An Intimate Look at How 'Up First', NPR's News Podcast Is Made Fresh Every Day
Maybe you want to prioritize getting your daily dose of news, but don't have the time to sit down and read a newspaper or listen to a long-form podcast. NPR's Up First gives you the news you need, fresh every day, researched and reported by the expert journalists of NPR, in under 10 minutes. Today, we are offering a behind-the-scenes look at how Up First is made. Many different Morning Edition staff members are involved in the making of Up First, and over a 12-hour period in December 2018 we had the opportunity to follow some of the Up First team members through their work days to learn the ins-and-outs of how the show is created and ready to go every day.
3:30 p.m. Swing pass off meeting
The Morning Edition team discusses the day's news and potential stories for the next day's podcast.
3:45-4:30 p.m. Planning editor discusses Up First stories with desk editors
After the team meets and picks the three most important stories to include in the podcast, the Planning Editor for the day, Catherine Whelan, discusses them with the relevant desk editors. The desk editors' expertise on their areas of coverage help Catherine craft accurate, thorough script.
4:30-5:00 p.m. Hub call
At 4:30 p.m., Catherine heads to the hub call. The hub call is a daily meeting that brings together all of NPR's various desks and news programs. They discuss any upcoming news, and update each other on the stories they plan to cover that day.
5:00-10:30 p.m. Preparing news stories
Catherine works until 11:00 p.m., and spends the rest of her day preparing scripts and pulling sound for use by the overnight team. Scripts are sent to the reporters and their editors for feedback as well. Catherine notes that, depending on what news takes place over night, some or all of the stories scheduled for the morning podcast may be scrapped for more current content. At 11 p.m., Catherine will hand off the stories she has been working on to the overnight podcast producer and overnight editor working that night, Kelli Wessinger and Daniella Cheslow, respectively. These are rotating roles between Morning Editionproducers and editors, so different members on the team will edit or produce on any given day.
10:30 p.m. Overnight team takes over
At 10:30 p.m., the overnight team, consisting of one producer and one editor, comes in. Daniella and Kelli will work from 11:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. refining and drafting the podcast that will hit your feed at 6 a.m.
3:30 a.m.-4:30 a.m. Host, producer, and editor prep for podcast
When we left the team the night before, they had picked three stories to air for the morning's podcast. By the time we arrived again at 3:30 a.m., two of the three stories had been scrapped and replaced with breaking news from overnight.
4:30-5:07 a.m. Pre-production
Producers, editor, and director are in the studio with the host pre-recording introductions, as well as re-recording for mispronunciations and clarity.
5:07 a.m. Up First is Recorded live in the studio
Hosts record Up First live in-studio at NPR Headquarters in Washington, D.C.. On the day we shadowed, Rachel Martin and David Greene were hosting but Up-First has two other hosts, Steve Inskeep and Noel King. Hosts, editors, and producers of the show rotate based on schedules.
5:20-6:00 a.m Final edits
Daniella and Kelli transform what the hosts record in the studio into the podcast you end up listening to. They add pre-produced elements into the live version and add in or modify tape. Occasionally, during this time hosts are pulled from the studio to re-track elements of the podcast.
6:00 a.m. Up First is published
Up First is ready for your podcast feed just 40 minutes after recording. Tune in every morning for the freshest, most relevant news.
Up First is hosted by Rachel Martin, David Greene, Steve Inskeep, and Noel King with reporting and analysis from NPR News and is available weekdays by 6 a.m. ET.
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