NPR Expands Story Lab Into Creative Studio, Funds Three Pilots

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On June 1-3, 2016, 12 public radio teams descended on NPR HQ for the inaugural NPR Audio Storytelling Workshop (<a href="">#nprasw</a>). The teams took part in three days of brainstorming, training, planning and networking. At the end of the workshop, each team presented before an NPR audience.

The NPR Story Lab started in June 2015, as an internal incubator for new ideas and experiments in the newsroom. Now we are expanding its scope, giving the NPR Story Lab additional infrastructure and resources. 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. It 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. It will ensure that the right ideas connect with the right platform and audience.

The NPR Story Lab is led by a core group of leaders from across NPR's content divisions, including Programming, News, NPR One and NPR Training — it will break down walls between radio shows, podcasts, digital, video and news feature reporting.

The NPR Story Lab will make it easier to pitch an idea to NPR; it will be the first point of contact for pitches, with an online hub and submission process coming this fall.

As part of its mission, the NPR Story Lab will also be investing in training, audio workshops and meet-ups. This past spring, NPR hosted more than 30 producers, most of them from Member stations, in Washington for a three-day audio workshop. Three of those projects have been selected to get further funding from NPR to launch their pilots:

  • Drugged: A podcast about how the drugs we take change our bodies and our world. Cohosted by Lauren Silverman (KERA, Dallas TX) and Seema Yasmin (Dallas Morning News). This podcast is in partnership with KERA.
  • Do Over: A podcast about your alternate timeline. Cohosted by Kelly Jones and Chioke I'Anson, produced by Claire Tacon.
  • The Stoop: A podcast telling stories about black identity that aren't always shared in the open. It's like a griot, newsroom, hair salon and your mama's kitchen all in one. The team is comprised of KALW (San Francisco, CA) staff including co-hosts Leila Day and Hana Baba, and editor Julie Caine.

The next NPR Story Lab workshop will take place March 2017, the application is open now and we are encouraging Member stations' teams to apply. Once again, we're partnering with AIR (Association of Independents in Radio) to solicit ideas from the best independent producers.

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.

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