NPR Training
Storytelling tips and best practices

Apply for the next NPR Story Lab workshop

Note: Applications for the next NPR Story Lab workshop have closed. 

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On June 1-3, 2016, 12 public radio teams descended on NPR HQ for the inaugural NPR Audio Storytelling Workshop. (Photo by Becky Lettenberger/NPR)

Have an idea for an audio storytelling project that will break traditional formats and reach new audiences? A podcast? A radio series? An investigation?

We are now accepting applications for the NPR Story Lab workshop. If chosen, you’ll be invited to NPR HQ in Washington, D.C., to work on the idea. You’ll participate in three days of training, brainstorming, project planning and networking. You’ll also be considered for a piloting agreement with the NPR Story Lab. Any teams selected for a piloting agreement will receive additional support and up to $10,000 to help develop the project.

This will mark the second NPR Story Lab workshop (formerly the Audio Storytelling Workshop). The first workshop took place in June 2016 and brought together over 30 public media creators and their ideas. Three of those teams received $10,000 each from the NPR Story Lab. 

Workshop: March 1-3, 2017
Application deadline: November 16, 2016 at 11:59 ET
Cost: If your team is selected, the NPR Story Lab will pay for hotel and food. Participants who demonstrate need may also, at NPR’s discretion, have their travel expenses covered. The workshop is free.

Interested? Here are more details

  • The workshop is open to both member station and independent producer teams
  • We’re partnering with AIR to solicit ideas from the best independent producers
  • Following the workshop, the NPR Story Lab may offer piloting agreements to up to three teams, which provide for additional support and up to $10,000 to help develop the projects. Piloting agreements are offered at NPR’s sole discretion when NPR believes the project merits further development and audience testing at that time

Read this before applying

Here are some project guidelines you should consider before applying (you can also take a look at the projects from the last workshop).

  • Audio-centric: At its core, your idea is an audio storytelling project
  • Focus: The idea is well-defined — the more specific, the better
  • Purpose: It’s meaningful to the audience(s) you want to reach
  • Diverse and distinct: It tackles new topics, seeks new audiences, experiments with new formats and takes listeners to new places
  • Teams: It’s a group effort (the application must be filled out in teams of 2-3). We encourage teams that are diverse in skills and background
  • Support (for station-affiliated teams): It has station leadership support to execute the project after the workshop

More details about the workshop

The workshop is a three-day program designed and run by NPR Training, a team dedicated to elevating the quality of public media storytelling. Each team is paired with a public media mentor to shape their ideas. There is brainstorming, training (on everything from story structure to scoring to human-centered design), project planning and many opportunities to connect with other public media people. On the last day, each group presents its project to an audience from NPR and AIR.

Often times the hardest part of a project is knowing where to start. The goal of the workshop is to move participants from idea phase to execution — when the workshop ends, they should have everything they need to get started. After participants launch their project, the NPR Story Lab can help them find the right ways to share, promote and distribute their projects.

Ready to apply?

Applications have closed. We will announce the selected teams by December 16, 2016.


If you have questions, please contact

Scenes from the workshop

The Story Lab workshop could be a transformational experience for your team. Below are some highlights from the 2016 session:

About the NPR Story Lab

The NPR Story Lab is an idea hub where we will generate new segments for the news programs, create pilots for radio shows, launch new podcasts, and introduce new voices to the network. The aim is to strengthen our ability to support innovation across all of NPR’s programming, increase collaboration with member stations, and connect with great producers and talent outside of public media. Led by a core group of leaders from across NPR’s content divisions, including Programming, News, NPR One and NPR Training, we will ensure that the right ideas connect with the right platform and audience.  

We want the NPR Story Lab to act as a true creative studio at the heart of NPR — one that fosters experimentation and continues to evolve the sound of the network. We look forward to hearing your ideas.