2020 Call for Stories: Audio Under the Stars
Call for Stories: Audio Under the Stars

Audio Under the Stars, North Carolina’s summer-long outdoor audio festival, is looking for pitches and stories for our 2020 season. Launched in 2014, Audio Under the Stars returns for its seventh season in 2020.

The deadline for submissions is midnight (EST) on Saturday, February 29.

What kind of stories are you looking for?

We are looking for true stories that focus on human relationships, with strong characters, a narrative arc, and a clear sense of what's at stake. We do not accept recordings of live storytelling, interviews or chat-casts, or audio fiction. You can listen to a selection of stories from past shows here.

We are happy to consider story pitches (an idea for a story, not yet produced), works in progress, and already produced pieces. You can submit a story based on our 2020 themes or submit to our miscellanea category. Final stories can run between 4-15 minutes.

Who should submit stories?

Producers should have prior experience with field recording, interviewing, script writing, and audio editing.

We are especially interested in working with producers of color and people whose voices are not usually represented in public media.

Is there funding for producing a story?

Yes. All story pitches and stories submitted by producers will be considered for funding thanks to a grant from the Durham Arts Council.

What is the timeline for producing a story?

The deadline for submissions is midnight (EST) on Saturday, February 29.

If your pitch/work in progress is selected, we will work with you to develop and produce your story during March and April. Your deadline for completing your story will be at the end of May. If you are submitting a finished story, we may ask for changes in order for your story to be included in the 2020 season. Due to grant reporting and season planning requirements, the production timeline and final deadline are not negotiable. Your story will air in our summer 2020 season, and then you are welcome to pitch it elsewhere.

What’s in it for me?

In addition to a modest honorarium, producers will get one-on-one consulting throughout the editing process this spring. We have years of experience in audio editing and we can help bring your story idea to life, or help make your work in progress stronger.

Your story will then be played to our enthusiastic audience (an average event draws 400-500 people) and showcased on our Soundcloud page. This is a unique opportunity to create a work with the Audio Under the Stars team and have your story presented at our one of a kind event series.

You’ll also have a completed piece you are welcome to pitch elsewhere once our season ends.

Themes for the 2020 Season of Audio Under the Stars

Kith and Kin

From the nuclear household to the tales of your ancestors, we’re looking for family stories of all kinds. We want to hear about found families, cherished bonds, dysfunctional dynamics, the family moments you treasure and the ones you can’t wait to leave behind. What does it mean to form a family? Or leave one? How do we navigate the complicated relationships that help shape who we are?

Fight or Flight: Stories of Resistance and Escape

We’re looking for stories about people getting through tough times: making a stand, taking a punch, overcoming hardship, overthrowing a government. Or the flipside: how to escape, literally or figuratively, including stories about taking a break, dodging a bullet, slipping away, finding refuge or what it means to get free. Stories that deal with sub-themes of air, travel, and/or the animal kingdom also welcome.


Think city dwellers escaping to the wilderness. Displaced wildlife wandering into urban settings. People on the move across the planet, either by choice or circumstance. We’re looking for stories that tackle all aspects of the great outdoors, from animal encounters to environmental advocacy. How do we fit into the natural world? How do we adapt to a planet that’s changing?


Got a great story or pitch that doesn’t fit the above themes that you think we need to hear? Send it along and we’ll consider it for future AUTS shows.

Ready to pitch?

Share your story idea, work in progress, or produced story by answering a few simple questions here: bit.ly/AUTS2020. Pitch as many stories as you'd like, no later than midnight (EST) on Saturday, February 29.


We’d love to help! Email us at audiounderthestars@gmail.com.

About Audio Under the Stars

The mission of Audio Under the Stars is to create community around audio storytelling through producing, curating, and sharing audio stories. Audio Under the Stars is a summer-long audio festival based in Durham, N.C. We collect fascinating stories from all over —with a focus on local flavor—and each month during the summer we invite you to our garden to lean back and listen. Audio Under the Stars features the kind of audio stories you might hear on podcasts or public radio. We bring the listening experience out of your earbuds and into the outdoors, where audience members can share each twist, turn, tragedy or triumph together. Hosted in the garden at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, Audio Under the Stars is a one-of-a-kind experience.

Audio Under the Stars is the creation of Jenny March and Elizabeth Friend, made possible with the support of the Center for Documentary Studies and many volunteers. It began as a venue to showcase local audio documentary work, and has grown to include radio-makers from around the world. To learn more about Audio Under the Stars, you can visit our website, audiounderthestars.org.
Your name: *
Your answer
Your email address: *
Your answer
What is your level of experience with audio production? (Please check all that apply.) *
Your story title: *
If you're submitting a pitch, this title can be a working title.
Your answer
If you are pitching a new story idea, how will you record your interview(s)/narration?
Your answer
If you're pitching a story in progress, please provide a link to a sample clip of audio from that story here:
Your answer
If you've produced audio stories before, please provide up to three links of any previous audio work you'd like to share:
Your answer
If your audio story is fully produced, please provide a link to the story here:
This is not required if you're pitching to us!
Your answer
Who is the story about? *
Your answer
Who is telling the story? *
Your answer
What happens in the story? Be as specific as you can. *
Your answer
Why would a listener care about this story? *
Your answer
At the heart of stories is change. Who, or what, changes in your story? *
Your answer
What theme would you like your pitch/story to be considered for? *
Do you feel that you or the characters in your story represent a point of view that is underrepresented in public media? If yes, please briefly explain. *
Your answer
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