NPR’s Student Podcast Challenge Encourages the Next Generation of Audio Storytellers

November 2021

NPR’s award-winning series, the Student Podcast Challenge, is returning for its fourth year with a host of new features for entrants and sponsors alike, building on its momentum from previous years. The series encourages students nationwide to turn their audio storytelling aspirations into reality by turning classrooms into studios, essays into scripts, and ideas into podcasts.

NPR aims to provide up-and-coming audio talent with the skills to succeed in an oversaturated landscape, and the series provides space for the voice of a younger generation to emerge in the mainstream. Contestants compete for the chance to have their story featured on the Student Podcast Challenge podcast and in other NPR podcasts, recognized across some of NPR’s most popular news magazines, and to win scholarships to aid them in continuing their podcasting and education endeavours. The series provides a wealth of sponsorship alignment  throughout the duration of the contest and in the recognition of the winners, providing long term exposure to NPR’s audience.


Digital + Podcast Impressions across Student Podcast Challenge content in 2021.


entrants in the last three years.


listeners reached in 2021 across Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition.

Google Analytics (1/2021 - 6/2021), Splunk, ACT 1 based on Nielsen Audio Nationwide, Spring 2021 (base 18+)

As the Student Podcast Challenge expands its opportunities for contestants, it does the same for sponsors. Increased prizes and more robust media provide significant new space for co-branded tools and assets through increased contact with the NPR audience. Learning opportunities for all contestants via targeted outreach at the college-level allows sponsors to creatively engage with and provide resources and key messaging to these aspiring students.

Sponsors will also receive attributable cross-platform digital promotion, and radio extensions on some of NPR’s most popular programs like All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Weekend Edition, providing coveted airtime spots to your brand alongside the youngest voices in podcasting. Sponsoring the Student Podcast Challenge makes an impact not only on the next generation of audio storytellers, but also on your target audiences. 

NPR is proud to see the positive effect the Student Podcast Challenge has had on previous contestants. One of the 2021 SPC winners, Anya Steinberg, has made her audio passions into a lasting relationship with NPR. Her incredible submission about a personal story of family secrets and biology made Anya a standout in the 2021 contest, and a standout in the industry as an up-and-coming voice. She has since joined NPR as an intern, working on the highly acclaimed podcasts Throughline and NPR’s Education Desk. When asked about her experience with the Challenge, Anya noted that winning the contest gave her a newfound confidence to push forward into her dream industry. “When I won the contest it was like my big break. Not only did people start reaching out to me and asking me to apply to their internships, but it was my one big ticket to being seen as more legitimate.” Giving a chance to these highly qualified and talented students is more than a sponsorship opportunity, it’s a career opportunity for the students involved.

The Student Podcast Challenge provides sponsors the opportunity to align their brand with NPR and the young minds that make up the next generation of podcasting. 

To learn more about the Student Podcast Challenge and its sponsorship opportunities, contact NPR’s sponsorship team.

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