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Here are the NPR College Podcast Challenge finalists

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

For three years now, NPR has run a competition to find the best college podcasts in America. And this time around, NPR's College Podcast challenge received more than 500 entries. Students from around the country chose a story, wrote a script, recorded and edited their audio, and sent it in. Our judges have listened to all of them and narrowed the list down to 10 finalists. Here's NPR's Janet Woojeong Lee with a few of these great podcasts.

JANET WOOJEONG LEE, BYLINE: Anna Schnakenberg is 19, a college sophomore from Springfield, Mo.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "BREAKING FROM THE BIBLE BELT")

ANNA SCHNAKENBERG: I always loved the music. The music was my favorite part.

LEE: And she's the subject of a podcast by Meghan McKinney, a recent grad from Missouri State University. McKinney's reporting tells how Anna grew up in a conservative Christian family and came to challenge those beliefs.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "BREAKING FROM THE BIBLE BELT")

SCHNAKENBERG: My mom would always harp on me, and she would sing me this little song. (Singing to the tune of "Frere Jacques") Revelation, Revelation 21:8, 21:8, if you lie, you will fry, burn, burn, burn. Burn, burn, burn.

MEGHAN MCKINNEY: Did it make you feel like you were going to go to hell?

SCHNAKENBERG: Yes. And I remember asking my mom one time, Mom, am I going to heaven or hell? And I was really worried because I did not know.

LEE: Our 10 finalists this year showed a remarkable diversity in the range of topics - religion, gender, climate change, youth activism and a perennial favorite - personal narratives about identity or family.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "DEAR LITTLE SISTER")

TRINITY HUNT: Hi. I'm Trinity. I'm a junior in college. And four months ago, my little sister Jewel left home to head to Army Basic Training for the United States.

LEE: Trinity Hunt studies public relations at the University of Delaware.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "DEAR LITTLE SISTER")

HUNT: It is no small feat to watch from afar as your 18-year-old sister goes through one of the most difficult challenges that anyone could ever experience.

LEE: Hunt's podcast, "Dear Little Sister," is a collection of letters between the two siblings.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "DEAR LITTLE SISTER")

HUNT: Dear little sister, Sundays are like torture. I spend the entire day hoping that you'll call. Once 3 p.m. rolls around, my heart starts racing, and I can't focus on anything else.

LEE: And when she manages to get Jewel on the phone, Hunt tries to distract her sister from the harsh adjustment to military life. And the best way to do that? Catching her up on new music.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "DEAR LITTLE SISTER")

JEWEL: Cardi B and who?

HUNT: Megan Thee Stallion have a new song.

JEWEL: Are you serious?

HUNT: Here, wait, let me play you a snippet.

LEE: And then, for something completely different, this podcast jumped out at us like a jolt of caffeine in the morning.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "THE FLUID DYNAMICS OF COFFEE")

ROBERT LAKATOSH: Maybe a little cream, a little sugar - whatever you put in your coffee, you'll likely have to stir it.

LEE: That's Robert Lakatosh, a sophomore physics major at Tennessee Tech. He gave us five delightful minutes about a scientific quest to find the best way to stir a cup of java.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "THE FLUID DYNAMICS OF COFFEE")

LAKATOSH: Hang with me for a second. Imagine how much more efficient your life could be if you knew exactly the fastest way to stir your coffee.

LEE: Lakatosh admits it's unlikely that his experiment will change lives. Nevertheless, he takes us to the school's physics lab, where he 3D prints his own design for a smart stirring tool.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "THE FLUID DYNAMICS OF COFFEE")

LAKATOSH: And it looks kind of like a honey stirrer, except there are these four gears at the end with a lattice of hexagon holes cut in them. And leaving aside that it's an otherwise pointless one-use item, this thing actually works.

LEE: Congratulations to our 10 finalists. Each of them will get a $500 cash prize. You can hear all their entries at npr.org/studentpodcastchallenge. And we'll be back in late March to announce our grand prize winner. Janet Woojeong Lee, NPR News, New York.

(SOUNDBITE OF JUICE WRLD SONG, "THE LIGHT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Janet W. Lee
[Copyright 2024 NPR]