Narrative Stories

Producing a fictional or nonfictional narrative podcast


According to NPR, if you are thinking about starting a podcast you first need to spend time thinking about what you want to make and who you're making it for. Indeed, you need to be intentional and specific about what you are about to set out to do and who will be listening to what you have to say.

This module will help you to start your podcast off on the right foot. And to do that, you will be tasked with completing the NPR Storytelling Project Blueprint from NPR Training. This document contains a 10-step process that will help you build a roadmap and increase your chances of setting realistic, authentic goals and keeping on a tight schedule in this workshop.

The assignment

Complete steps 1-5 of the NPR Project Blueprint. Submit your work to Slack using your individual channel.

Starting your project

No matter what format your podcast takes, you will always be telling a story. Your story will manifest in the sound of your voice, the environments in your recording, the words on your script, and the editing of your project. What you say and what you do matters. But we realize that starting a podcast is no small feat and often comes with big ideas with no authentic and feasible way to scope those ideas and make them come to life. The NPR Project Blueprint will hopefully help you identify priorities and provide focus through this process.

To start working on your blueprint, go to the NPR Project Blueprint master copy. Once in Google Docs, go to the File menu and select Make a copy... to save it to your My Drive.

Step 1: What are you calling this project?

Read the overview, instructions, and advice on the first page of the NPR Project Blueprint. While you are welcome to gather the physical materials suggested in the instructions, we want you to fill in your responses directly in the document itself.

Brainstorm ideas in the text box on page 2.

Step 2: Describe your project in one memorable sentence.

We love the fact that the blueprint labels this step as a "statement of purpose" rather than an elevator pitch. Indeed, go ahead and jot down a single memorable sentence that encapsulates what your proejct is truly, or will be, about.

You may revisit this statement of purpose later to review and refine your statement once you have advanced further along in the blueprint.

Step 3: Define your audience

This step is to illustrate the types of audiences you will have: a main audience and a supporting audience. Main audiences are going to be the direct listeners, those who will be downloading your work for their personal consumption. Supporting audiences are those who may also be listening to your work, but are not the "target" audience. For example, your podcast may focus on the latest and greatest in tech gadgetry. Your target audience might be early adopters of technology. Supporting audiences for your show could be those who have a passing interest in tech, developers and vendors of the devices and tools you are reviewing, listeners of similar shows, and so on.

While you may have quite a few supporting audiences, you will only have 1 (maybe two) main audience for the project. Assume everyone else is a supporting audience.

Step 4: What do you think you're making?

Now we're getting into the nitty gritty of your podcast idea. You will identify your particular podcast format (see the modules page), audience needs and opportunities, key benefits that the project will provide your audience, alternative ways that the audience might obtain the information you will talk about, and your competitive advantage.

This particular stage may seem like a lot to consider - and it is - but know that this is a draft and is meant to provide a broad representation of your podcast's characteristics. At the end of this step, you will have a project statement that will hopefully provide a thorough description of your podcast, its audience, and the advantages that it will provide in its particular format.

Step 5: How might your audience benefit?

Similar to the question in Step 4, you will return back to your main audience now and defining the benefits that your podcast will provide. Is your podcast a call to action for your listeners? Will it provide information that they may not otherwise known? Is your podcast a vehicle to connect people to each other? Describe the benefits (and drawbacks) in this step.

Wrap up

By now, you should start to understand a bit more about the planning process involved in starting your podcast. We really want you to think about the purpose and intended audience and what you can contribute to discourse that provides a net benefit to your listeners. Some of these steps may have felt repetitive to complete, but this is a good thing! Podcast production is iterative and truly requires revisiting and refining key concepts so you can best serve your audience.

To complete this module, submit your assignment to your individual Slack channel. Members of the Teaching Team will review your document and provide comments in the channel or through the Comment feature on Google Docs.