WNYC Podcast Accelerator Rules


The Accelerator is open to anyone 18 years of age and older who is able to attend the Online News Association 2015 in Los Angeles, California, and who is NOT a current employee of New York Public Radio, their immediate family members, or anyone living in their household. You can submit individually or as a group. Familiarity with audio equipment isn’t required but is recommended.


Submit an application here by July 15, 2015, at 11:59 ET. You must answer the following 6 questions, and include a work sample. Each answer must be no longer than 200 words, and incomplete applications will not be considered:

1. What’s the one-line elevator pitch?

2. Who is the intended audience? Be as specific as possible—when you picture a listener, who is she? What does he do for a living? When is she listening and how is she first discovering it? What other media does he consume?

3. What are the main features or elements of the show? In other words, how many segments? Guests or reported? How many voices? Is there a host? And if so, describe him or her? Is it a real person? Is it Cher?

4. What does the show sound and feel like?

5. What are the comparable shows? Where do you see the overlapping audience? What shows have inspired this idea?

6. What experiences and skills do you bring to the project?

7. Please submit a sample of your work, and if you’re suggesting a host, a sample of his/her work, too. Samples can take any form, including text, video or audio.



A committee of WNYC staff will pick five finalists to advance to the live competition on September 25, 2015, at the Online News Association in Los Angeles. Finalists will be notified via email the week of August 4. If a finalist doesn’t confirm participation within 48 hours, the offer will be nullified and an alternate will be chosen. A grand prize winner will be chosen at the live event by a panel of judges comprised of WNYC staff.

WNYC is the producer of national, chart-topping podcasts including Radiolab and Freakonomics, and is also the largest public radio station in the country. Based in New York, we represent a city at the frontline of an evolving America. Hundreds of languages, sounds and flavors make up New York City -- across a huge swath of cultures. WNYC’s content reflects this diversity of people and ideas. As such, all eligible submissions will be evaluated on the following five criteria:

1) Creativity: Provokes honest, surprising and even uncomfortable conversations.

2) Diversity: Introduces listeners to people and/or ideas they haven’t heard before.

3) Originality: Does not duplicate something already in our feeds. Surprise us!

4) Durability: Can be reproduced for at least 5 episodes. 

5) Viability: Has potential to reach large audiences and deeply engage them.



Each finalist will receive a complimentary ONA badge, valued at $500. If a finalist is a group, the group will still only receive one badge. Finalists are responsible for their own travel and lodging to and from ONA. Finalists also receive virtual mentoring (over email, Skype, etc.), in which WNYC producers will help you hone your pitch, including but not limited to, story lines, character development, sound, texture, voice. In addition, you’ll have two virtual meetups to share ideas and progress with fellow finalists, ONA’s digital director and a WNYC producer.

One grand prize winner will get one episode of his/her show produced by WNYC. That includes use of our New York studios, and production and engineering assistance. It does not include travel costs to New York or elsewhere. It also doesn’t include broadcast or other distribution. The total value of this prize is valued at an estimated $10,000.



By participating in WNYC’s Podcast Accelerator, participants agree to the official rules, and that NYPR, its agents and employees will have no liability whatsoever for any injuries, losses, or damages of any kind resulting from their use or participation in the call for performances. Prize is nontransferable and cannot be exchanged for cash. There can be no substitutions for a prize of equal or greater value.

Copyright for the entries will remain solely with the applicants, though applicants acknowledge that there may be multiple submissions that are similar in nature. By entering, you are giving New York Public Radio permission to use your entry online and in the ONA conference venue. Each entrant (including all members of each entrant that is a group) grants permission to NYPR and those acting under its authority to use his/her name, photograph, voice and/or likeness, for advertising and/or publicity purposes, as well as all submissions and performances in any and all media now known or hereinafter invented without territorial or time limitations and without compensation.

In addition, finalists agree that during the mentoring period ending September 18, 2015, you will work exclusively with NYPR on your podcast idea and you will not discuss your idea or those of other finalists with any other producers or production organizations. You also agree to give NYPR an exclusive 90-day option upon the September 25th conclusion of the Accelerator, to negotiate a production agreement for your podcast. The grand prize winner further agrees to extend this to 90 days after the completion of the production of the episode.


RESTRICTIONS: Restrictions may apply. By participating in the WNYC Podcast Accelerator, you agree to be bound by these official rules, and by all decisions of New York Public Radio staff and contest judges.


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