Third Coast Competition Frequently Asked Questions

A Note from the Third Coast Team

Hi there,

Thanks for visiting Frequently Asked Questions page. Before you dive in, we hope that you might take a second to support our We Need Third Coast Campaign (#WeNeedThirdCoast) for our annual Competition — made by makers, for makers!

We are working to raise $50,000 in order to re-launch Third Coast’s Competition as an independent program by July 2024. To learn more, and make a donation, click here.

Thanks for reading,
The team at Third Coast


Below are answers to 2022-23 General FAQ questions. For category-specific questions & answers, please search by individual Competition Category.

Is there a limit to how many entries I or my team can submit?

There is no limit to how many entries you can enter into our Competition, as long as each entry meets the category requirements and the eligibility window of September 1, 2020 through March 10, 2023 (or, for the Audio Unbound category: September 1, 2019 through March 10, 2023).

May I enter a program or show that includes a number of separate stories and interviews?

Each story within a program that presents multiple stories should be submitted as a separate entry (such as stories within typical episodes of All Things Considered or Snap Judgment, or acts within This American Life). We suggest entering your strongest stories, and if any of them wins a prize, the show will be recognized, too.

Can I enter a trailer for a piece of work I’ve made/I’m making?

Please don’t! While we all love a good trailer for a series or a show, we don’t currently consider trailers to be eligible for any of our categories.

If my entry is too long, can I enter an excerpt of it?

Yes, but we don’t necessarily recommend it. Third Coast seeks to award stories in their fullest form. There are some exceptions, but a general rule of thumb is that any excerpted story should still stand alone on its own, and, as stated in the question above, should not serve as a trailer for the piece of work in its fullest form.

Can I enter my story in multiple award categories?

Yes, provided that it meets the eligibility requirements of each category and that you submit any necessary additional information for each category alongside your entry. Please read through the descriptions and requirements for each category on their respective pages.

I see the word “documentary” come up a lot as it relates to your Competition. Can I enter a piece that includes fictional elements?

The bottom line is that at Third Coast, we are interested in narrative audio storytelling in all its forms, and we seek to blur the boundaries between documentary and fiction. While we don’t explicitly have a category for fictional work, we do believe that fictional storytelling, or fictional elements in non-fiction storytelling, can be powerful tools for demonstrating truth, documenting lived experience, and translating the past, present, and future into sound. If you are interested in the connections between fiction and documentary, and if you are willing to articulate those connections to us in the written portion of your entry, we very much think your work has a place in our Competition.

May I enter the same piece two years in a row?

Yes, as long as this specific entry fits into our window of eligibility and has not previously been honored as either a Winner or Finalist in the Third Coast/RHDF Competition. (For further clarification about those cases, see the FAQ questions “Can I enter work that has won previous awards and prizes?” and “May I enter the same piece two years in a row if it was honored as a Third Coast Winner or Finalist the year before?”)

In order for a piece to be eligible for this year’s Call for Entries, it must have first been presented publicly on a podcast, broadcast, online, or in a public setting (including, but not limited to, a theater, gallery, museum, classroom, event space, etc.) between September 1, 2020 and March 10, 2023, or, for Audio Unbound, September 1, 2019 and March 10, 2023. Repeat entries have won awards on their second submission attempt in the past.

If you’re not sure whether or not a piece you’re interested in entering has already been honored by Third Coast as a Winner or Finalist, or if you’re still confused about whether or not your work is eligible, please reach out to us for clarification.

Can I enter a piece of work that has won previous awards and prizes?

Yes, so long as the work has previously won an award from a different organization, and has not won a Third Coast/RHDF Competition Award. If you have previously entered a piece of work that was recognized as a Winner or Finalist in the Third Coast/RHDF Competition, we ask that you not enter it to our Call for Entries again.

You can definitely enter work that has been recognized or awarded outside of the Third Coast Competition So long as the specific work hasn’t previously won a Third Coast award and fits our guidelines of eligibility, you are welcome to enter it into the TC/RHDF Competition!

If you’re still confused about whether or not your work is eligible, please reach out to us for clarification.

May I enter the same piece two years in a row if it was honored as a Third Coast Winner or Finalist during a previous Third Coast/RHDF Competition Cycle?

No. If a piece in the Third Coast/RHDF Competition has been honored as either an Award-Winner or a Finalist, that piece can’t be entered to future Calls for Entry, even if the piece is otherwise eligible. We make this distinction and ask you not to re-submit a piece that has already been honored in our competition for a few reasons:

Our goal is always to honor a broad and diverse range of work from across the audio industry. Honoring an individual piece as a Winner or Finalist only once is one way we stick to that mandate. We’ve always always said that Award-Winning pieces in our competition are no longer eligible to win another Award in our competition – now, that’s true for Finalists as well: if a piece has already been named as a Finalist, it is no longer eligible to be recognized as a Finalist or Award-Winner (and vice versa!)

Remember that while you cannot enter the same individual piece of work that has already been recognized as an Award-Winner or Finalist in the Third Coast/RHDF Competition, you are more than welcome — in fact, you’re encouraged — to enter other work! We always want to hear more work from makers, no matter how many times they have previously entered or been recognized in our Competition. Also, if the piece you received recognition for from our Competition is one episode or series from a show, podcast, or project that continues to produce new work, we welcome other pieces (whether those are individual episodes or series) from that same show, podcast or project.

If you’re not sure whether or not a piece you’re interested in entering has already been honored by Third Coast as a Winner or Finalist, or if you’re still confused about whether or not your work is eligible, please reach out to us for clarification.

A piece of work that I submitted was honored as a Finalist or an Award-Winner in a previous year. Can I submit a new piece of work this year?

Yes! While we do not hand out repeat honors for a single piece of work, we do not have any rules against giving honors to a producer or team who have previously won an award for a new piece of work they’ve created.

May co-producers submit an entry together?


May I submit work produced for commercial radio and other commercial venues?

Yes! But please remove any ads that aren't part of the work itself. See the question in the Preparing Entries section below regarding ad removal requirements and specifications.

Does work need to have been aired on a radio show, podcast or broadcast to be entered?

Not at all! We welcome work that has not been broadcast or greenlit by an outlet or show. We require all work to have been published publicly, and that includes self-publication (e.g. on a personal Soundcloud or a similar hosting site.)

When will entrants be notified?

Winners will be notified before all other entrants in the late spring of 2023. All other entrants will be notified shortly thereafter.

When will the winners be announced?

We'll announce the winners publicly in the summer of 2023, but won't reveal which specific award they've won until the 2023 Awards Celebration.

May I enter on behalf of someone else?

Yes, but please note that you will need detailed information about each entry. If you don’t have this information readily available, you may need to contact the maker or team.

And you should never submit any piece of work without the explicit consent of its creators.

What happened to the Skylarking category?

Over the years we noticed that, again and again, the pieces submitted to the Skylarking category were becoming finalists in the Best Documentary Competition, and as the field — and our Competition — expanded, the lines of Skylarking were starting to become blurred, even for us! So we have put a pause on the category, with the knowledge that we’ll carry the intention (and the history) of the category into our critical dialogue within the Competition. (Thanks, Ira.) If you were considering submitting your piece into Skylarking, please consider submitting into one of the other categories.

What is the deadline by which my audio work should be published publicly to be eligible for the Competition?

Your audio work should be published by the Final Deadline of March 10, 2023 (5:00 PM CST).

I made a mistake when filling out the submission form, and didn’t notice until I received my confirmation email. Can I edit my entry after I've submitted it?

Yes! Just email us at with your correction, and we'll make sure to update your entry to reflect it.

How do I enter the Directors’ Choice category?

All entries submitted to the Competition are automatically considered for Directors’ Choice.

What categories should I submit my piece for? It could be considered so many different things!

There is no limit to the number of categories into which you can enter a single piece, and there is no penalty for submitting a piece incorrectly into a category where it is not eligible. If you aren’t sure if your entry is eligible for a particular category — even after reading the category descriptions — go ahead and enter the category anyway. Third Coast staff will consider your entry in whichever category(s) that it fits, and where it will be the most competitive. We're rooting for you! (And we would never move your entry into a category that would make it less competitive.)

My entry is XX:XX long… how does this impact eligibility?

Certain categories are determined by the length of your entry, so be sure to check the individual category eligibility pages. Best Documentary: Short entries must be shorter than 10 minutes. Best Documentary entries must be 10-75 minutes long. Best Serialized Story entries are longer than 75 minutes and broken apart into multiple episodes, with a total length of under 15 hours. Audio Unbound entries must be shorter than 5 hours. Best News Feature entries must be under 20 minutes long.

Other categories do not have time-based requirements.

How do I know that my submissions were properly received?

Once you finish checking out on our entry form, you should reach a page on the form that reads: “Submission Successful: Thank you for entering the 2022-2023 Third Coast / Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Competition!” Shortly thereafter, you should receive a confirmation email, including a receipt, to the contact email you submitted your entry with. (Make sure you check your spam!) If you don’t receive this email within 24 hours and believe you did finish the submission process, please reach out to us directly.

Who are this year’s Judges?

Third Coast annually curates and personally invites groups of experts in the industry to serve as Judges for the TC/RHDF Competition. Judges are selected from a diverse pool of experienced makers, editors, journalists, and more to represent a breadth of perspectives and approaches to audio storytelling. *We will announce the Judges for the 2022-23 Competition in 2023!

What happens if a Judge or Third Coast staff member has ties to my work, or there’s otherwise a conflict of interest?

Don’t worry — this comes up often. We ask anyone judging work to be honest in disclosing any ties they have to entries during the entry process. If a Third Coast staff member or Judge has participated in the creation of an entry or believes they are too close to the entry for another reason, they are asked to recuse themselves from any discussion that might influence final decision-making.

I worked on this entry with, or received input from, one of Third Coast's Board Members. Can I enter it?

You are still able to enter this work according to our Board Member Competition Entry Policy. Through this process, we are committed to remaining transparent, and ensuring that the involvement of a Third Coast Board Member in the creation of an entry does not affect or compromise its status in our Competition in any way. All of our current Board Members are aware of this policy as well. If you would like to read the policy in full, please reach out.

Category-Specific Eligibility

If you are looking for eligibility information & FAQs for a specific category, please click on that category in the list below:

Preparing Entries

For an overview of how to prepare an entry, visit our How to Enter page or read through eligibility, offerings and additional materials by individual category.

What do I need to prepare before entering?

Decide which categories you’d like to enter, and make sure you're eligible for them. Then, check out the detailed checklist of what you’ll need to prepare for each category on its category page. (Some categories have specific requirements, such as transcripts, written statements, or additional documentation.)

All categories require: at least one audio file, a description of the entry, full credits, and an entry fee.

Should I include the audio of the host lede/intro that was read before my story aired, as part of my entry? Should I leave in the ads, promos, and billboards from the original show as part of my entry?

No, no, and no. (And don’t worry, a lot of people get confused about this!) Generally speaking, the rule is to cut out any promotional material (unless that’s somehow part of the story) and any host-read ledes or credits that aren’t essential to understanding the story itself.

Can I submit my entry as a .wav file?

Yes. We prefer .mp3 files for digital storage, but there are no penalties for submitting .wav file(s).

Is there a maximum file size my entry file should be?

Thanks for asking! If possible, we’d appreciate it if each file that you’re uploading is less than 100 MB.

Can I submit a video with English-language subtitles in addition to transcripts of the piece?

Yes, we love subtitled videos! Please include the link in the "Entry Summary" field. Alternatively, if you run out of space in the Entry Summary, you can add a page or paragraph to your transcript PDF with a link to the video.

Entry Form & Payment

What rate should I select when I’m entering my work?

Our rates are broken down into two length-based tiers, for all entries shorter than 75 minutes and entries longer than 75 minutes. Within each tier, we ask entrants to consider who is paying for the entry and the financial means of that person or organization. In general, the “Access Rate” is reserved for individuals in need of an affordable fee option, particularly individuals who would not otherwise be able to afford to enter the competition. We ask that institutions covering the costs of entries on behalf of employees, students, or other associated makers, pay at least the “True Cost” rate. We ask that for-profit institutions select the “For-Profit” rate to help cover the cost of lowering barriers of access for folks paying the Access Rate. Your honesty and thoughtful participation in Collective Pricing enables us to better understand today’s audio landscape, and how makers are supported in entering our programs.

Why do you ask who is paying for the entry fee(s)?

We use this information to help us maintain and improve upon our Collective Pricing model.

I can’t afford the Access Rate. Are there other options for me?

While we rely on income from entry rates to partially fund Competition administration & operations, price should not be a barrier to entry.

If you are an international entrant from a country not included on the list of top 25 countries by GDP, the entry form will give you the option to select a discount of 10%, 25%, 50%, or 75% from your total entry cost. For example, if you are entering one entry at the Access Rate and one serialized story at the Access Rate, and you select a 75% discount, your total cost would be ($100 + $40) x 0.25 = $35.

If you live in one of the top 25 countries by GDP and need a further reduction of your entry fee, please contact us:

I keep getting error messages! What do I do?

Sorry to hear that! We’ve tried to streamline the submission form as much as possible, but we know that technology (and we) are not perfect. If you’re having technical issues with the form that you can’t resolve, please email us ( and we’ll help find a solution.

I’m confused about the Entrant Agreement. Can you tell me more about it?

This agreement does a couple of things: First, it provides Third Coast with the right to showcase your work in our programming. This includes sharing your entry in its entirety during live events (either virtual or in-person); on the Third Coast website; in social media, our newsletter, and on other marketing platforms in association with the TC/RHDF Competition. It does not take away your ownership of the piece, nor does it grant Third Coast the right to publish the entry on podcast or the radio. You’ll be notified if we choose to highlight your piece in one of these ways. In the case that your entry is chosen as a winner or finalist, we will ask you to sign a more comprehensive agreement that grants us the right to publish on radio & podcast.

Second, the agreement allows Third Coast to advocate for your entry in discussions, including by moving your entry into a category where it might be more competitive.

Finally, the agreement asks that you keep us up-to-date with all changes in your contact information, and gives us permission to reach out to you directly with questions about your work.

Got Other Questions?

Check out the category-specific pages (also listed above), including category-specific FAQs, or email us at