Starting June 1: Open Call for Your Science Audio Story Ideas

PRX is back with our third annual open call for science radio ideas — the STEM Story Project. STEM Stories from 2013 and 2014 aired on Here & Now, All Things Considered, Studio 360, our science podcast Transistor, PRX Remix, and numerous other podcasts and public radio stations around the country. We’re excited to do this again.

Starting June 1, we’ll accept proposals to create radio stories inspired by STEM topics (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). We have a pool of funding from the the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to distribute among multiple projects.

Our goals are to:

• Unleash highly creative, STEM-based original stories and productions
• Educate and excite listeners about STEM topics and issues
• Tell stories and explain STEM issues in new ways

Have an idea for a story? We will accept proposals between June 1st and July 1st, 2015. Here are the application guidelines. Be sure to check them out, and stay tuned to #PRXSTEM on Twitter, via our handles @TransistorShow and @prx

Have questions? Comment below or email your questions to stem@prx.org. But please refer to the FAQ below and application guidelines first!

May the force be with you.
-John Barth & Genevieve Sponsler

The PRX STEM Story Project Team

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FAQ

What is PRX’s STEM Story Project?

An open call for proposals to create radio stories about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). In the past two years, PRX has funded the creation of 29 STEM stories. They’ve aired on national shows like Here & Now, Studio 360, All Things Considered, our science podcast Transistor, and PRX Remix, in addition to being aired on stations throughout the country.

TIMELINE

What are the dates?
PRX will accept proposals online between June 1 and July 1, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Accepted proposals will be announced in early September. Producers will then have two months to create their stories and publish them to PRX.org by November 1, 2015.

ELIGIBILITY

Who can apply?
We welcome any producers or writers with audio production experience to apply. Producers can be independent or station-based.

What if I don’t have audio production experience but want to submit a story?
We recommend that you work with an audio producer to come up with a story proposal and to provide audio samples.

If I already received a grant last year, can I apply again this year?
Yes.

If I applied last year and didn’t get a grant, can I apply again?
Yes, but you must apply with a different story than the one you submitted last year.

I have a podcast/an idea for a podcast. Can I submit my podcast as a proposal?
We cannot fund an entire series, but you can submit an entry for a single episode of your podcast. For example, in past STEM open calls PRX has funded single episodes of Criminal, 30 Minutes West, and Destination DIY.

THE APPLICATION

What do I need to include in my application?
We’re looking for a proposal of your story idea, two audio samples of your previous work, and a proposed budget.

How long should my proposed audio story be?
We generally ask that the stories be 10 minutes or less. Shorter stories are more shareable online and more likely to get picked up by national shows, podcasts, and stations. Past stories we’ve funded have ranged from 6 to 18 minutes long, but again, with the majority being under 10 minutes.

How will proposals be chosen?
We will work with a team of science advisors and radio advisors to select proposals that best fit the project’s goals.

BUDGETS

What should I include in my budget?
Producer fees, engineering fees, travel expenses, and editor fees. If your proposal is chosen, we will contact you to revise your budget, if necessary. See the application form here for details.

How much funding do you tend to provide for each story? What is the average budget?
The total pool of money we have is about $50k, and in the past we have broken that up over 15 or so applicants. However, that being said, we don’t share more budget info than that. We want the flexibility to work with producers on stories that may surprise us, and change what we do year to year. Some stories require travel or big expenses, and some do not. So we want to see your budget, your freelance rate, etc. And then if we want to work together but the numbers aren’t quite doable, we talk about it with you.

I’m wondering how you go about funding station-based reporters. Does it go straight to the reporter, based on the time spent on the STEM story? Or does it go to the station?
We set this up based on whatever rules/process you have regarding employment at the station and the nature of the story. If it is a station-based story that is one thing; if it is a total freelance thing, that might mean something else. If you are allowed to do freelance work and keep 100%, we do that. If stations get a cut no matter what, we have to abide by that. If stations demand 100%, we have to respect that. Let us know in the budget section of your application.

PRODUCTION

Will you be giving me any guidance during the production process?
PRX requires at least one mandatory check-in during the production period to go over initial script drafts.

POST-PRODUCTION

What happens after the stories are done?
PRX will work with you to get the pieces licensed to different stations within our network as well as placed on blogs + other digital platforms.

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