More on our Process


A Culture of Listening

As a Competition staff, we listen to every single entry that comes in through the Competition. After an extensive process of reviewing the work, we determine a final group of entries in each category that we share with a small cohort of peer judges: members of the audio industry whose own perspectives combine with our listening values to ultimately determine our annual Award-winners in every category. These decisions are made through a series of facilitated conversations: what we hope is a powerful experience for the peer judges to deepen their critical listening skills and deepen connections with one another. We are working on ways of sharing that unique process of judging, and insights from the judges themselves, in our showcase of standout work. Check out the comments from the judges, highlighting each Award-winner, in last year’s Competition Showcase!

Listening is not a science, nor does it come with an objective rubric for evaluation. But cultivating a practice of deep listening is part of our mission as an organization. At the same time, our work is founded on challenging — and eliminating — barriers to entry, which come along with a call for entries to a competition. There’s a tension there that maybe we can never fully resolve, but that’s the project we embark on year after year.

Here is some insight into our goals, as Third Coast staff members, when we take on the great responsibility of listening. (We also offer these values to our selected judges as guidance.) Through evaluating work entered to the Competition, we hope to:

  • Create a meaningful snapshot of the world in audio by challenging the past, igniting the future, and disrupting the status quo
  • Build an engine for our year-round programming and for uplifting BIPOC producers and historically marginalized subjects
  • Reach a wider, more global audience than ever before, and showcase audio storytelling that truly comes from across the globe

More on our process

We take careful notes to learn about you and your work, compiling a database of entries and entrants. We also include questions on our entry form that help us to gauge how accessible our current programming is for entrants, and where more support is needed.

We use this information in a few ways: as an “engine for programming,” as well as data that can support these field building efforts, like residencies, mentorship programs, collective pricing rates, and maker sessions. We also look for patterns and themes that reflect the most urgent topics in narrative audio storytelling, which in turn shapes much of our programming. We seek inspiring and innovative approaches from producers, who we sometimes follow-up directly about other opportunities, programs and collaborations. And we use this information to start a dialogue with all entrants, who we hope to support over the arc of their careers — both within the Competition and beyond.

This year, we’re excited to introduce the concept of Pilot Offerings, which we hope can radically broaden what the annual competition cycle offers. Please share your input with us through the Community Input Survey!