R2 is eager to work with partners both inside and outside George Mason University who want to create compelling, story-based historical podcasts that will appeal to a broad audience. In the pitching guidelines below we lay out the ways you can explain your idea, why people would want to listen, and who you think those listeners will be. When you write your pitch, be sure to explain the hook—the thing about your proposed show that will bring in a large number of listeners and keep them coming back for more.
However, we are looking for very particular types of shows that match up with our studio mission and values. Thus, we’ve established some guidelines that you should follow if you want to pitch a show to R2.
The first thing you need to do is submit a brief document with some key information. Then, if your idea sounds like the kind of show that fits with our mission and values and has the potential to grow a strong audience, we’ll schedule a time where you can pitch us (that’s the head of the studio, RRCHNM’s executive director, and other relevant folks). Following that pitch session, if it seems like your idea is a good match with where we’re going as a studio, we’ll get into the nuts and bolts of how to turn your show into a reality.
The second thing you need to do is read the questions below and answer them for yourself and your team. We may be the right place to realize your dream, but we may not.
Before you consider pitching
There are a few questions you should ask yourself or your team before developing a pitch for us.
- Is your show primarily an interview show?
- Right now we’re not considering shows that are primarily interview shows.
- Is the audience for your show primarily academic?
- Our mission is to create shows that appeal to the widest possible audience, so shows that primarily target an academic audience are not a good fit with that mission.
- Is your show about history?
- We’re a studio that produces podcasts about history. If your show is not primarily a show about history, meaning the vast majority of the content is about the past, then you will want to look to other studios that might help you realize your dream.
- Will you be able to put in the effort to make this show?
- The kinds of shows we produce are decidedly not low-touch or low-time. You should plan to make a lot of time available for the work—for writing, interviewing, research, collaboration, audio production, and marketing. If you’re an academic, your show may require you to think about writing and communicating in a whole new style—there’s a significant learning curve when it comes to creating a podcast, even if you’re not doing any of the technical work. And, finally, this work requires a lot of ego-checking: all R2 shows are 100% team efforts, and every member of each team has a real say in how the final product sounds. You need to be okay with the idea that the script you wrote for an episode isn’t the script that is ultimately recorded.
The next thing you need to do is send us an email with the following information. Be as comprehensive as you can in answering these questions, in particular the questions about audience.
- In twenty-five words or fewer, what is your show about?
- What form will your show take? (Narrative? Embedded reporting? Interview? Roundtable?)
- Who is your show’s primary audience? How large do you believe that audience to be and why? (Concrete numbers are really good here.)
- What shows already exist that are comparable to what you envision? Why would your show attract an audience that may already be listening to those other shows?
- What kind of funding, if any, do you have available to create this show? What can that funding be spent on? What can it not be spent on?
- Are there other organizations who might be interested in contributing to this show, either monetarily or in some other way?
- What experience do you have in creating a podcast?
Once we’ve read through your initial pitch, if we’d like to hear more, we’ll invite you to a second-round pitch.
If we want to hear more about your show idea, we’ll schedule a time to have you present your idea to us. At that time, we’ll ask for these things:
- A list of the proposed episodes and an idea of how many seasons you envision
- A precis or detailed treatment of one episode that is representative of what you want to do
- A budget for creating the show
- Personnel needs: who besides you will be working on this show? What will they be doing?
- Any potential external partners or affiliates
- A potential marketing plan
If this second-round pitch is successful, then we’ll invite you to move forward with the planning and eventual execution of your show.
- Do I need external funding in hand in order to pitch to R2?
- No. It is nice, though. Funding is a consideration in whether we can greenlight your idea or not in part because our funding is limited.
- If you’re considering a podcast as a part of a grant application, we must be included in those conversations BEFORE the grant application is submitted.
- External funding does not guarantee a green light from R2 Studios. We select shows first and foremost based on their match with our goals and mission.
- Who at R2 is going to help me make my show if it gets greenlighted?
- All R2 shows are overseen by the head of studio, who gets listed as “executive producer.” But we will figure out who else will help you with audio production, storytelling, and editing based on what kinds of experience you already have.
- What kinds of shows do we really want to hear about?
- We’re open to hearing about anything, but we are really interested in telling the stories of people and things that don’t get a lot of press elsewhere. We’re also interested in hearing from folks who don’t get a lot of air time to tell stories. In particular, we’re really interested in hearing from people who are underrepresented in the audio space.
- I want to do something that doesn’t sound exactly like what you already do. Would you still be interested?
- Yes! Our goal for R2 is to push the boundaries of what’s possible in historical audio. If you want to do something innovative, we want to hear about it!