The call for entries has CLOSED. Thanks to all who entered!

Since 2001, the TC/RHDF Competition has celebrated the best audio storytelling produced worldwide. We've honored over 130 extraordinary works from four continents, and bestowed $250,000 in cash prizes to many of the most innovative producers in radio & podcasts.

Announcing... the 2017 TC/RHDF Competition Judges

Dig into all ten 2016 TC/RHDF Competition winners, plus learn more about the year's best at Current Magazine and NPR's All Things Considered .

Entry Guidelines


$35 for student entries uploaded on or before Tuesday, June 13 at noon PDT.

$55 for entries uploaded on or before Tuesday, June 13 at noon PDT.

$75 for all entries uploaded Tuesday, June 13 after noon PDT through Tuesday, July 11 at noon PDT.

Entries uploaded after July 11 at noon PDT will not be judged.

ENTER the 2017 TC/RHDF Competition!


Entries must range between 3 and 60 minutes in length, with the exception of Best News Feature submissions, which can not exceed 12 minutes.

Entries must have been produced and presented publicly for the first time on the radio, the Internet, via podcast or in a public setting (i.e. gallery, museum, classroom) between July 2015 and July 2017.

Entries must be produced in English, with the exception of the Best Doc: Foreign Language category!

Work featured on this website or on Re:sound is still eligible for entry into the competition.

Each producer must sign the release and license agreement on the entry form, which provides Third Coast with broadcast and Internet rights to present submissions in their entireties as part of Best of the Best: The 2016 Third Coast Festival Broadcast between October 2017 and October 2019.


Entries should consist of an individual documentary or feature.

Each documentary in a series is a separate entry.

Each feature within a program that presents multiple pieces is a separate entry.

Each episode from a podcast is a separate entry.


Entries are only accepted through Submittable, where you'll find clear instructions for uploading your story. Submittable will be able to answer your tech questions, for everything else email Third Coast or call us at 312-948-4682.

Each entry should consist of one MP3 audio file.

Entries should not contain audio other than entry material. Please exclude billboards, ledes, promos for other programs and advertisements.


One MP3 audio file per entry

Brief producer bio (80 words max)

A text version of the host lede, or a short intro for the entry (150 words max)

Entry fee

For Radio Impact entries only: Statement of Impact (500 words max)

For Best Doc: Foreign Language entries only: Bilingual English and original language transcript


Payment by credit card / PayPal is strongly recommended but checks are accepted only for entries submitted by the early deadline, June 13 at noon PDT. Checks must be mailed/postmarked by the early deadline, June 13.

Please contact us to pay by check.

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BEST DOCUMENTARY AWARDSGold prize $4,000; Silver prize $3,000; Bronze prize $2,000; Honorable Mention $1,000
Entries for the Best Documentary category should document a place, time, person, event, phenomenon or issue. These include but are not limited to: investigative reports, narrative stories, personal essays and audio portraits. We’re interested in work with a social mission and stories that entertain. Musical and historical documentaries are welcome. Profiles and cultural snapshots are welcome. Podcasts and other programs that redefine the documentary form are welcome. (Length eligibility 3-60 minutes)

TCIAF will award an exceptional documentary produced in a language other than English. As an international award, we are thrilled to open up the TC/RHDF to local makers in countries throughout the world.

English transcript AND original language transcript are required, with a time stamp at the end of each page.

This award is given by Third Coast staff to an entry that strongly demonstrates innovation and creativity in storytelling, sound design and/or overall production style. (Length eligibility 3-60 minutes)

The Best News Feature (BNF) category honors exceptional news features reported by radio newsrooms and independent reporters 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.

BNF entries should exhibit exemplary reporting and journalistic integrity. As with Best Documentary entries, BNF submissions should begin with a compelling story choice, and exhibit strong writing, creativity and the use of sound where appropriate. BNF entries are not eligible for the Best Documentary Award. (Length eligibility 3-12 minutes)

This award is presented to a producer who entered the audio field between July 2015 and July 2017. To qualify, each entrant must have recorded, written and mixed her/his entry. It is permissible to have worked with an editor, as long as she/he performed in an advisory capacity only. Co-productions are not eligible in this category. (Length eligibility 3-60 minutes)

BNA candidates must confirm on the entry form that their submission was produced in accordance with the guidelines listed above.

This award recognizes a single documentary or feature (regardless of style or structure) that has significantly impacted an individual, group or community. 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. (Length eligibility 3-60 minutes)

For a submission to be considered for the Radio Impact Award, candidates must include a statement (500 words max) on the entry form that offers clear and concise examples of the story's impact.

This award recognizes stories that are out for fun. Credit to Ira Glass for urging us to create this award with these true words: These stories often require just as much craft and thought and cunning as the big important stuff. Radio would be duller and sadder without them. (Length eligibility 3-60 minutes)


  • Prizes ranging from $1000 to $4000
  • A license for Hindenburg Journalist Pro editing software
  • A gratis pass to the 2017 Third Coast Conference, November 9-11 in Chicago (a $425 value).
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Is there a limit to how many documentaries or features I can enter?

Nope. But we recommend that individual producers submit their top three stories and that radio shows/podcasts enter their top six stories produced within the two-year eligibility window (July 2015 - July 2017.)

May I enter a series as a single entry?

Sorry, but the answer (again) is no. Each individual episode or story from your series is a single entry. We recommend you enter the strongest episodes/stories from the series and if one wins an award, the entire series will be recognized.

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, such as All Things Considered or Snap Judgment , is a separate entry. Enter the strongest story, and if it wins a prize, the program will be recognized too.

Should I include the audio of the host lede/intro that was read before my story aired, as part of my entry?

Please don't! You'll be prompted to submit a written version of the host lede/intro (150 word max) when you upload your entry at Submittable. The audio portion of your entry should consist only of the actual story.

How should I decide whether to enter my work as a Best Documentary or Best News Feature?

BNF entries should be driven by events and news. It's okay if content becomes dated or if these works have a local feel. Documentaries should be relatively timeless in nature, and should transcend geographic location. Also, BNF entries can not exceed 12 minutes, while BD entries can run up to 60 minutes.

Is my Best News Feature entry eligible for Radio Impact or the Skylarking awards and visa versa?

Yes, just make sure to check the applicable boxes on the entry form.

Is my Best Doc: Foreign Language entry eligible for other awards as well?

We consider non-English works for the Best Documentary: Foreign Language category and for Directors Choice awards.

How should I format my English-language transcript for my Best Doc: Foreign Language entry?

All Best Doc: Foreign Language entries must be accompanied by an easy to read pdf transcript in English as well as in the original language in which the documentary was produced. The font must be 12-point or larger, double spaced, and should include TIME STAMPS once every minute. There is an optional space on the entry form for a brief summary of any cultural context useful for reviewers.

How is the Best New Artist category judged?

This prize is awarded to someone who entered the audio field in the past two years, and who demonstrates both considerable skill and potential in his/her work. To qualify, a producer must have recorded, written, and mixed their entry. If you're wondering if you qualify, please contact us directly.

What information should I include in my Radio Impact statement?

You should describe the tangible impact your story has had on a life or community. For example, did your story encourage policy-makers to take a new approach, neighbors to protest the status quo or individuals to make significant changes in their lives? See the sample RI statement in the right hand column for additional guidance.

May I enter my fictional podcast for an award?

While Third Coast loves the new wave of audio fiction happening out in the world, the TC/RHDF Competition is for non-fiction. That said , if your non-fiction work contains elements of fiction, or plays along the fuzzy line of fact/faction, we do encourage you to enter it. For your straight-up fictional programs, we highly recommend you check out The Sarah Awards.

May co-producers submit an entry together?

Sure, with one exception, co-productions are not eligible for the Best New Artist Award.

May I submit an entry for the Best New Artist Award if I've collaborated with musicians?

We do want to encourage this sort of thing, so at the risk of complicating matters, yes!

How do I know if my story/entry qualifies for the Skylarking Award?

We'll quote Ira Glass on this one, since he inspired the award:

Now and then it occurs to me that some of my very favorite radio stories would never ever win an award. Because they’re not about anything Big and Serious and Important. There’s a whole class of stories I love hearing and love doing that really are just out for fun.

Where’s the award you can win for a story about a guy and his girlfriend who decide to take a Rumspringa from their relationship and sleep with as many other people as possible? Where’s the prize for the seven-minute interview with a guy from Calgary, who learns, mid-interview, that the boosterish “Hello Calgary” song that filled him with local pride growing up was actually used by a hundred other cities (“Hello Rochester” “Hello Knoxville” “Hello Milwaukee”)?

These stories require just as much craft and thought and cunning as the big important stuff. Radio would be duller and sadder without them. They make the world a better place.

How can you tell if your story qualifies? Run it through this checklist:

1) Could it win another prize at Third Coast? If so, it’s probably too important a story for the Skylarking Award.

2) Are the stakes low? Answer to this one should be “yes.”

3) Is the story really fun to listen to? The answer better be “yes” with an exclamation point. This prize exists only to reward fun. It can be fun plus other, bigger emotions, sure. It can be fun plus interesting ideas, absolutely. But it has to be happily, willfully, cheerfully, out to entertain.

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

Yes, as long as your entry fits into our window of eligibility – meaning it was first presented publicly on a podcast, broadcast, via Internet or in a public setting (gallery/museum/classroom/etc) between July 2015 and July 2017. Repeat entries have indeed won awards the second time around.

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


Is it possible to pay for my entry by check?

We strongly encourage you to pay by credit card or Paypal but if your only option is to pay by check please contact us. We will accept checks only for entries submitted by the early deadline - Tuesday, June 13 at noon PDT.

When will winners be notified?

Winners will be notified in early September with the good news.

When will the winners be announced to the world?

We'll announce the winners publicly in October, but won't reveal which specific award they've won until the Awards Celebration on November 11 in Chicago. We'll also live tweet the winners as they're announced!

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