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2020 Categories


There are eight categories in the Competition, and a single entry may be eligible for more than one category at no additional charge. The submission form will guide you through which category to enter. (Please keep in mind that Third Coast may move your entry to another eligible category without notifying you, if we feel the entry will be more competitive in that category.)

Note: Your entry must have been produced and available publicly for the first time on radio, podcast, internet, or in a public setting (including but not limited to a theater, gallery, museum, classroom, etc) between April 7, 2018 and May 25. The only exception to this is for the Audio Unbound category: in its inaugural year, we are accepting entries that have been produced and available publicly for the first time between April 7, 2016 and May 25, 2020.

Best Documentary (3 Awards: Gold, Silver, Bronze)

Best Documentary (BD) is one of the founding categories of the TC/RHDF Competition. This category awards narrative audio stories grounded in documentary and non-fiction storytelling. These often include, but are not limited to: longform journalism, investigation, documentary, personal essay, and audio portrait. We welcome work that blur styles, including the lines between “fact” and “fiction.” We’re interested in stories that innovate, inform, and inspire; we’re interested in stories that haven’t been told before — or are now being told in a new way. Eligibility: 10-75 minutes

Best Serialized Story (1 Award)

Created in 2018, Best Serialized Story (BSS) awards narrative audio stories told in multiple episodes, chapters, or installments. In a serialized story, each episodic part must build on a larger narrative. For example, the entirety of Missing and Murdered: Finding Cleo which won our 2018 BSS Award. Also eligible are limited series created by ongoing shows, such as Silent Evidence , which was a mini-series produced by The Heart in 2016. Finally, a BSS can be a single season of an ongoing show that follows one narrative, such as Start-Up Season 4 about Dov Charney (7 episodes total). Eligibility: Multiple episodes that, in combination, equal 75 minutes-10 hours.

Best Documentary: Short (1 Award)

New award! Best Documentary: Short (BDS) awards stories that are short on time, but not short on craft or ambition! We created this category because we believe that short form audio stories deserve a platform and a spotlight—and are a different conceptual beast than longer documentary projects. We are looking for stories that accomplish the extraordinary in a short period of time. Eligibility: 0-10 minutes.

Best New Artist (1 Award)

The Best New Artist (BNA) award is presented to an outstanding emerging producer (or producers) who entered the audio field between April 2018 and May 2020. Eligibility: no length restrictions. To qualify for this category, the entrant(s) must have recorded, written, and mixed the entry on their own; Individuals or teams may have worked with an editor or editors, as long as they contributed to the entry in an advisory capacity only. Co-productions between groups of Best New Artists, per the definition above, who are collaborating in recording, mixing, and editing are permitted. Co-productions involving a new producer but made up of more seasoned producers who are also recording, mixing, and editing are not eligible in this category. See the FAQ for more specifics.

Best Documentary: Non-English Language (1 Award)

Through the Best Documentary: Non-English Language Award (BNEL), Third Coast celebrates outstanding audio work produced in languages other than English, from anywhere in the world. (Formerly known as the Best Documentary: Foreign Language award) New update! Entries in non-English languages will be considered for other categories where they are eligible. However, this category remains a place to specifically award a single excellent work in a language other than English. Eligibility: no length restrictions. Must provide a translated transcript with time codes.

Impact (1 Award)

The Impact award recognizes a single audio story that has significantly impacted an individual, group or community. We are looking for work that has directly created definable change. This can be an investigative report that influenced public debate or a radio story that changed the course of an individual’s life, or something else entirely. Eligibility: no length restrictions. Must provide a statement of the work’s impact.

Audio Unbound (1 Award)

New award! Audio Unbound (AU) awards audio works that experiment with format, function, genre, and go beyond the typical podcast feed or broadcast airwaves. We are interested in boundary-breaking multimedia uses of sound, objects, imagery, and/or experiences. This is a call to audio producers, as well as to artists of all stripes: performance, installation, sound, and more!

Above all, this category awards creativity and innovation anchored in audio but that tells a story or delivers a narrative across mediums and platforms, broadly defined. You can also think of this category as being: “beyond the podcast feed.” Entries to this category may be unbound from the words we usually use to describe audio and may include, but are not limited to: audio installations, audio-based theater, audio tours, and non-definable projects that forefront audio in new and interesting ways. Please see the FAQ for further details. *Eligibility: 0-3 hours. You may choose to upload additional files for this category (images, video, websites, text), but one single audio file (.mp3) is still required. Must also provide an artists’ statement outlining why the work should be considered for this category. For the first year of this category, we are accepting work made between April 7, 2016 and May 25, 2020.

Director’s Choice (1 Award)

Unlike the rest of our juried awards, the Directors Choice award is a unique opportunity for Third Coast staff to award an exceptional work that they believe is critical to the current and future landscape of audio storytelling. Eligibility: all entries are automatically considered for this award, regardless of length or language.

Best News Feature (1 Award)

The Best News Feature (BNF) award honors exceptional news features reported worldwide. Submissions should be stories (local, national, international) produced in response to events and issues. Enterprising work that brings new stories to light is also encouraged. News Shorts may include journalistic formats beyond traditional documentary, including the two-way, essay, or other forms used via radio and podcast. Eligibility: 0-20 minutes.