• Third Coast Festival
  • Navy Pier
  • 848 East Grand
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • 60611-3509


Best Documentary Awards

Gold prize—$4,000
Silver prize—$3,000
Bronze prize—$2,000
Honorable Mention prizes (up to 2)—$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 documentaries that redefine the documentary form are welcome. (Length eligibility 3-60 minutes)


Directors' Choice Award—$1,000

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)


Best News Feature—$1,000

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 2-10 minutes)


Best New Artist Award—$1,000

This award is presented to a producer who entered the audio field between July 2012 and July 2014. 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.


Radio Impact Award—$1,000

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.

Announcing: the Little Mermaid - $1,000

This award, created by Ira Glass of This American Life, recognizes a single documentary or story that is FUN in subject matter and style. (Length eligibility 3-60 minutes)

Ira Glass writes: 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 doing that really are just out for fun. 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. So I suggested to the Third Coast that they start an award for these stories and I’m excited to say they said yes! We’re calling it the Little Mermaid, inspired by this 2002 story by Jonathan Goldstein, which is purely out for fun. 

Read the full letter from Ira, including a checklist to know if your story qualifies, in our FAQ.

All winning producers will receive:

- Prizes ranging from $1000 to $4000
- A license for Hindenburg Journalist Pro editing software
- A gratis registration (one per winning entry) to the 2014 Third Coast Conference, November 7-9 in Chicago.

More Information

Entry Guidelines
Upload Your Entry




Call for Entries announced: May 6

Early deadline:
June 12, noon PDT

Late deadline:
July 10, noon PDT

Winners notified:
late August

Winners announced:
October 8

Awards Ceremony:
November 9 (Chicago, IL)

The 2014 Awards Ceremony is sponsored by:

Each winner will receive a license for Hindenburg Journalist Pro editing software.


Entry Guidelines


comp Questions?

Email us or call 312-948-4682.


Looking for inspiration? Listen to some winners of past TC/RHDF Competitions.

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