NPR Student Podcast Challenge Sponsored By Blue Microphones

Blue has been at the center of content creation since the birth of podcasting. Our legendary Yeti and Snowball USB microphones were adopted by podcasters early on, earning us the title "mic of the internet." Since then, we’ve made it our mission to help creators and streamers all around the world to raise their voice. That’s why we paired with NPR to sponsor the 3rd annual NPR Student Podcast Challenge.

This year, NPR opened up the competition to college students, as well as a separate contest for middle and high school students. Submissions could be on any topic, but students were offered the following prompts as suggestions:

  • Tell us a story about your school or community, about something that happened there—recently or in the past—that you want your audience to know about.
  • What is a moment in history that all students should learn about?
  • Take a journey and take us with you.
  • Tell us about a moment that changed your life.

The finalists of the SPC: College Edition were announced on March 30th. After a judging process like no other, this year's contest ended up with two grand-prize winners—both of whom get to have their stories heard on NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

Check out a brief description of the winning entries below, or head to NPR to listen to the full stories.

Anya Steinberg and Daniel Archibald are both seniors at Colorado College in Colorado Springs.
Anya Steinberg.

By: Anya Steinberg & Danny Archibald, Colorado College

Anya Steinberg is a Colorado College student who tells the captivating story of her journey to find her biological father. It started when she learned that she and her younger brother had DNA from the same sperm donor.

At first, she believed that her “donor dad” had been training to become a doctor at Stanford University in California. But after some investigating, she learned that he was actually a jazz musician—a creative with a dream of directing a major motion picture. Listen to the full story to find out if they connect!

A young Cassius Clay and his trainer Joe E. Martin.
The Courier-Journal/Wikipedia.

By: Miriam Colvin, Penn State University

Miriam Colvin, a freshman at Penn State, tells the story of a group of farm boys from Indiana that travel to Louisville, Kentucky to make a couple of bucks in an amateur boxing match. That is, until they crossed paths with a 14-year-old Cassius Clay, who would famously go on to become the world heavyweight champion and social activist, Muhammad Ali.

Colvin got the inspiration for the podcast after hearing her grandfather Larry Paris retell the story again and again over the years. Colvin began doing some research to verify the facts and interviewed a number of people for the story. Listen to the full story to find out how the boys fared against “The Greatest.”

NPR Student Podcast Challenge Finalists

On May 9, NPR announced the SPC finalists for middle and high school students. Out of more than 2,600 podcasts, they narrowed the list down to 12 middle school and 15 high school finalists. The winners (along with about 200 honorable mentions) were announced May 17th. Check out a brief description of the winning High School and Middle School entries below, or head to NPR to listen to the full list of finalists and listen to their stories.

NPR Student Podcast Challenge winner Kitri Sarav.
Olivia Obineme/NPR

By: Kriti Sarav, University Of Chicago Laboratory School, Chicago, IL.

Growing up Indian-American was complicated for 16-year-old Kriti Sarav. Like many multicultural kids, she often found her dual identities at odds with each other, from her lunchbox of daal and roti to people calling her “Chrissy” or “Kreedy.” 

With “My Very Own Bully,” Sarav traces her journey from being resentful of her Indian heritage and feeling “different” from her white peers to finding acceptance and strength in those very differences. She now sees the hyphen in her ethnicity as a point of pride –– and for reference, it’s pronounced KRIH-thee. Listen to the full story to hear more. 

Braeden Collett (left), Bo Porter, Brennan Williams and Dominique Jannat, creators of "Whodunnit?"
Arden Barnes for NPR

By: Braeden Collett, Bo Porter, Brennan Williams and Dominique Jannat, Sayre School, Lexington, KY.

When middle-schoolers Braeden Collett and Brennan Williams were looking for a podcast idea, they turned to their own school for inspiration. On “Whodunnit?” Collett and Williams alongside collaborators Bo Porter and Dominique Jannat interview the five-person maintenance and grounds team that quietly keeps the 500-person, pre-K through 12 Sayre School up and running. 

Fueled by a passion for podcasting and genuine curiosity (and plenty of snacks!), the team tells the story of their school’s unsung heroes with a maturity beyond their years. Listen to the full story to learn more.

Ready to tell your story? Check out our blog to learn everything you need to know about how to make a podcast.