Tag Archives: acquisitions

TAL looking for ideas

Hey folks. Here's the latest request for pitches from This American Life. Good luck! -mia


Dear This American Life friends and contributors,

We've got a new round of themes-in-progress and we're coming to you for story pitches, thoughts and suggestions for our upcoming shows.

How this process works: When you send in a story idea to me, I'll respond with a generic email letting you know that I received your pitch and that I've read it. I promise. I read every pitch. (I won't send you the auto response until I've read your pitch so expect a day or two delay sometimes to get that email.) If we think the pitch is right for us, or if we need more information from you, I'll send you another email asking for more info on the story or letting you know we'd like to commission the story. But if you don't hear back from us within two weeks, beyond the initial auto-reply email, it means the story just isn't right for us or for the needs of that

particular show. The idea of doing it this way is just to get through
pitches and get back to everyone a little more quickly.

Like always, these themes are shows we're actively pursuing right now but we're always on the lookout for new stories or ideas. So if you've got a story that you think would work especially well for us but doesn't fit a specific theme listed below, please send it along anyway.

Thanks so much for your pitches. All of us here are very appreciative.


FIRST CONTACT: Inspired by the Star Trek movie that I’ve actually never seen, we’re looking for stories about first meetings or beginnings with an “other,” alien or otherwise. Actually, alien would be awesome because we don’t actually have any alien stories for this show yet (yet!) but we are working on a story of an American man who, for the last seven years, has spent four hours every Sunday morning talking with three brothers in Iraq he has never met in person. In another story, a boy recounts how he tried very, very hard to get his first kiss. We’re looking for more stories about the beginnings. Maybe a story about a person who is just truly great at

making first impressions but things go south after that? Or a story about the first time having to do something? The first time technology comes to a place? Is there a profession or field that specializes in “firsts’? Science stories would be great for this show, too.

SOCIAL CONTRACT: This is a show that is coming up soon and is pretty much filled, story-wise, but we are looking for a little help with the opening, or “top” story to the show. We’d like to talk about how various municipal and state legislatures across the country are beginning to say we need to fundamentally rethink what government can do and fund. We’d like to get to this idea by playing clips of speeches, press conferences, city council meetings, school board meetings, and the like, where legislators suggest that maybe government just can’t provide the services we’ve come to expect. We’d like these clips to come from all across the country and from a variety of different governmental bodies so if you have suggestions on any quote you’ve read in the news or heard at a meeting or anything, will you let us know? We can track it down and get the audio if you can just point us in the right direction. Thank you so much.

STICKING IT TO THE MAN: We really love this one story about a toddler who seems to express – in a not-very-subtle way – all of our collective frustrations with our American leaders, so we’d love to do a whole show about big and small attempts to punish the people in charge. We’d like a story that gets at current frustrations with political leaders and maybe we do that through Tea Partiers (what? It isn’t 2009?) or different social and political movements or with specific candidates that seem to shed light on the general dissatisfaction a lot of citizens are feeling now. But we’d also love non-political stories, too. Great “sticking it to the man” stories seem to be about people who justify their bad behavior in the name of righting a wrong, or in pursuit of a larger good. A great story for this show would be one from “the man’s” perspective – maybe a boss who is forced to learn a lesson? Or a company that realizes it’s in the wrong? Stories about vengeance would be nice for this show.

GOOD COP, BAD COP: Stories about using both brute force and sweet persuasion to get what you want. Classic parenting stories would work well for this show, along with workplace stories. Maybe a story where the players actually decide ahead of time who gets to play what role. We’d really like a story where someone tries a bunch of different ways to get what they want, kind of going through a bunch of approaches to get to the end. Or a story about two people on opposite sides of an issue. Or a story where two people in conflict both believe they’re playing the role of good cop. A “wolf in sheep’s clothing” kind of story would be particularly nice for this show, where something that is purportedly a force for good is actually evil in disguise.

DREAM ON: A woman who has had cancer for the last 22 years and has grown, understandably, a little cynical about new treatments, new therapies and new discoveries, dares to ask the question: how close are we to finding a cure for cancer? In another story, an architect who briefly believes one of his buildings may have caused the deaths of several people in a horrible collapse, now devotes all his energy to designing buildings with absolutely no environmental impact. We’re looking for more stories about people looking to accomplish things that seem impossible. Just because of the cancer and building collapse, though, a lighter, maybe-kinda-funny story would be really, really nice for this show. Maybe a story about starting a ridiculous business or venture? Or someone who has a vision that they can be the kind of person they most decidedly are not? Maybe a story about a political candidate with a very specific agenda? Short fiction could be really nice for this show, too.

CRY BABIES: We’d like to do a show about people who have out-of-proportion responses to perceived wrongs. There’s always one cry baby – one member of the family or one person in the office. And what’s so galling is that being the cry baby almost always works. For a short-term strategy, it’s kind of brilliant. It’s just in the long term that it gets really annoying. So we’d love to do a show about a person or an organization or institution where the go-to move is to cry “victim.” And how frustrating that can be, dealing with someone like that. Also, a story told from the “cry baby” perspective would be great, too, because it can also be such an unfair label, undercutting any argument or motive. Political stories, obviously, could really work for this show but family stories would also be great.

***** Julie Snyder
Senior Producer
This American Life
153 W. 27th Street, #1104
New York, NY 10001
(212) 624-5012

More Acquisition Updates from Liaison’s Desk – Pt. 5 TRANSOM.ORG

And another one – this one is open to everyone, artists, writers, etc.. -Mia



Transom.org acquires pieces for about $300 a pop. We encourage and assist producers in getting their work broadcast after it appears on Transom: on NPR news shows, This American Life, Hearing Voices, and other venues. We also coordinate Transom features with PRX distribution. We sometimes anthologize pieces in The Transom Radio Hour.

We’re looking for great radio — things that are less heard, different angles, new voices, new ways of telling, and any other good pieces that haven’t found another way onto public radio. Editors evaluate material more by what it does than what it is. Some questions they’ll consider:

• On the air, would it keep you by your radio until it’s over? • Is the maker someone of talent who should be encouraged? • Does it push at the boundary of conventional radio in an exciting way? • Will it provoke fruitful discussion online?

Submissions can be stories, essays, home recordings, sound portraits, interviews, found sound, non-fiction pieces, audio art, whatever, as long as it’s good listening. Material may be submitted by anyone, anywhere — by citizens with stories to tell, by radio producers trying new styles, by writers and artists wanting to experiment with radio. As long as it hasn’t already aired nationally, we’ll consider it.

More Acquisition Updates from Liaison’s Desk – Pt. 4 SPLENDID TABLE/STUDIO 360

More updates for radio program acquisitions – thanks to AIRand NPR Liason Paul Ingles! -mia

+++++++++++++++++++++ *The Splendid Table *

*series: *The Splendid Table, starring Lynne Rossetto Kasper, is a show about food — enjoying it, buying it, cooking it — and about eating out, entertaining, health and travel. We’re looking for *produced* field pieces which fit our program. We are always seeking stories about food as a window to a culture; about meals as a memorable part of travel; about food producers (artisans and otherwise), the business of food, and new trends; about food and health; about the behind-the-scenes of restaurants or other food businesses; about festivals, family gatherings, holiday celebrations, and amazing parties — and about people with particular passions about food. Pieces with a quirky point-of-view or a sense of humor are encouraged. Pieces about local restaurants or other food businesses should focus on the exceptional people who run them, or have some other editorial focus which makes the story interesting to our national audience. *compensation:* We will pay $500 for a fully mixed piece that is suitable for air and meets both our editorial and technical standards. We ask for the non-exclusive right to broadcast the piece on radio, and to offer it on the Web (in both”streamed” and/or archival form), both in perpetuity. You would own all rights to the piece other than those granted to us. We ask only that The Splendid Table receive an appropriate credit when the piece, or elements thereof, appears elsewhere. We honor the spirit of the Code published by * AIR*.

*Show*: national one-hour show which airs weekly on over 200 public radio stations across the country and is also podcast weekly. *segments:* we are looking for segments that are 3-5 minutes in length. *pitch:* E-mail a brief description of your piece as well as the edited and mixed piece (mp3, audio link, etc) for our review and consideration. We will respond quickly with ayes or no, or with a proposed modification of the piece. If we say yes, we will send you an Agreement right away. *Contact:* Jennifer Russell, Producer jenrussell@americanpublicmedia.org

*Studio 360*

We are still accepting pitches from independents. Our protocol remains the same – a brief (2 paragraph) pitch to Michele Siegel (mtsiegel@wnyc.org) cc me (dkrasnow@wnyc.org). (We hope to revise our Independent Producer Guidelines in the coming month.)

With regard to rates, we took a tip from the new NPR system and decided that levels based on complexity and labor (rather than arbitrary duration brackets) made a great deal more sense – especially for the kind of feature we make. I’d like to note here that the great majority of stories we assign will fall at Levels 2 or 3.

*A Level 1 Story *would typically:

– Start with topic or subject selection provided by Studio 360 – Consist of interview(s) with a single subject, recorded in person or by remote, or short interviews captured in a brief period of time.

*Fee: $350 **(with mixing bonus: $500)*

*A Level 2 Story *would typically:

– Consist primarily of interview(s) with a single subject, recorded on location or in studio – Involve careful subject selection and research – Use sound richly

*Fee: $475 **(with mixing bonus: $625)*

*A Level 3 Story *would typically:

– Involve significant research – Feature multiple interviews in person or by remote – Require reporting on location – Use sound richly

*Fee: $875 **(with mixing bonus: $1025)*

*A Level 4 Story *would typically:

– Involve significant research and expertise in the subject matter – Require out-of-town travel by the reporter – Involve location reporting at multiple sites – Feature multiple interviews – Use sound richly

*Fee: $1000 **(with mixing bonus: $1150)*

New York Public Radio will apply the mixing bonus of $150 when Producer provides a complete and finished mix of the Piece, upon approval of that mix from the Editor.

More Acquisition Updates from Liaison’s Desk

More freelance radio show updates from Paul Ingles. -mia


I’m hearing back from other programs now:


William Troop: Our program is accepting pitches from independents. The pitches can go to our two planning editors: Jennifer.Goren@bbc.co.uk and Aaron.Schachter@bbc.co.uk. We ask that anybody pitching keep in mind that we are an international news program, so pitches need to be on international angles and be newsy to some degree. Standard feature rate is $115 per minute aired. There are also rates for providing web content (pictures, slideshows, etc.) with the caveat there that the quality of the submissions (as assessed by our web team) affects how much we pay for them.


Kathleen McKenna: Due to budget constraints, Here and Now, is not taking pitches from independent producers at this time.


Lester Graham: Yes, we’re accepting pitches from EXPERIENCED independents. Stories must be relevant to the everyday lives of the majority of the audience. We are a national show and stories must have a national perspective. Before pitching, producers should carefully read our Submission Guidelines: http://www.environmentreport.org/about/submissions.php%C2%A0 http://www.environmentreport.org/about/submissions.php

We pay $400 for a 3:50 piece (including lead) and an additional $40 for the same piece cut down to 2:15. We pay $40 for a spot and an additional $20 for a two-way for our daily show.


John Haas: All three Marketplace programs are accepting pitches from independents and John is the pitch contact: jhaas@americanpublicmedia.org. The rates for features generally range between $300 – $600 depending on length and reporting difficulty.

John also shared these helpful notes for pitching to Marketplace:

Celeste Wesson, the senior producer for Marketplace, recently did a great workshop for some station reporters on pitching, and wrote up these suggestions. Thought you’d like seeing what she said.

Pitch workshop notes

What is a pitch? A reporter might say… a summary of the story; a sales pitch

From my POV as a show producer… The written pitch may be the only thing I know about you. So not only does it tell me your story idea, it also tells me how well you write, how you think, what kind of reporter you are. You’re not just selling the story, you are selling yourself as the storyteller.

If you eavesdropped on our pitch meeting, you’d probably hear us turning down pitches for reasons like these: I don’t understand what this story is about. That’s not new. Where’s the Marketplace? Too local. Can s/he write in our style?

Turning those negatives into positive pitch guidelines:

* The frame or angle is crucial – what’s the import, the context, and the approach * It’s now, it’s news, it’s fresh * It’s about money, business, the economy – or uses those as a lens on how we live * It’s clear why people all over the country would care * It’s written clearly, conversationally, even cleverly – and gets to the point

Here’s a list of things that may inspire your pitch. But by themselves, they aren’t enough:

* A question * An idea * An overview * An issue * An event (especially not a conference) * A character * An anecdote * An unattributed paragraph from a newspaper story

*FROM JARED WEISSBROT: SOUNDPRINT* is always open for documentary pitches — there’s a submission form linked on our website, and part of your proposal evaluation is based on finding the form :). Responses will generally be slow — production meetings are difficult to schedule and front-loaded with a currently-very-busy production pipeline. Pestering me does help you get results, is entirely appropriate, and will not arise my ire. Go ahead and guilt me — I can take it 🙂 jared@soundprint.org

YOUR BEST BET IS TO HAVE SOMETHING FOR US TO LISTEN TO. I cannot stress that enough. As far as pitches are concerned, we are currently in acquisition mode almost exclusively — especially if we haven’t worked with you before from soup-to-nuts. Our time is 25:30. We’ll listen to any length, but if your piece isn’t going to work at around 5/12ths-hour, you will likely have more success elsewhere. We do not run hour-long specials within the series, but we will take pieces that work at 29:00 (minus :30 for music bed and about 3:00 for host lead, credits, backs, and forward promotion). We will gladly work with you on reversioning longer-form pieces that we like. It’s doubtful that we’d work with you on reversioning longer-form pieces that we *don’t* like.

We pay more than the lower rates, and less than the highest rates, per produced minute (we know you gotta eat; but we’re a volume-buyer). We will gladly offer technical assistance, including some mixing&mastering assistance, without affecting your rate. This is for us, too — the flip side is that we often will request technical adjustments.

We have no set topics or themes that will make your piece more or less likely to be acquired. We like good, rich sound, clear and personal writing/storytelling, and stories which can translate/appeal to a national and international audience (along those lines, national and international rights need to be free and clear — if international is a problem, you have to let us know).

Hope this helps!


Paul Ingles Independent Producer / Reporter NPR Liaison to Independent Producers www.paulingles.com 505-255-1219

Acquisitions Update – who is taking what from radio freelancers

This incredibly valuable information for radio freelancers, from Paul Ingles, the NPR Liaison to Independent Producers. Please note that much of the radio information I send on to this group comes from AIR – the Association of Independents in Radio http://airmedia.org/. I have been a member for a long time and it’s an incredibly valuable resource. Please check them out if you’re interested. Best, Mia


At the request of Sue Schardt, I have been trying to contact various show producers to get an update on whether they are actively acquiring content from independents, and update rates paid. Response has been fast from some, slower from others, with no response from several – so far. Here’s what I’ve heard from those who’ve responded:


Ellen Weiss: Fiscal year 2010 looks better but NPR is still chipping away at a deficit so “we are holding the line on expenses – and the close scrutiny and high bar we put into place (on story submissions) remain….and will for the foreseeable future. The current rate system (based on expierence tiers and story enterprise levels) remains the same.”


Eileen Bolinksy: LOE is accepting a limited number of acquisitions from independents. Producers can pitch to me at this email address bolinsky@loe.org. We pay $100/minute, plus previously approved expenses.

*WORD OF MOUTH (New Hampshire Public Radio)*

Avishay Artsy: We are accepting pitches from independents. We take produced features (at $60/minute) and scripted two-way interviews (for $150). The show’s focus is the same: new ideas and trends in science, technology, popular culture, the arts, and other fields. AArtsy@nhpr.org


Leda Hartman: The WVR continues to accept pitches from domestic and overseas reporters. Our pitch meetings take place on Wednesday afternoons, US eastern time. We’re on the lookout for pieces about poverty and justice (broadly defined) that highlight the personal stories of ordinary people, and are rich in scenes and nat sound. We’re especially interested in surprising, out-of-the-box and under-reported stories that tell us something unique about life in the developing world. Our mix is about 80% international stories and 20% domestic. Pitches can be sent to the assignment editor, Leda Hartman, at ledahart@mindspring.com. If you’re pitching for the first time, please include a couple of audio samples of your work.

The WVR pays $450 for a feature under 4 minutes; $650 for a feature 4-6 minutes long; and $750 for a feature more than 6 minutes. We also run shorter, less conventional segments, including reporter’s notebooks ($300); street vendor segments ($250); cooking segments ($250); trackless “in their own words” segments ($200); photos and blogs ($25-$50). After the first piece, we will consider paying travel expenses if the expense estimate is submitted at the time of the pitch.

*AARP PRIME TIME POSTSCRIPT* ** Janelle Haskell: I am definitely still seeking submissions for Prime Time Postscript, the weekly 5-minute feature. Pieces need to be fully produced, between 4:00 and 4:15 in length, have not been broadcast previously *nationally, *and appeal to the 50+ audience (meaning on topics of every variety). We pay $350 for the spot and an extra $50 for fully cleared photos to use on the website. JHaskell@aarp.org

*BBC AMERICANA* ** David Schulman: Not taking many traditional reported pieces from independents as the show draws on the strengths of its host Matt Frei. Are using independents for “enchanced” tape synchs that might involve extra sound gathering. Still, listen to the show and if a story idea that would suit the program’s style comes to mind, pitch away: David.Schulman@bbc.co.uk Rates for a basic tape synch $175 flat fee. Enhanced tape synchs – $225. Buying from PRX (occasionally) at $60 per minute. David suggest keeping your AIR DIRECTORY listing current, because that’s where they go first to look for synch and reporting help where they need it.

These are programs I’m still nudging to hear back from: Studio 360, Latino USA, Splendid Table, Only A Game, Here and Now, Environment Report, Marketplace, The World, Soundprint. If there are other acquirers you are anxious to hear about, let me know and I’ll try to get in touch with them.


Paul Ingles Independent Producer / Reporter NPR Liaison to Independent Producers www.paulingles.com 505-255-1219