The New York Times Launches Fourth Edition Of Annual Student Podcast Contest

We invite middle and high schoolers to create an original podcast of five minutes or less that informs or entertains. Contest dates: April 8 to May 18.

Four student winners describe how they used our podcast contest to tell stories that matter to them. PLAY VIDEO 03:06
Audio Storytelling With Winners of Our Student Podcast Contest
Four student winners describe how they used our podcast contest to tell stories that matter to them.March 18, 2021
By The Learning Network
March 18, 2021
Note: Register for our live webinar on March 25 about teaching with this podcast contest.

Do you listen to podcasts to find out what’s happening throughout the world? Or do you tune in to learn about sports, music or films — or simply to be entertained? Do you prefer shows with one host or multiple hosts? Are you interested in series that tell a story over many episodes, or shows that explore a new issue or interview a different guest each week?

Imagine you — or you and several of your friends — are behind the microphone. What would you talk about? What format would you use? What would be your unique podcast voice and angle?

In our Fourth Annual Podcast Contest, we invite teenagers to submit original podcasts of five minutes or less. Your creation can be about anything that interests you, in any form that you like. Our favorites will be featured on The Learning Network.

Take a look at the guidelines and related resources below. Please post any questions you have in the comments and we’ll answer you there, or write to us at And, consider hanging this PDF one-page announcement on your class bulletin board.

Here’s what you need to know:

How to Submit

The Rules:

Resources for Teachers and Students
Frequently Asked Questions
How to Submit
We will update this post with a link to the submission form when the contest opens on April 8.

Students ages 11 to 19 attending middle or high school anywhere in the world can participate in this contest. If you are 13 to 19 years old in the United States and the United Kingdom, or 16 to 19 years old anywhere else in the world, you can submit your own entry. If you are younger, an adult must submit your entry on your behalf.

The Rules:

Create a podcast that produces a complete listening experience with a clear beginning, middle and ending.

Beginnings often draw the listener in or provide context. Endings often provide a summary, ask a question or tease the next segment.

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

You can use any podcast format or genre.

Popular podcast formats include interviews, conversations, nonfiction storytelling and fiction storytelling. Popular genres include comedy, true crime, news documentary, history, radio theater and sports. But you can choose from unlimited choices of format and genre.

Podcasts must be five minutes or less.

Please check the length of your audio file. (Just to be very clear, 5:01 is longer than five minutes.)

Your podcast must be original for this contest.

We want students to be inspired by our contests and have an opportunity to reach a wider audience for their work. If you have already published a piece, then come up with something else to submit.

In other words, if at the time of submission your work has already been published, or selected to be published, by a radio station, another podcast contest, or any other site (not including a teacher’s class page), then do not submit it to our contest.

You are allowed to submit your entry to another publication or contest for possible publication.

Create your podcast by yourself or with a group, but please submit only one entry per student.

If you are submitting as a team, remember to include all the names of those involved. If you’re submitting as part of a team, you should not also submit as an individual.

Use appropriate language.

Assume your listeners are New York Times readers. No explicit language, please.

Be sure to use non-copyrighted sound effects or music, with some exceptions.

If you use any music or sounds effects, please list the sources in a separate field in the submission form. 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 Freesound and SoundBible, 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 to ensure that your use of copyrighted material does not infringe on copyright protections.

Upload your podcast to SoundCloud to make it easier for our judges to listen to your work.

We suggest that you use SoundCloud to host your podcast. However, our judges will listen to entries hosted on other podcasting sites, including Podomatic, Buzzsprout, Anchor, Spreaker and Podbean. Make sure that the track settings are set to “public,” and that you follow your hosting site’s terms of service. Note: Our judges have often had difficulty listening to podcasts hosted on GoogleDrive, so we strongly recommend you use a different method.

You must meet our eligibility requirements to participate.

Students ages 11 to 19 enrolled in middle school or high school anywhere in the world can participate in this contest. The children and stepchildren of New York Times employees are not eligible to enter, nor are students who live in the same household as those employees.

If you are not sure if you are eligible for this contest (for example, if you’re taking a gap year), please see our more detailed eligibility rules.

Resources for Teachers and Students

A unit plan on writing for podcasts, which includes writing prompts to inspire your work; a mentor text featuring past winners of our contest; a lesson plan that focuses on storytelling, interviewing, editing and producing; and much more.

A live webinar on March 25 on writing for podcasts in which you’ll hear from a school librarian with experience teaching podcasting to students, New York Times podcast producers and previous student winners of our contest. You can watch a recording of our 2020 webinar on YouTube (above).

Our contest rubric.

Our winners from 2020, 2019 and 2018, as well as a video with advice from several of them, at the top of this post.

Two lesson plans on teaching with popular New York Times podcasts: “Using the Modern Love Podcast to Teach Narrative Writing” and “Experimenting With Sound and Story: Teaching and Learning With ‘The Daily’ Podcast.”

“The State of Podcasting,” a recent series from The New York Times that includes articles on teenage podcasters, “podcast voice,” stories of people overlooked by the medium, the future of the industry and more.

Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to your questions about writing, judging, the rules and teaching with this contest. Please read these thoroughly and, if you still can’t find what you’re looking for, post your query in the comments or write to us at

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