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The NPR Podcast Competition

6 min read
Weekly Tune

You know that feeling when you finish something that you’ve worked on for so long. That feeling of relief, happiness, and satisfaction. In 4 months, we achieved incredible. We told the story of the inclusive arts and why there should be more support for it.

We told the story of how inclusive arts can change the world.

“Inspiration is finding something that excites you. “- Connie Smith

This all began in October of 2019. I had just learned about the annual NPR student podcast competition, and to say the least, I was excited. I had never tried making a podcast and had zero experience regarding what went into making a podcast, but all I knew was that I wanted to do this. This was a chance to tell an incredible story, and maybe even win recognition in the process. All I needed was a team.

Finding a team took a while. Early November we had a team consisting of me and three of my friends. We were excited and ready to get started. The team was great, but the next part was finding a topic to discuss. The goal was to find a local story to talk about. We wanted to stand out and tell a unique story not heard by many. We were thinking about many different ideas we could pursue, and ultimately we settled on discussing Healthcare… well not exactly.


Choosing ideas, let alone coming up with them, is the hardest part of the creative process. Right alongside making those ideas into reality.

We began with healthcare and soon we dropped that idea. Why? Well, we felt that we couldn’t relate enough to the topic and it was too big of a topic to cover in a 3-12 minute podcast.

Then we thought of a different topic. We thought about talking about something relating to disabilities. According to the CDC, 61 million adults in the US live with a disability. We wanted to tell the story of an organization that was supporting disabled individuals.

Even at this point, we still hadn’t narrowed our goal enough. We were thinking about possible organizations to talk about, and I remembered SPARC and their Live Art program. I saw this as an amazing opportunity to tell the story of a local organization doing good for individuals of all abilities.

A quick rundown of SPARC’s Live Art program. Live Art is an inclusive art program for individuals of all abilities. Since 2011, Live Art has become one of Richmond’s most beloved shows with an audience of 3000+ every year, and with performances from guest artists such as Jason Mraz, Justin Willman, Sara Bareilles and more.

Making The Idea Into Reality

By the time we had finalized our idea, it was already late December. Submissions opened on January 1st. Since we had finalized our idea prior to winter break, we spent the majority of winter break in formalizing a rough draft. The first rough draft was all over the place. It was messy, and I suppose that was expected. We scratched the entire thing and started over. The overarching goal for the podcast was to tell the story of our local Live Art program, while simultaneously telling the story of inclusive arts across the world.

Through the process of researching for this podcast, we realized the lack of support for inclusive art organizations in the US. Many individuals with disabilities do not get the opportunities they need to participate in the performing arts and are often left out. This isn’t to say that there aren’t any organizations working towards providing fair opportunities. While organizations such as the Jason Mraz Foundation support inclusive arts across the country, there is still more work to be done.

We had to go through multiple rough drafts and make hundreds of revisions until we settled on the final draft in the first week of February. We were set to record that weekend. It wasn’t very hard to record. We booked a conference room at our local library and set up our phones to record. We put the script up on the TV and recorded our lines. We had a fun time.

What Now?

After recording and running through the entire script we were ready. Or so we thought. When we had first finalized on the idea of doing a podcast on SPARC’s Live Art program, I had reached out to the director of the program for an interview. I had not received a response for a while, and I had forgotten about it. As luck would have it, I received a response the day we were recording. At this point, we had scratched the possibility of an interview and we didn’t know where we would fit it in during the editing process. We were left with no choice but to wing it, and luckily, it paid off.

We quickly put together a set of questions to ask and the next day we called and did the interview. We learned so much and it was great talking to Maura Sinnenberg (the head of Live Art). After the interview was over, I got to work editing and piecing together the entire thing. In a few hours and multiple trials, I was able to fit the interview into the podcast and I would say it paid off. We had pulled it off.

We feel really proud of what we accomplished. We told the story of an amazing organization that is making our community a better place and that was the main goal. We are very thankful for the Live Art program, and our mentor, for continuous support throughout the process. Even if we don’t win, we enjoyed creating this podcast and it was definitely worth it. You can listen to the full podcast below.

“Cruisin” – Pacific
“Moonlight” – Pacific

Author: Eshan

I am Eshan Vishwakarma. A 17-year-old filmmaker, writer, and, photographer. I am interested in learning about myself, and that is what this blog is for. I write about my journeys, struggles, and aspirations. I also, occasionally, write about topics I truly believe in. Through this blog, I feel a little more connected with my true self. If you are interested, check out the blog and leave a comment if you like the stuff I write. Thank you for coming!

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