Big Ship Diary
Allison Swaim


WBEZ's Front and Center, USA, 2012
TCF Winners
Industry, Work
11 57


Each year, over 100 million tons of iron ore, coal, limestone and other products travel through the Great Lakes navigation system on huge cargo ships.

Producer Allison Swaim takes us on board one of these ships: the MV Calumet, where she joined seventeen crew members who call the ship home for a month at a time.

Allison Swaim won the Best New Artist Award in the 2012 Third Coast/Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Competition. Her documentary, Big Ship Diary, was produced with editor Cecilia Vaisman for WBEZ Chicago's series Front and Center.

Listen to all nine winners of the TC/RHDF Competition, here.


Allison Swaim grew up in Salisbury, North Carolina, home of Cheerwine. She caught the radio bug during a month-long stint as reporter at Radio Victoria in rural El Salvador. Training in sound at the Salt Institute and Oberlin Conservatory followed. From July 2011 to July 2012, Swaim circumnavigated the globe by cargo ship to collect stories from sailors and other folks who work in shipping.


Winner photo by Vanessa Churchill Photography.

Read more about Allison's adventures at sea.

Hear all nine winners of the 2012 TC/RHDF Competition.