So you want to produce content for Distillations?
Distillations is an award-winning bi-monthly podcast produced in the public radio style by the Chemical Heritage Foundation. With each show, we explore themes related to the past, present, and future of chemistry and the molecular sciences in a creative, sound-rich, and informative way. Host Meir Rinde introduces each show and narrates introductions to 2-3 segments for each episode. Shows generally consist of one feature story and one interview or written segment (reviews, commentaries, historical portraits, etc.).
How to Get Involved:
If you would like to be included on the Distillations producers' email list, please send an email to Senior Producer Mia Lobel. Please include a brief explanation of your production experience, what kind of equipment you use, where you are based, how best to contact you, and any relevant links to your previous work.
To PITCH a story, first be sure to listen to some of our past shows to get a sense of our style. We always welcome new ideas, but stories must have a clear connection to chemistry. Keep in mind that chemistry is everywhere! If you have a great idea that you think might fit with our show, but you aren't sure about the chemistry connection, drop us a line and we can help you figure it out.
Also note that the best features try to answer some question and have some amount of tension or conflict to keep the listener interested. We also love our features to have an historical angle. Sometimes this can be achieved with whatever written segment accompanies your piece, but if you can include that in your feature, all the better. And of course, the more sound you can incorporate, the happier we'll be!
Send your pitches to Senior Producer Mia Lobel. Pitches must include the following:
–A short paragraph explaining your idea including why we should care about this issue. Why is this story interesting/important? Where is the tension/conflict?
–2-3 sources you will tap for information and/or sound-rich interviews
–2-3 potential scenes/sound-design elements that will make your feature come to life.
Please note that we do not accept phone tape. We can occasionally pay for a stringer/tape sync to record a source in a remote location, but we prefer you pitch us something close to where you live. You'll get better sound this way and develop a better relationship with your sources. We will reimburse for mileage at the standard IRS rate if necessary (within reason). All tape sync and mileage expenses must be approved in advance by Executive Producer Jennifer Dionisio.
We currently accept content in the following forms:
Investigative features (occasional special series): 5-10 minutes on a complex topic related to chemistry. These are generally part of occasional special series we put together. We do not take cold pitches for these. These stories involve time-consuming research and original reporting with multiple interviews. They require the reporter to have good prior knowledge of the subject matter. And they depend on a sophisticated narrative, sound-rich scene-setting, and compelling storytelling. ($750-1200)
Standard features (the bulk of what we do on Distillations): 5-10 minutes on a topic related to chemistry. These pieces involve multiple interviews, most of which are conducted on location. The stories involve sounds, scenes, and advanced radio storytelling techniques. The reporter doesn't need to fully understand the topic when they begin reporting, but should have a solid grasp of the themes and scientific concepts by the time they are done. ($500-1000)
Short features (occasional, quick-turnaround pieces, straight interviews, or written and recorded segments): Interviews are typically 10-15 minutes with notable scientists/researchers. Written segments are generally 2 minutes read aloud, or 300-400 words depending how fast you speak. These pieces typical involve 1-2 research/background interviews. They require straight-forward or minimal narration. They require less extensive use of sound and scenes. ($200-400)
Raw interviews, VOX, event coverage: You gather the tape, we edit it. Please make sure to mic your questions and collect plenty of roomtone/ambi. Straight interviews should last no longer than 30 minutes as they will be edited down to 10-15 minutes. ($200)
Photos: Original photographs to use on our website—max of one photo/story, though we'd love to have a choice of image if available. ($50)
Our pay range is based on the complexity of the story and your history with Distillations. If you've been working with us for awhile, you'll automatically jump to the appropriate level. If you're new, we hope this tiered structure encourages you to keep those pitches coming!
A – You have a strong, long-standing relationship with Distillations and have produced at least 5 pieces for us.
B – You've worked with us before and have produced at least 3 pieces for us.
C – You're new to Distillations and have reported fewer than 3 pieces for us.
Please understand that we reserve the right to determine when you move up the scale, even if you're produced the required number of stories. For example, if you do not mix your own work, we will require a few additional reported pieces before you jump to the next level. Please feel free to email Senior Producer Mia Lobel if you have any questions about where you stand.
We look forward to hearing your ideas!
-The Distillations Team