Alison MacAdam

was a Senior Editorial Specialist with the NPR Training team, where she focused on audio storytelling. Prior to that, she edited All Things Considered.

Want razor-sharp focus in your audio stories? This group activity can help

All you need is a story idea, an open mind and some friends.

Want to start a podcast? Read this first

Use these prompts and quick tips to get your creative process started.

The journey from print to radio storytelling: A guide for navigating a new landscape

Print and audio journalism exist in the same world — but the terrain is different. Let this serve as your map.

You asked: How can I get better at standups?

Doing great “stand-ups” requires thinking beyond the clichéd “I’m standing here…” approach.

What makes a good pitch? NPR editors weigh in

Pitching is hard. We compiled the best tips for getting to “yes” — and some common pet peeves — from NPR editors.

Radio intros: 5 examples of success

A good radio hooks your audience. Here are five examples of great intros — and why they work.

Beyond the 5 W’s: What should you ask before starting a story?

Print this poster, which has the six questions you should ask before starting a story.

How audio stories begin

At this hyper-competitive moment in audio, it’s essential to grab listeners at the very beginning of a story. But how do you do it?

The audio editor’s resource: Tips for shaping great stories

Editing is a specialized craft in itself. This post compiles NPR Training’s tips and tricks to help audio editors guide and elevate stories.

Reporter two-ways: Improvisation within a structure

For many radio reporters — even some of the most experienced ones — the prospect of talking on-air with a host can be daunting.

Six ways to run a listening session

Helping people listen critically to stories requires more than simply pushing “play.”

How Joe Richman makes ‘Radio Diaries’

Joe Richman gives tape recorders to “ordinary” people and works with them to tell stories about their own lives.

How to edit with your ears

If you haven’t listened to a story and all of its sonic elements, you haven’t edited it.

6 NPR stories that breathe life into neighborhood scenes

Transcend scene-setting clichés. Here is a sampling of ways NPR journalists have done just that.

The fundamentals of field reporting with NPR’s Howard Berkes

Wind. Hotel rooms. Riding a luge sled. Prepare yourself for recording in the field under all kinds of conditions.

A guide for gathering vox for NPR — and doing it quickly

This is a printable and shareable guide to vox-gathering for NPR.

Active sound: How to find it, record it and use it

Active sound makes an audio story sparkle. It is sound that isn’t stuck in the background. It’s up-front. It shows character and action. Here’s how to capture it.

NPR’s Korva Coleman: Newscasts without panic

The NPR anchor’s guidance works for any public radio newscaster, in big markets and small. 

Pitching to NPR? Our bureau chiefs share their process

From pitch to production: Here’s a look at how NPR bureau chiefs take stories through the process.

‘Butt cut what?’ A glossary of audio production terms and definitions

This is the technical lingo you need to know as an audio producer (or someone who talks to audio producers).

What NPR One can teach us about radio intros

The listening app holds lessons — both positive and negative — for intro writers.

Vocabulary for an audio editor: 15 things to say … over and over …

Editors, try these questions and suggestions when working with your reporters.

How NPR’s Carrie Johnson found her radio voice

For this correspondent, learning to write for radio required a special style of script-writing.

On deadline? Follow these tips to get on the air fast

Among these tips: Have “booty call” sources: They are always available and they know what you need.

How to use sound to make a news spot pop

Robert Garcia, executive producer of NPR’s Newscast Unit, shares examples of stand-out news spots and why they work.

Understanding story structure with the ‘Three Little Pigs’

In laying out a piece, the reporter should look for a story structure that keeps the listener paying attention.

Exercise: Imagining your story

Plan a story before going out to report it. Sounds counterintuitive, right?

Dissecting a good radio story

See an actual script, complete with margin comments, from NPR host Ailsa Chang.

What does a radio script look like?

Not every broadcast radio script looks the same! But there are elements every script should share. And here they are.

Radio 101: The life of a story from concept to air

If you are new to radio, this post should help demystify the process. The first step may be the hardest: finding the story.

How a long audio story is different from a short one

Longer pieces are not just stretched-out short pieces. If you’re going to keep people listening to you, you’ve got to work harder!

Radio intros

Radio intros: 7 engagement tips to keep listeners from hitting the skip button

Intros are the most important feature of your story — here’s how to write one.

A day in the life of ‘All Things Considered’

Back in 2012, ‘All Things Considered’ host Melissa Block and producer Melissa Gray made this story about their own show.

How NPR’s Sam Sanders is finding his voice

Is there a typical public radio voice — perhaps a “white” voice? Is there room for new and different ways of speaking?

‘Would you say it that way?’ Tips on writing for your voice

Why is it so hard to write how we talk? Here are some essentials tips to capture the human voice in your radio writing.

From pitch to story: These 32 questions can help editors guide reporters

This checklist of questions will make your reporter’s story better — and editing it easier.

‘Once upon a time’ and other devices for starting your story

Every story has its own style of adventure. Here are different ways to take listeners on a journey.