Our Third Annual Student Podcast Contest

Our Third Annual Student Podcast Contest

Imagine yourself — or, perhaps, you and your friends — as hosts of your own podcast. What would you talk about?

Maybe you’d tell a story, perhaps about a childhood memory, an experience that changed your life, or a bad romance. Or maybe you’d rather interview guests about a topic you’re exploring, whether a news-related issue like gun violence or gender roles, or a hobby, passion or concern of your own? Or, maybe you’d just like to have a conversation — about pop culture, sports, food, fashion, technology, politics, or, if you’re stuck, any of these 1,000-plus topics we’ve rounded up to inspire you.

In Our Third Annual Podcast Challenge, we invite teenagers to submit original work, of five minutes or less. Our favorites will then be featured on The Learning Network.

Please note: We will update this page with more detailed rules and a submission form on or before April 9, 2020, the date when this contest officially opens.

Until then, here are useful resources so teachers and students can begin planning for this contest:

• Our 2019 and 2018 winners, runners-up and honorable mentions (a 2019 winning podcast is featured above)
• Our lesson plan “Project Audio: Teaching Students How to Produce Their Own Podcasts
A link to add this contest to your Google calendar
• Our contest rubric

If you have any questions about this contest, please contact us at LNFeedback@nytimes.com.


1. Podcasts must be five minutes or less. Please check the length of your audio file.

2. Your podcast must include a beginning, middle and end to produce a complete listening experience. Beginnings often draw the listener in or provide context. Endings often offer a summary, raise a question or act as a teaser for the next segment.

3. Your submission can be an excerpt from a longer podcast, as long as you demonstrate thoughtfulness about how you are using time. An end can be a hard “end” of a podcast, but it can also be the end of a segment, or even the end of an introduction within a longer episode.

4. Use any podcast format or genre. Popular podcast formats include, but are not limited to, interviews, conversations, nonfiction storytelling and fiction storytelling. Popular podcast genres include, but are not limited to, comedy, true crime, news documentary, history, radio theater and sports.

5. Create your podcast by yourself or with a group. If you are working as a team, just remember to submit all your names when you post your entry. But please submit only one podcast per student. If you’re submitting as part of a team, you should not also submit as an individual.

6. Use appropriate language. Assume your listeners are New York Times readers.

7. Be sure to use non-copyrighted sound effects or music, with some exceptions. You cannot use copyrighted sound effects or music for the sole purpose of making your podcast sound better. Instead, you can find royalty-free music and sound effects on Bensound or Freesound, or by doing a web search for royalty-free files. Or you can use audio editing software to create your own music or sound effects. However, there are limited fair use exceptions when you can legally use copyrighted work, such as when you are critiquing a song or reporting on a film. Read more about those exceptions if you think your use of copyrighted material does not infringe on copyright protections.

8. Upload your podcast to a third-party site so our judges can listen. Choose a host for your podcast. Many free options exist, such as SoundCloud (by far the most popular host used in previous contests), Buzzsprout, Podomatic and Spreaker. Make sure the privacy settings are set to public, so our judges can listen.

9. What is the “prize”? Having your work published on The Learning Network.

10. Submissions must be from middle and high school students. We are still determining what the minimum age will be. Please stay tuned.

11. The children and stepchildren of New York Times employees, or teenagers who live in the same household as a Times employee, are not eligible to enter this contest.