This puzzle was originally written for episode 317 (10/16/21) of Fill Me In. Thanks to Brian and Ryan for running my first meta as their contest puzzle and thanks to everyone who solved or sent in an answer. Congrats to the contest winner announced in episode 319 (11/2/21)!
The contest is now over, but you can still solve the puzzle below. This is a meta puzzle, which means there is a puzzle-within-a-puzzle - a secret answer to be found. The original puzzle file from the podcast had the grid solution hidden; in this version the check and reveal functions will work and your choice of solving software will indicate when you've correctly solved the puzzle. If you need help with the meta, here's a few hints (plug these into https://rot13.com/ to decode)
Hint 1: Gur nafjre vf n pbzzba sbhe yrggre jbeq
Hint 2: Eryrinag ragevrf ner gur svir ybat npebffrf: fvkgrra, gjragl-bar, guvegl-fvk, sbegl-frira, svsgl-fvk
Hint 3: Nyy bs gubfr ragevrf ner gjb-jbeq pbzcbhaq jbeqf
Hint 4: Gurer vf n fvatyr sbhe-yrggre jbeq gung jura pbzovarq jvgu rnpu bs gubfr gra fho-pbzcbhaq jbeq perngrf arj pbzcbhaq jbeqf
Hint 5: Gur chmmyr gvgyr, "Gnxr n Oernx" vf nabgure uvag. Nabgure gvgyr sbe guvf chmmyr vs vg jrera'g n zrgn pbhyq or nabgure frira-yrggre pbzcbhaq jbeq.
Answer: Nafjre vf GVZR
If you're new to Fill Me In, it's a crossword podcast, or at least that's what it pretends to be. Most of the time, it's about other things (including, but not limited to: soup, Thor, Viewer Mail, sandwiches, baseball, and much more), but occasionally also crosswords.
Norah, An Expert in Sconces