NextGenRadio

Finding, coaching and training public media's next generation.

FAQ

Welcome to Next Generation Radio from NPR. Here are some of our most frequently asked questions:

What is Next Generation Radio?

NPR's Next Generation Radio was formally established in 2000.

Our program is a one-week, digital-first audio training "sprint" We have adjusted with the times and are now targeting a range of people (Ex: You do not have to be in college) who are primarily interested in learning digital-first media with a focus on audio narratives. This program is designed to give competitively selected participants, who are interested in podcasting, audio storytelling, and written and visual journalism, the skills and opportunity to find and produce their own multimedia stories. Each selected participant is paired with a professional journalist and together they find, report, and produce a 3:30-4:00 non-narrated audio story.  Selected participants will write a 500-700 word piece while gathering stills and videos that enhance their work.

In 2020, with the pandemic,  we went remote which means selected participants report from where they are. Those chosen need to be attending a school or living within the state or the region of our sponsor.

Some of our alumni:

  • Erika Aguilar,  Executive Producer, Morning Edition, NPR, Washington DC
  • Nicole Beemsterboer, Head of News and Knowledge, Gimlet Media @ Spotify, Washington DC
  • Gus Contreras, Assn't Producer, All Things Considered, NPR, Washington DC
  • Audie Cornish, Former Co-Host, All Things Considered, NPR
  • Nancy DeVille, Storytelling Project Manager, "The Atlantic," Oakland, CA
  • Katherine Ellis, Digital Communications and Marketing Manager, Dia Art, New York City, NY
  • Phyllis Fletcher,  Editor, "Truth Be Told with Tonya Mosely, Seattle, WA
  • Jason Fuller, Assistant Producer, All Things Considered, NPR, Washington DC
  • Ericka Cruz Guevarra, Host, "The Bay" podcast, KQED, San Francisco, CA
  • Lee Hill, Executive Editor, WGBH, Boston, MA
  • Carla Javier, Engagement Reporter, KPCC, Pasadena, CA
  • Stephanie Kuo, Director of Training, PRX, New York City, NY
  • Savannah Maher, Reporter, Marketplace, Albuquerque, NM
  • Laura Tsutsui, Producer, WESA, Pittsburgh, PA
  • David Rodriguez, Engagement Producer, Center for Investigative Reporting, Oakland, CA
Describe the role of staff/mentors

Next-Gen Professional Staffing (per project)

PROJECT DIRECTOR/FOUNDER
Team member: (Doug Mitchell)
Assembles and leads the staff, manages sponsorships and project budgets, oversees co-community managers, and advises the NextGen community, leadership team. Manages relationships with NPR and NPR sponsoring stations. Mentors/coaches/support alumni and professional staff with their career development.

MANAGING EDITOR:
Team members: (1) *We develop ME's too..
Lead organizer of all editorial content. Works with the editorial team and oversees daily new operations during project week. Works with reporters and mentors to develop story ideas; set deadlines; and edit audio stories.

DIGITAL EDITORS
Team Members: (2) #We train editors here.
Lead reporters in the process of conceptualizing their story as a fully unified audio, written, and visual presentation for the Internet. Supports reporters through the writing process by providing feedback on drafts, as well as incorporating the narrative into the text. Meets with reporting teams individually to review content (audio, text, photos, graphics, additional media) visualize options for formatting the final piece, and assess further steps toward completion. Ensures reporters focus on the fully formed piece, not only audio, and communicates with managing editor, project director, web developer (if necessary), and visual editors about progress. Assists managing editor(s) with reviewing social media content and visual journalists in evaluating photos and captions. Uploads content into WordPress and layout the web product with the reporting team and visual journalists (and web developer if necessary). Reviews the project website to ensure formatting, grammar, syntax, and content are all accurate and visually appealing.

VISUAL JOURNALISTS:
Team Members (2)
Equips reporters to visually tell their stories by sharpening their skills in photography and video. Works one-on-one to develop and plan ideas in meetings before and during the project so that visuals are well thought out. Assists with technical gear setup/troubleshooting. Ensures reporters meet deadlines. Sequence and finalize media within the web story with each team; content management — edit, organize, and layout visuals onto WordPress at the end of the week with web editors/developers

TECHNICAL AUDIO PRODUCERS
Team members: (2 or 3)

BEFORE PROJECT
·Reviews tech surveys and initiates contact with all reporters about tech needs and concerns
·Coordinates gear for the week with station and mentors
·Oversees finding audio apprentice candidates

DURING PROJECT
·Communicates with audio team members about deliverables
·Coordinates engineers to attend interviews, for help with individual students, and engineer-reporter pairings
·Creates presentation on Audition & gathers personal slides from other engineers for delivery on Tuesday and records presentation
·Maintains audio production schedule for the week

AFTER PROJECT
·Uploads video recordings of “mixing” tutorials and presentations and shares with reporters
·Ensures storage of all mix sessions and audio files for a possible podcast

EDITORIAL ILLUSTRATORS
Team members: (3)
Illustrates student reporters’ portraits prior to the program. Shadows the interviews, and selects sketches with the journalists. Creates editorial illustrations and banner illustrations during the project.

SITE DEVELOPERS
Team Members: (2)
Sets up the project website before the program. Sets the look and feel for each individual project, uses ready-made themes, and installs any necessary plugins for the project. Makes sure all assets are properly loaded onto the site throughout the project (video, audio, photos). Consult with the reporting teams to see if there are any opportunities for different story displays or embeddable digital elements. Assists with building the stories or sets up access so reporters can build stories. Proficiency with WordPress and using theme builders (or the built-in blocks editor) is a must; knowledge of HTML and CSS is a plus.

MENTORS
Team members: (5 or 6)
They are paired, 1:1, with a competitively selected applicant by the project director and at least two weeks before the program begins. They are the main point of communication for the mentee and explain project expectations. Throughout the week, mentors handle any issues or questions the mentee may have - from refining the pitch to crafting interview questions and helping with logistics to putting the story together. Most importantly, mentors make sure the mentees meet their daily deadlines. Mentors should be aware that each mentee and their experience/skillsets are different, so the amount of guidance they need will vary. Mentors give the first edit on all content, including the focus statement, the audio story, and the digital story, and provide specific feedback and clear direction. They are also a motivator, offering support and encouragement throughout the project. Mentors give constructive feedback to mentees throughout the week. On the last day, mentors set up a feedback session with the mentee to reflect on the week. Ideally, the mentor and mentee stay in touch and continue to have a relationship after the project is done.

Who is eligible?

We're broadening the eligibility for consideration.

We see the trends.

In school?  Yes

Graduated? Yes

Didn't go to college but have created your own podcast?  Sure.

Changing careers and want to work in pubmedia?  Yup

Specifically, Next-Gen projects with Texas, Florida, Colorado, and Oregon are "statewide."  Meaning, that applicants can apply as long as they are currently living within those states.  For OPB, we'll accept applications from SW Washington State as well as across the state of Oregon.

We have two projects in California:
"Cap Radio" is for applicants in Northern California, the Central Valley, and Southern Oregon.

USC is for applicants in Southern California, meaning "Greater LA," Orange County, and the Inland Empire.  Currently cooking an idea with San Diego, but it's not set yet.

University of Nevada, Reno is exclusive to students or recent graduates of that school.

Our inaugural Saint Louis Public Radio project will have broader geographic eligibility given STL is on the border of two states. We are looking to support that station by developing people who are in or near STL

Finally, in all cases, we'll take applications from those who have been out of school for a few years or those who are podcasting, creating media, and never went to college.

Some other things:

We have had non-journalism majors in our projects.  We have had communications, public relations, strategic communications, business, history, English, and science majors in our projects. Recently, we have had early-stage podcasters apply as they have not had any formal training in audio journalism and production.

Ultimately, NextGen Radio is a teaching project about short-form,  narrative storytelling, and contextual journalism. We are not focused on daily news reporting.

When can we apply?

Answer:  Now!

Instead of waiting for an application window to open for a specific project, you can now apply to any of our projects at any time.

To be clear, while you can apply at any time, we will continue to close application windows on a specific date.
Also, be sure to follow @nextgenradio on Twitter, Instagram as well as "like" the official "NPR Next Generation Radio" FB page for all the latest information.

Also, the application is online only and there are two rounds.  We'll choose 8-10 "Finalists" for each project and the finalists will have an assignment to complete with a deadline. From there, we will choose 5-6 participants and two alternates.

What's the time commitment?

This is VITAL for both selected applicants and professional staff.

Please make sure you are able to fully commit to the project.  Generally, the program begins late afternoon on the Sunday of the project week and the program ends around 2 PM the Friday afternoon of the same week.

That means you are willing and able to work all day, each day of the project and if you cannot do that, you shouldn't apply.  We have made exceptions to those who are taking classes or have assignments due.  Not all professors are accommodating. Don't let that stop you from trying to get into this program.

Our staff and mentors also need to be committed to this work for the week.  You cannot do your regular job AND this project.

What is the cost?

Nada - Nothing.

That's right.  It's FREE. There is NO fee for the program.

BONUS:  We're also offering a stipend to our selected reporters.  We'll PAY YOU to work with us.

Who is a successful applicant?
  • We have an expectation that the successful applicant will have some qualitative experiences with digital media. That is, she/he/they will have produced and/or reported in some way across various formats. Additionally, we want to further the development of future public media journalists who have a pulse on their communities. Can you recognize a good story? Can you interview? Can you produce an audio story and you're not in it? Can you write a strong story about someone else? And, someone different from you? Can you use various elements of digital media to tell a complete story? Are you patient/diligent?
  • We have an expectation that the successful applicant will have demonstrable and qualitative experiences in uses of social media content and distribution platforms for journalism. Successful applicants will be active (in a positive way. Yes, we comb your account) on social media and demonstrate a level of savvy in how to use it appropriately. Do you share original content? Whom do you follow on social media and what do you learn from them?
  • We have an expectation that this project will be diverse. Next Generation Radio's professional teams are a true reflection of America and hence we'll expect a diverse collection of participants too. Racial, ethnic, cultural, gender, and LGBTQIA diversity matter to us. So do educational, economic, religious, and geographic diversity.
  • Fundamentally, this is a journalism project, not an advocacy project. If anything, we are advocating for and teaching journalism. Know the difference before applying.
  • As we have become strong partners with public media stations, national media, and journalism entities, we are looking to have our training projects represented by competitively selected participants and professional staff from communities that have not been historically represented in media and especially public media. We'tr using the term "UNserved" as opposed to "UNDER-served."
How should a successful applicant prepare for this project?

We will remain mostly remote. Staff who are fully vaccinated and want to travel, we will work that out.  In 2021, we transitioned from all remote to having 5-6 people on-site.   And, we have had instances where mentors and mentees have worked in person.  There's no template.  We make these decisions on a project-by-project basis.

Also, each applicant needs to assess their technical setup as they will be working as a "bureau reporter" as selected applicants will report from where they live.  Applicants will need to have access to and a decent amount of knowledge on how to interview/record in the field as well as how to save and share digital media files via their own lap or desktop. Not to worry.  Our mentoring teams have deep experiences in the myriad of ways there are in getting the work done and on a deadline. No one drowns. No one.

Successful applicants will need to be ready to, focus, listen and learn. And learning isn't solely about tools/technology. You still have to talk to people. It's also about building relationships and a deeper understanding of how to have someone tell you their story. We strongly suggest you spend time on our "Past Projects" page, reviewing the work of those who have been in the program. Also, if selected, you'll have a tremendous career-building opportunity with a room full of mentors ready to help you that week and in the future.  Recognize this as a rare opportunity and prepare accordingly.

Also, we have the expectation that participants will conduct himself/herself/themselves as a professional journalist who is highly collaborative, is focused, respectful, and eager to learn. Moreover, we will not hesitate to remove anyone (student or mentor) from this project if her/his/their conduct is unprofessional and detrimental to our program and their school/station.  Remember, public media is a small town with most of us two degrees of separation from each other.  Managing your own reputation is critical to success and we work hard to maintain the reputation of this program. Regardless of working conditions, our staff will be ready to roll and we expect all of our applicants to also act professionally.

Finally, we are completely flexible when it comes to working remotely or in person. We are strong supporters of the ability to work from home. No one is required to be physically present.  It's an option.  If in-person you will need to be fully vaccinated. No exceptions.

What happens after you apply?

We work as quickly and as transparently as possible, to notify those selected for the program and do so within three or four days after the close of the application window.  Each applicant will get an email from us alerting them to our specific timeline.  We have heard for years that once one applies to a program, that they often don't have any idea when decisions are made.

Where can I find out more about this project and its history?

nextgenradio.org

Here are some background articles on the program:

How Next-Gen helps with career-building

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/long-game-doug-mitchell/

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/adulting-nprs-next-generation-radio-turns-20-doug-mitchell/?trackingId=gVooI2wJ7oANSUV3xD6e5g%3D%3D

And again, you can email us at any time:

nextgenerationradio@npr.org

We STRONGLY recommend you closely review our past projects BEFORE deciding to apply.

Finally, you can stay up with us by following @nextgenradio & #nprnextgenradio on Twitter and @nextgenradio on Instagram.

You can also watch this video for more information about what we’re looking for:

If you have additional questions, you can write to us here:

nextgenerationradio@npr.org 

Thank you for your interest in Next Generation Radio from NPR, NPR Member Stations, and our College/University funders.



“NextGenRadio opened my eyes to the world of audio through learning technical skills and through the thrill of working in a professional environment. I entered the week-long program with excitement and left with knowledge that I will keep with me for a lifetime.”

Andres Soto, Cal-State Northridge 2020