue Ridge Public Radio is inviting students grades 5-12 from across Western North Carolina to submit their podcasts to be shared with BPR’s listeners, and possibly, a national audience.  

We’re here to answer your questions and help facilitate hands-on classroom learning that teachers can incorporate into their lesson plans. Think of us as your friendly neighborhood radio nerds, ready to answer any questions that come up along the way.  

You can get in touch right away by emailing us or sending a voice memo with your question to voices@bpr.org. Meantime, here are a few essentials to help you get started:  


How does this even work?

Students can create a podcast as an individual, with a partner, or group -- class or team! The podcast must be submitted by a teacher or, if you’re homeschooled, a parent or after-school coordinator. The deadline to enter is March 15. Learn more about how to get started, and see official rules and submission guidelines can be found here.  


What makes a good podcast?

We recommend talking about what you know or are curious about. The topic, format, and sound is all up to you. We know from experience that when audio content is presented with passion and reflection, it makes others think and feel. This can be funny, sad, scary, enlightening.  If you’re interested in the topic, your audience will be captivated too. A good podcast has soul, so let your personality and passion shine! The only limitation is time -- entries must be no longer than eight minutes. Here are some resources for students, and more for teachers

I don’t have professional equipment. What can I do?

No need. If you have access to a smartphone, the phone’s built-in recording app will do the trick! You can hold the phone up to yourself -- or use it to interview someone else. We recommend holding the phone just a few inches away from the speaker’s mouth. Here are some more resources about using your phone to record and apps for editing. 

What are some podcasts I can listen to for ideas?

Glad you asked! Here are a few of our favorites from past student podcast challenges:  


  • "What is it like being trans?," Stellan Pello, sixth grade. This entry touched my heart -- Stellan was 12 when he produced this piece, and he presents his personal transition story as a learning opportunity for those who may not undestand what it means to be transgender. It's thoughtful, honest, and patient. He's also from my hometown of Louisville, KY! 
  • "Tater Tots and their Lasting Impact on Society," Jack Lazzarone and Kalvin Martinez, fifth grade. I love how these students chose an off-the wall topic and gave it the journalistic treatment. They even interviewed a spokesperson from Ore-Ida! It's also guaranteed to make you smile, we could all use more of that. 
  •  "Gangs in Chicago," Ivana Diaz, 11th grade. Diaz discusses her experience growing up with a brother who is a part of a gang. It's a personal narrative and a plea to youth not to get involved in gangs. "I want people to open their eyes...The gang is just here to ruin your life and the lives of people around you," Diaz said. It's honest and deeply moving. 

Again, feel free to reach out with any questions voices@bpr.org. We can’t wait to hear from you.  

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