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Sound Advice: The NPR guide to student podcasting

Photo Illustration by Becky Harlan/NPR

Capturing a memory, recording your loved one's story in their own voice or sharing something new you've learned – podcasting can serve as a vehicle for all these goals and more. And, of course, it can be a lot of fun, too!

Over the last five years, as part of our annual Student Podcast Challenge, we here at the Education team at NPR have created and gathered resources to help students and teachers produce their own podcasts, and in return, we've received thousands of entries every year.

While many of these resources were created for our audience of students, teachers, educators and parents, it's a great place to start for anyone who wants to make their own podcast! So if that's you, here's a collection of tips & tricks from our very own NPR producers.

Good luck!


Here you'll find a breakdown of podcasting and a series of sample lesson plans to ensure that students have the skills and background knowledge to start making a podcast.

For our contest, teachers must submit entries to NPR, but we expect that students themselves are the ones creating them. (Teachers: The submission form is here!)


Student podcasters, we don't expect you to be experts! In fact, we expect that most of you are putting together a podcast for the first time.

And even though this is a contest, it's also about learning new skills in a fun way. We want to make that easier, so we've put together this guide to help you with planning, recording, editing audio, using music and so much more.


As the NPR Student Podcast Challenge kicks off its second year, here's a short video guide to making your podcast sound great. A good way to start? Build a pillow fort! Don Gonyea, a veteran NPR correspondent who's filed stories from all over the world, shows us how.

So you've got a great idea for your podcast. You've written up the questions, shaped an outline, lined up your interviews. Now comes the big challenge that can turn a good podcast into a winning entry: gathering great sound. Here are our best tips for gathering great sound and making your podcast sound awesome.

Speaking into a microphone is hard — even for radio veterans at NPR. In this video, voice coach Jessica Hansen and NPR's Training team share a few vocal exercises that will help you sound more natural in front of a mic.



NPR's Student Podcast Challenge, for grades five through 12*, is open for entries and will close on April 28, 2023. Our judges will select one middle and one high school grand prize winner. This year, we're also introducing a new thematic award for the best mental health podcast.

You can submit your work here. Before you get started, we strongly recommend you read over the following pages:

2023 Contest Announcement

Here's a rundown of this year's contest rules, key dates and resources.

Official rules

Please check out our rules page before starting your podcast or submitting your work!

Submission Guidelines

Got questions? Check out our FAQ page! For any additional questions, please reach out to studentpodcastchallenge@npr.org.

*Note: Our college contest will return in fall of 2023.

Wed production by: Janet Woojeong Lee
Visual design and development by: LA Johnson
Edited by: Steve Drummond

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Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.