PST, THIRD COAST IS BACK THIS FALL — in a new, virtual world. Join us for much-needed audio community & inspiration in: Third Place.

The Judges!


We spend hours each year mulling over the selection of Competition Judges. We are looking for judges who...

  • have a strong connection to the category itself;
  • can be deeply inspired by, and critical of, narrative audio storytelling;
  • are willing to be in dialogue, together: to learn from others;
  • come from all corners of the audio industry, and also from “outside”;
  • bring essential perspective from intersecting industries & mediums.

This year, we invited 20 judges across seven judging groups. Click through the groups below to get to know each & every one of the judges!

Best New Artist (BNA) Judges...

Our judges for the Best New Artist category are deeply seasoned listeners who are most excited by hearing stories, voices and styles that burst through the expected. We chose these judges for their creativity, their generosity, and their enduring dedication to uplifting emerging voices in the industry. Introducing the 2020 BNA Judges:

Cristal Duhaime (Montreal, Canada)

Phyllis Fletcher (Seattle, WA)

Gwen Macsai (Chicago, IL)

Best Documentary: Non-English Language (BDNEL) Judges...

Our judges for the Best Documentary: Non-English Language award believe that language is core to the power of story. We chose these judges for their ingenious audio craft in languages other than English, and for their commitment to multi-lingual work across continents. (Note: Entries in non-English languages are also 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.) Introducing the 2020 BDNEL Judges:

Neena Pathak (New York City, NY)

Ramsey Tesdell (Amman, Jordan)

Jonathan Zenti (Milan, Italy)

Audio Unbound (AU) Judges...

Our inaugural (!) Audio Unbound judges are each accomplished interdisciplinary artists & storytellers whose work has inspired us, in part, to create this very category. Our goal in creating the first cohort of Audio Unbound judges was not only to come away with a winning piece, but to generate dialogue that examined, at its heart, the possibilities of further “unbinding” narrative audio. We can’t wait to continue exploring the concept of “unbound” with all of you, too. Introducing the 2020 AU Judges:

Tempestt Hazel (Chicago, IL)

Eleanor McDowall (London, UK)

Niela Orr (Philadelphia, PA)

Best News Feature (BNF) Judges...

In a time of deep introspection and urgent calls for change across journalism and public media, we sought Best News Feature Judges who have already committed their careers to critically examining and re-imagining the ways we create, contain, and expand the production of news & media. In a year of shaking and reckoning, we chose three individuals to bridge conversation between institutions, geographic place, and formats. Introducing the 2020 BNF Judges:

Emily Kwong (Washington D.C.)

Graham Lee Brewer (Norman, OK)

Tonya Mosley (Los Angeles, CA)

Impact Judges...

Storytelling with a purpose is what drives the Impact category, and it is what inspired our invitation to this years’ judges for the category. Through their work and passions, these judges have demonstrated their critical thinking around what happens after the story is published. We brought these judges together to ask questions like: who is this story for, how was it crafted, and what defines impact? Introducing the 2020 Impact Judges:

Yana Kunichoff (Chicago, IL)

Garth Mullins (Vancouver, Canada)

Tina Vasquez (Winston-Salem, NC)

Best Documentary, Best Documentary: Short, Best Serialized Story Judges (BD/BDS/BSS)...

This year, we asked five judges to choose the winners of Best Documentary: Gold, Silver & Bronze, Best Documentary: Short & Best Serialized Story, respectively. We invited judges whose careers are marked by extraordinary work inside and out of the audio industry. Many of this year’s judges for these categories had previously won Third Coast/RHDF Competition awards themselves. Introducing the 2020 BD/BD:S/BSS Judges:

Hanif Abdurraqib (Columbus, OH)

B.A. Parker (New York City, NY)

Sayre Quevedo (Los Angeles, CA)

Connie Walker (New York City, NY / Toronto, Canada)

Joel Werner (Sydney, Australia)

Director’s Choice (DC) Judges...

It’s us! Yes, us, the staff of Third Coast.

All 731 entries were eligible for the Directors’ Choice award. The finalists in this category are typically our favorite entries from across categories. But does that mean the Directors’ Choice winner is only based on what we like most? Yes and no! We see the 11 winning pieces as a body of work. So, when selecting this final winner, yes we are looking for a piece we love, but we’re also looking for a piece that reflects an important facet of storytelling that is underrepresented in the group of winners. Introducing the 2020 Director’s Choice judges:

Shirley Alfaro (Chicago, IL)

Maya Goldberg-Safir (Chicago, IL)

Emily Kennedy (Chicago, IL)

Jackson Roach (Chicago, IL)

Isabel Vázquez (Chicago, IL)