NPR Story Lab

The NPR Story Lab is looking for great ideas. In fact, we’re an idea hub – generating new segments for our news programs, creating radio shows, and launching new podcasts. We want to collaborate with member stations and independent producers. We want to work with new talent that brings a fresh perspective to NPR. We want to keep innovating and leading in the podcast and radio world. The NPR Story Lab is a true creative studio at the heart of NPR, one that fosters experimentation and continues to evolve the sound of public radio.  

Since its inception in 2016, the NPR Story Lab has developed or acquired several series.  Here are a few examples: 

White Lies What's Good with Stretch & Bobbito

Throughline Radio Ambulante

Now Accepting Applications

NPR is currently accepting applications for new radio shows, podcasts and recurring segments for our news magazine program.  Projects can range from being in development to looking for acquisition. 

We’re searching for ideas that present new voices, explore innovative approaches, and evolve the sound of public radio.  We want projects that will appeal to younger and more diverse audiences, and that reflect NPR’s high standards of public service in journalism and cultural expression

Lean more about the NPR mission and vision here.

NPR reaches millions of listeners each week through our radio broadcasts. As platforms have evolved, so has NPR.  Listeners now engage with NPR in many new and innovative ways including podcasts, videos and photo essays. 

The NPR Story Lab wants to create the next great public radio series with you!

UPDATE: DUE TO RECENT NEWS EVENTS, WE'VE EXTENDED THE DEADLINE TO APPLY TO 11:59 PM ON SUNDAY, JANUARY 24. 

Dear Colleagues,

We are excited to announce that NPR’s Story Lab Workshop has opened for another round of applications. Over the last 5 years, the Story Lab Workshop has supported dozens of teams from across the country with direct mentorship, targeted training and partnership opportunities. NPR’s goal is to help teams create impactful audio projects, as part of NPR’s strategic plan to realize the power of our local/national network to meet the on-demand needs of our audience.

This year, we are accepting applications from NPR Member stations, independent producers and NPR staff. We are seeking submissions for ambitious podcasts, special series, and other long-form audio projects that exhibit high-impact journalism and creative storytelling.

In particular, Story Lab is looking to support NPR’s goal to attract new and diverse audiences. As NPR CEO John Lansing put it, “We embrace the responsibility and power we have to reflect the fullest truth of our diverse nation in our content, and to live up to the highest ideals of inclusion in our company.” Specifically, NPR is looking to grow Black and Latinx audiences with stories that serve listeners across the country.

Here’s the criteria that we’ll use to evaluate submissions:

  • In the spirit of public media, we’re looking for projects that expand our audiences and the communities we serve.
  • We will only consider new, original projects (not existing podcasts or second seasons).
  • We’re open to regional stories with national importance but also hyperlocal projects.
  • We’ll consider candidates’ prior experience, commitment to collaboration, and ability to participate. In particular, please let us know the resources you have so we can be sure the project is feasible.
  • Traditionally we’ve focused on narrative and investigative podcasts. Those still have preference but we are also open to news, comedy, arts and entertainment, and interview formats.
  • We will prioritize submissions that bring diverse voices and approaches to the process and are aligned with NPR’s strategic priority to grow Black and Latinx audiences.Again, we will prioritize submissions featuring racial/ethnic diversity.

A panel of NPR news managers, editors and producers, as well as representatives from AIR, will evaluate the submissions. If your team becomes a finalist, we will ask for a letter of support from your station or supervisor.

If your project is selected, participants can expect:

  • Mentorship: Your team will be paired with mentors at NPR who will be available to offer editorial guidance and connect you with resources at NPR. We thank our partners at AIR for agreeing to help mentor independent teams, if selected.
  • Online Workshop Sessions and Training: NPR will provide sessions via video conferencing on a range of topics from managing workflow to marketing and distribution.
  • Networking and Collaboration: The selected teams will meet each other and NPR staff virtually to share advice and best practices.
  • Partnership opportunities: The main purpose is providing training and support. While not guaranteed, previous partnership opportunities have included:
  • NPR partnership in producing and distributing a podcast (In 2020, we distributed Workshop podcasts Louder Than A Riot and No Compromise. In 2021, we will distribute KQED’s Unsealed (working title)).
  • Featuring a station podcast on an NPR podcast
  • Airing pieces from a podcast on NPR news magazines 

To apply, sign in or create a submittable account below and the form will appear. Applications must be completed by 11:59 pm PT on Sunday, January 24. We will let the selected teams know the week of February 15. The Workshop will take place over six months and starts in the spring.

Don’t have a project ready just yet? Story Lab will open workshop submissions again next year, so stay tuned for more opportunities.

If you have any questions, please first refer to our working FAQ document, or email storylab@npr.org. We look forward to learning more about your projects.

Thank you,

Michael May, NPR Story Lab and Argin Hutchins, NPR Training

NPR Story Lab