Best Serialized Story (BSS)

The Best Serialized Story (BSS) category awards narrative audio stories that unfold over multiple episodes, chapters, or installments that build on a larger narrative or concept — exactly how is open to the interpretation of the creator or creators.

For some entries, each episode in the series may explicitly build on what came before to create a single cohesive narrative arc; another serialized story may contain more disparate or conceptually linked parts that reflect a broader narrative or concept, like an anthology or a collection. Also eligible are limited series or single seasons of ongoing shows that are thematically linked in some way, or a limited series from an ongoing show whose format may not usually be serialized.

Excited to enter the Best Serialized Story category? Get prepared by reviewing the information below.

About this Category

Background

The Best Serialized Story category was created in 2017 after the serialized format erupted in the narrative audio industry (as it continues to do!) There is one Award-winner in this category, honored with a cash prize, unique physical award, and recognition around the world, including a public showcase of comments from the judges. We now offer a list of Third Coast Finalists in this category, announced alongside Award-Winners. Learn more about all of our Competition Offerings, and share your input to help us expand them in the future.

Eligibility Information
  • Length: Multiple episodes that, in combination, equal 75 minutes-15 hours
  • Publication: Must have been published between September 1, 2020 and March 10, 2023
  • Format: Multiple audio files (one per episode). All advertisements or sponsorship segments must be removed from the audio files — this includes previews for upcoming episodes of this or other shows.
  • Language: There are no language requirements for this category. If you are entering work in a non-English language, you must provide a translated transcript.
Entry Rates

For the cheapest rates, enter before our Early Deadline of January 13. Check out our complete breakdown of sliding scale rates across all categories. (Don’t worry, the entry form will also guide you through the process of determining your rate!)

Note: As a Pilot Offering this year, we're honoring our Early Deadline rates through the Final Deadline for all non-English Language entries in any category.

Rates are shaped by our Collective Pricing philosophy, which distributes cost according to entrants’ access to resources.

Entry Checklist
  • Audio files (.mp3 preferred, .wav also accepted) with all ads removed
  • Total length of the series (Minutes:Seconds)
  • Link to a published version of the series
  • Full credits (host, producer, sound designer, editor, etc.)
  • Description/summary of the series
  • Transcript (optional for English-language series, required for non-English)

Best Serialized Story FAQ

How do I enter this category?

If your entry meets the eligibility requirements above, you may select “Best Serialized Story” on the entry form.

How do I know if my series is eligible for the Best Serialized Story category?

Ask yourself if the episodes in the series stand alone, and if they could be entered & judged separately even though they are on the same topic. If so, then the answer is no, and you should enter the strongest episodes or stories of your series into the Best Documentary category.

On the other hand, if your series is a single narrative, told over multiple parts, where each episode must be heard sequentially, then you should enter your series into the Best Serialized Story category. If you're still not sure, please write to us for clarification at competition@thirdcoastfestival.org.

Not all of my episodes have been published yet. Can I still enter?

As long as you meet the general eligibility requirements (the episodes will finish being released in March), then you may enter before all episodes have been published.

Can I enter my submission for Best Serialized Story (BSS) to be judged for other award categories as well?

Yes. If you are entering the Best Serialized Story category, your entry is automatically considered for Directors’ Choice. It may also be eligible for Best New Artist, Impact and Best Documentary in a Non-English Language.

To be considered for another award category such as Best Documentary, Best Documentary: Short, or Best News Feature, you may enter a single episode of your series if it meets the eligibility guidelines of that category. We recommend entering a single episode within a series if it would make sense to a first-time listener as a standalone piece.

If you decide to enter an individual episode or episodes in addition to a complete series, we will judge it separately; you will need to enter this episode as a separate entry, fill out information for that episode separately, and pay the associated entry fee. The episode will then be judged as a standalone piece under whichever award category you have selected.

Why is this category priced differently than the other categories?

Because it takes significantly more time to listen to and process each serialized story entered into the Competition, the entry fee is higher. If the cost is prohibitive to you, please contact us: competition@thirdcoastfestival.org


Missing something? Check the General FAQ or read through the Competition Entry Guide.

Past Recipients

2020 Somebody

When Shapearl Wells's son Courtney is found outside a Chicago police station with a fatal bullet wound, Shapearl immediately distrusts the official narrative.

2019 In the Dark: Season Two

Over the course of two decades, prosecutor Doug Evans tried the same man six times for the same crime. But that man, Curtis Flowers, maintained his innocence throughout.

2018 Missing and Murdered: Finding Cleo

Where is Cleo? It’s a mystery her family has been trying to unravel for decades after the young Cree girl was apprehended by child welfare workers in Saskatchewan, Canada in the 1970’s.