How To Submit A Commentary

Dec 12, 2016

If you're interested in submitting possible commentaries to VPR, here's what you need to know:

We currently rotate more than 50 commentators through nine available slots each week, but we consider additional viewpoints that complement - not duplicate - those already represented in the series. We rarely consider single essays, since the pre-air investment of time and energy for both writer and broadcaster is considerable. Rather, we tend to look for regional writers with informed perspectives that will be of continuing interest and value to the listening community.

We usually do not include active major office holders or candidates in the commentary series.

Because of the large volume of submissions, we will be in touch if it appears that your work will fit the series with a minimum of revision.

Please send all proposals by email. This should include topic ideas or draft text or both, pasted into the body of the email. Please do not send attachments. You may send your commentary proposal to Betty Smith.

You are welcome to send multiple topic ideas, but one complete draft text will serve as a writing sample. Please limit writing samples to those written specifically for this series. Do not send samples written for other purposes.

Radio writing tips:

  • An individual commentary should focus on one main idea.
  • Keep the language simple. Use declarative sentences and a narrative style—think storytelling.
  • Each script may not exceed three minutes when read aloud - usually that's fewer than 360 words.
  • Edit ruthlessly, as we will do the same!
  • Topics should have clear public service value, or demonstrative value to a listener.

Please send a resume or short bio articulating your field of expertise - also preferably in the body of a regular email. Please do not send originals or request a return of materials, even with a SASE.

Please do not send CDs, tapes, or audio files. In the event that we are interested in taking the next step with you, we will record an audition in one of our regional studios. Successful auditions are reviewed for broadcast approval. When an audition is approved, a broadcast schedule is determined. Typical frequency for new commentators is currently about once a month.

Copyright and ownership issues are addressed in a basic contract agreement. VPR provides a $50 honorarium for each broadcast essay. Repeat broadcasts of the same commentary do not receive additional  honoraria. Commentators may choose to waive the honorarium and donate their commentaries to VPR.  Commentaries are recorded in one of our regional studios; VPR can reimburse mileage expenses for travel to and from the studio.

We do not provide studio-produced copies of commentaries to commentators or to the public, due to the additional material/studio/staff costs incurred. Complementary transcripts are provided to the public upon request, and both text and audio are posted on our website.

We also do not usually offer regional commentaries to NPR. If the national network is your ultimate objective, your direct approach to NPR is recommended, though we will assist you with contact information and provide technical services to NPR, if they request it.