How can I make my podcast stand out?

We are mainly looking for thoughtful pieces with a clear beginning, middle and end. Here are some tips to get your podcast noticed by our judges:

  • Pick a topic that matters to you. Not only will your passion sustain you during the creative process, it will shine through in the final product. Remember, though, that you only have five minutes, so be sure to pick something you can do justice to in that amount of time. For example, you probably won’t be able to tackle all of climate change, but you can focus on a small aspect of it, like food waste in your community.

  • Use a format that brings your subject to life. Ask yourself: What is the best way to tell this story? Is it appropriate to tell the story from your own perspective or should you conduct interviews? Does it make sense for the podcast to have a rigid structure, or should it be more of a free-flowing conversation? Should it be a non-fiction story or could a fictional story be more entertaining or meaningful?

  • To prepare. Before recording your podcast, create an outline or script. Having a plan will help you both make the most of your five minutes and make it easier for your listener to follow through.

  • Make sure your audio is clear. You don’t need high-quality recording equipment to create a great podcast, but be sure to speak clearly and eliminate as much background noise as possible.

  • Use sound thoughtfully and intentionally. Speech, music, sound effects and ambient noise can all contribute to a compelling listening experience. Think about how you could use them strategically to provide context, create structure for your podcast, and engage your listeners’ emotions.

How do I find a topic for my podcast?

Your podcast can be about anything. For ideas, start by browsing our list of 1,000 writing questions, which includes questions on everything from video games and fashion to smartphones and parenthood. Try answering a few prompts that interest you. Then you can choose one that you enjoyed writing about as inspiration for your podcast.

If you’re considering sharing a personal story, take a look at these prompts for personal and narrative writing. If you want to state an opinion or start a debate, check out this list of argumentative writing prompts.

Can someone else produce or edit my work?

You are welcome to receive comments and suggestions for your podcast, but the work you submit, including editing and production, should be fundamentally yours.

Where can I find sample podcasts in The Times?

You can find all New York Times podcasts in the Podcast column. Here are some of our favorites:

  • “The Daily”, a 20-minute morning news program fueled by New York Times journalism.

  • “Still Processing,” a weekly show about everything culture, from TV and music to dating and the internet.

  • “Modern Love”, stories that explore the complicated love lives of real people.

  • “Popcast,” a podcast from The Times’ pop music team about music news, new songs and albums, and big-name artists.

But remember, you’re not limited to The Times for inspiration. You can find more podcast recommendations in the Arts section, like this list of suggestions from 36 podcast personalities.

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JUDGMENT QUESTIONS

How will my podcast be judged?

Your work will be heard by producers and reporters on The New York Times podcast team as well as The Learning Network staff members, professional podcasters, and educators across the United States. We will use this rubric to judge the entries.

What is the price ?

Get your work published on The Learning Network.

When will the winners be announced?

About two months after the contest closed.

My podcast was not selected as a winner. Can you tell me why?