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*** Application opens June 1, 2015. The deadline to apply is July 1, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. PT. ***

PRX is thrilled to be back with our third annual open call for science radio ideas, the STEM Story Project. Past open calls yielded fascinating audio stories that aired on Here & Now, All Things Considered, Studio 360, our science podcast TransistorPRX Remix, and numerous public radio stations around the country. 


Please read the guidelines below and check out our FAQ. Follow #PRXSTEM on Twitter for the latest info.

PRX is looking for proposals to create original short-form audio works about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) topics. Approved proposals should result in compelling audio pieces that are suitable for broadcast and digital distribution by PRX. 

Story Types

We’re interested in the unexpected, the under-reported, the fascinating, the misunderstood, the controversial, and nuanced STEM stories that will educate and entertain listeners everywhere.  How you tell the story is important. The accuracy and clarity of the science is extremely important and why our science panel weighs in. We have a funding pool from the Sloan Foundation that will be distributed to selected producers to create their proposed ideas. PRX reviews your budget to determine, based on what we have done in the past, what is a reasonable set of expenses for the productions you describe. The one thing we don’t pay for is equipment.

More on what we're looking for:

  • Short-form works less than 10 minutes, preferably 4-7 minutes. We are open to limited series of short-form pieces. No hour-long or 30-minute proposals.
  • Original content. No previously aired work. We want highly creative works (we love RadiolabSciFri99% Invisible, etc., but we want to hear your style).
  • Solid science reporting, but not presented in a standard newsy style. Make something that keeps a listener enthralled.
  • Proposals that address under-covered topics.  
  • Small stories that explain a bigger science topic, illustrate an issue, or get to the heart of a nuanced science truth. Stories that also explain a science fundamental -- like a principle or theory -- in a way that helps people get it right away.  Not just a "gee whiz for gee whiz sakes" kind of story.
  • We will consider works that are already commissioned by another local or national program, but prefer original works. A commissioned work must be at pre-production stage, and if it airs in a national show or similar venue must include PRX and Sloan Foundation credits in the body of the program, for all broadcast and digital versions. PRX will want to discuss this with the station, program or venue before proceeding.
  • No phone audio. Everything must be recorded in person or via tape sync.
  • Productions by individual independent producers or by groups with one lead producer to act as the main contact.

Distribution Details

PRX, under the terms of the arrangement with producers whose works get funded, manages all negotiations with all distributors for two years. That includes shows, stations, and podcasts. PRX welcomes leads and tips, but PRX handles how the content is distributed in all forms.

  • Funded proposals will be announced Sept 4, 2015.
  • If selected and funded, producers must upload their completed work to PRX.org no later than November 1, 2015.  PRX cannot offer promotion or editorial support to productions that miss this deadline, and we reserve the right to reduce the amount paid to producers who miss this deadline.  PRX also requires check-ins for your work-in-progress (script, audio) for feedback. We will schedule these with you.
  • The final piece must be open to all licensing and opt-in usage by stations and other purchasers, including PRX Remix. 
  • PRX will be the exclusive broadcast distributor of the content for two years (or 24 months) after the work is posted to PRX and will retain a nonexclusive perpetual license for digital distribution. Exclusive means that PRX will be involved in all discussions with broadcast outlets and have final say on all broadcast placement of the piece.  For example: If we fund your project and you have a relationship with a national show and want to pitch your completed STEM Story to them, the conversation will start with us first.  PRX make the final decision and any programs/shows/stations will purchase the piece from you through PRX. 
  • The producer owns the work and can post it on his/her own website, SoundCloud, and other open streaming sites with the proper crediting to PRX and the Sloan Foundation.  
  • Producers must include required funding credits (to be provided by PRX) within the body of longer works or as adjacent credits with shorter material.  Credits must also be included on any digital platform.


Evaluation Criteria

This is a competitive process for a limited amount of funding that will go to multiple projects. Panelists that include PRX staff plus outside scientists and radio producers will evaluate proposals and then make selections based on:

  • audio/production quality of your samples
  • conformity to the project goals
  • likelihood of distribution success
  • originality
  • value and relevance of STEM topic

Fine Print Stuff

  • All final productions must be in English for U.S. audiences and conform to U.S. professional broadcast standards (technical, legal, and appropriate language).
  • Producers do not need to be a PRX account holders to apply.  However, producers of the selected and funded productions must set up PRX accounts, which we will comp for 6 months.
  • The funded productions must comply with the PRX Terms of Use.
  • There is no implication or agreement to hire, contract, or otherwise engage with the producers outside this competitive process.
  • All support funds will be paid in U.S. dollars.
  • The producer is responsible for all rights clearances for any content included in the work.
  • Producers can submit more than one proposal.  Please submit a separate application for each proposed project.
  • Producers outside the U.S. are welcome to apply.  International story proposals are also welcome.
  • Meeting deadlines is critical. If deadlines are missed, we cannot pay for the programs and will ask that any funds advanced to that point are returned to PRX.

For the application form you will need:

  • A title for your proposed project.
  • A short bio.  If you also have past experience with STEM topics, let us know!  It is NOT required, however.
  • Two links to examples of your previous work with audio (or mp3 files if you do not have links).  You do not need to create files that are specific to your proposal.
  • Contact info for three references (not reference letters).
  • Production budget and breakdown.  Budget for everything but capital costs (equipment).  Budget for your own pay, an editor, travel, studio rentals, etc.
  • Summary of the editorial and fact-checking plans; in particular for the STEM information at the core of the work.
  • A Word doc, PDF, or txt file of your project description in 250 words or less.
  • Your Twitter handle and a Twitter-length summary of your proposal (140 characters or less). PRX may choose to share these summaries publicly during the application process (you may opt out).
  • A deadline for your final product. ALL PIECES MUST BE COMPLETED AND POSTED TO PRX by November 1, 2015 at 5 p.m. ET.
  • One point of contact: a single producer OR a single lead producer of a small team. That producer must have final and complete say over story production, edits and the final product and is responsible for delivery of the agreed segment on time and on budget. The audio sample(s) submitted for this application must be by the lead or sole producer. 
  • An explanation of what you will do to help market the program on traditional outlets and social media.
  • The name of an independent editor for the work who will review reporting, audio and scripts. All scripts and rough edits will also be reviewed by PRX BEFORE production. We have found this ensures the highest quality work and productions that have the best chance of being licensed and broadcast.

*** Application opens June 1, 2015. The deadline to apply is July 1, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. PT. ***

Questions?  Just shout! STEM@prx.org.  But please check out our FAQ first.