• Third Coast Festival
  • Navy Pier
  • 848 East Grand
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • 60611-3509

2015 Competition Judges


Shirley Alfaro is a native Chicagoan who has a background in theater and social work. For over ten years Shirley has worked in art and community administration within various nonprofits throughout the city. In 2013, Shirley transitioned into the world of media as the regional manager for StoryCorps in Chicago. She has a strong passion for the arts, education, and social justice and has been fortunate to combine all of these loves in her professional and personal pursuits. (Radio Impact)


Julia Barton is a long-time public media editor, reporter and producer. Her work has appeared on Radiolab, 99% Invisible, PRI's The World, Studio 360, Life of the Law and other programs. She lives in Brooklyn with her family and online at juliabarton.com. (Final round)


Chris Brookes is an independent radio producer based in Newfoundland who has crafted audio documentaries professionally for three decades. His documentaries range from current-affairs to features to music documentaries to ars acoustica. They have won many international awards including the Peabody Award and the Prix Italia. He has directed documentaries for Canadian network television, is a published author and playwright, and has taught documentary storytelling at workshops in North America and Europe. (First round)


Jesse Cox is a producer with ABC RN’s Creative Audio Unit, and presenter of the weekly show Radiotonic. A two time winner at the Third Coast International Audio Festival (Best Documentary: Silver & Director’s Choice) Jesse has also created sound installations in beach showers, as geo-locative apps, and performed documentary stories live on stage. He was co-creator of RN’s Long Story Short and FBi Radio’s All the Best. (First round)


Phyllis Fletcher is managing editor of the Northwest News Network, a collaboration of public radio stations in Idaho, Oregon and Washington state. She and her reporters have been recognized with regional and national awards for investigative reporting and superb audio storytelling. Phyllis is an occasional contributor to the American Public Media podcast Too Beautiful To Live. (First round)


Jonathan Goldstein is a frequent contributor to This American Life and a co-recipient of the 2002 Third Coast / Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Competition Gold Prize. He's a columnist for the National Post and the former host/producer of PRI’s Wiretap. At present he is working on a new podcast for Gimlet Media. (Final round)


Ruxandra Guidi has fifteen years of experience working in public radio, magazines, and multimedia, and has reported throughout the United States, the Caribbean, South and Central America, as well as Mexico and the U.S.-Mexico border region. She currently serves as a board member of Homelands Productions and the Association of Independents in Radio (AIR), and she’s also a producer with Homelands Productions and Fonografia Collective  A native of Venezuela, she’s currently based in Quito, Ecuador. (First round)

Rikke Houd is a Danish radio maker occupied with real life stories, imagined ones and the sounds and silences that weave it all together. She also teaches radio and has created several transnational collaborative radio feature projects. Rikke has produced for Third Ear, Falling Tree/BBC, NRK, SR, Third Ear, KNR, CBC and more and her work has been adapted and screened internationally. Houd's piece The woman on the Ice produced for the Danish podcast Thirdear.dk. is won the 2015 In the Dark Sheffield audio award.  (First round)


Martin Johnson is the creative director at Ljudbang productions in Stockholm and the co-founder of the Sarahs award. 2008 he won Prix Italia for his documentary My Father Takes a Vacation, the same year the documentary was awarded with the Swedish Public Service prize Ikaros. His work has been broadcast around the world in England, Canada, USA, Hungary, Italy, Finland and Ireland. His collection of essays called “The Ocean” was published in 2012 with much critical acclaim and is translated into several languages. (Final round)


David Kestenbaum has been a correspondent at National Public Radio since 1999. He currently covers the economy as part of the Planet Money team. (Final round)


Sarah Kate Kramer is a producer at Radio Diaries, where she works with Joe Richman to produce audio diaries and documentaries. Her adventures in radio began a decade ago, when she got hooked on collecting stories as a StoryCorps facilitator. She then traveled to Morocco on Fulbright Fellowship (taking her microphone along) before settling down in her hometown of NYC. Before joining Radio Diaries in 2012, she was editor of Feet in 2 Worlds and a freelancer for WNYC Radio. (First round)


Gary Marx is an investigative reporter at the Chicago Tribune and a three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, including in 2015. Marx started at the Tribune in 1988 and was the newspaper’s South America correspondent from 1990 to 1994. Upon returning to Chicago, he covered criminal justice and was on the Tribune's investigative team before rejoining the foreign staff in 2002 based in Havana, Cuba. During his career, Marx has covered numerous armed conflicts and U.S. military operations, and his investigations have led to indictments for murder and other crimes, and sparked sweeping reform. (Radio Impact)


Shereen Marisol Meraji reports on race, culture and ethnicity for NPR’s Code Switch. Her stories center on the real people affected by the issues, not the experts and academics studying them. The best career advice Meraji ever received was from veteran radio journalist Alex Chadwick, who said, "When you see a herd of reporters chasing the same story, run in the opposite direction." She's since invested in multiple pairs of running shoes. (Final round)


Matt Thompson is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, the vice-chairman of the board of the Center for Public Integrity, and a cofounder of the Spark Camp event series. He came to The Atlantic from NPR after spending five years launching and overseeing beat-driven coverage teams, both at NPR and with member stations. He's also (very slowly) writing a musical about journalism. (Final round)


Robyn Semien is a producer at This American Life. She joined the show in 2007, after working as a TV editor for This American Life's Showtime series. She's produced and reported some favorites at TAL, including 129 Cars, Help Wanted, Right to Remain Silent, Cops See it Differently, and recently, Birds & Bees. She also produced "Live at BAM," the critically acclaimed live show which became The Radio Drama episode for This American Life, and won a Peabody as a producer on the Harper High School series. (Final round)


Jenna Weiss-Berman is BuzzFeed's director of audio, where she produces Another Round and edits Internet Explorer. She has worked on many podcasts, from The Moth to The Organist to the Longform Podcast to Death Sex & Money and beyond! Basically, Jenna loves podcasts and radio and works way too much. (First round)

KALW is a national-award-winning public media organization in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to carrying internationally syndicated programming, it produces regional news and cultural content every day. KALW's philosophy is that there isn't enough joyful, informative media that engages people across the divides in our community – economic, social, and cultural – so our job is to make it. The entire news department staff will represent KALW in judging the best news feature for the 2015 TC/RHDF Competition. (Best News Feature)














































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