Third Coast Competition FAQ

The following is a list of our most frequently asked questions about the Competition. This list is regularly updated throughout the 2021 Competition season.

Done reading? Go back to the 2021 Call for Entries landing page. Ready to send in your work? Enter now.


Is there a limit to how many entries I or my team can submit?

There is no limit to how many entries you can enter into our Competition, as long as each entry meets the category requirements and the eligibility window of February 1, 2019 through May 11, 2021 (or, for the Audio Unbound category: February 1, 2017 through May 11, 2021). Note that our submission form will only allow you to submit five or fewer entries at a time; you will need to fill out additional forms for each subsequent round of five or fewer entries.

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 should be submitted as a separate entry (such as stories within typical episodes of All Things Considered or Snap Judgment , or acts within This American Life ). Enter your strongest stories, and if any of them wins a prize, the show will be recognized, too.

Can I enter a trailer for a piece of work I’ve made/I’m making?

Please don’t! While we all love a good trailer for a series or a show, we don’t currently consider trailers to be eligible for any of our categories.

If my entry is too long, can I enter an excerpt of it?

Yes, but we don’t necessarily recommend it. Third Coast seeks to award stories in their fullest form. There are some exceptions, and a general rule of thumb is that any excerpted story should still stand alone on its own, and, as stated in the question above, should not serve as a trailer for the piece of work in its fullest form.

Can I enter my story in multiple award categories?

Yes, provided that it meets the eligibility requirements of each category and that you provide any necessary additional information for each category. Please read through the descriptions and requirements for each category on their respective pages.

Can I enter a piece that includes fictional elements?

The bottom line is that at Third Coast, we are interested in narrative audio storytelling in all its forms, and we seek to blur the boundaries between documentary and fiction. While we don’t explicitly have a category for fictional work, we do believe that fictional storytelling, or fictional elements in non-fiction storytelling, can be powerful tools for demonstrating truth, documenting lived experience, and translating the past, present & future into sound. If you are interested in the connections between fiction and documentary, and if you are willing to articulate those connections to us in your entry, we very much think your work has a place in our Competition.

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

Yes, as long as your entry fits into our window of eligibility—meaning that it was first presented publicly on a podcast, broadcast, online, or in a public setting (including, but not limited to, a theater, gallery, museum, classroom, event space, etc.) between February 1, 2019 and May 11, 2021. Repeat entries have won awards the second time around in the past. (Note that the entry window for Audio Unbound is February 1, 2017 through May 11, 2021.)

May co-producers submit an entry together?


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

Yep! But please remove any ads that aren't part of the work itself.

When will entrants be notified?

Winners will be notified before all other entrants in the fall of 2021. All other entrants will be notified shortly thereafter.

When will the winners be announced?

We'll announce the winners publicly in the fall 2021, but won't reveal which specific award they've won until the 2021 Awards celebration. (TBA on date & location.)

May I enter on behalf of someone else?

Yes, but please note that you will need detailed information about each entry. If you don’t have this information readily available, you may need to contact the maker or team.

And this should go without saying, but you should not submit any piece of work without the explicit consent of its creators.

What happened to the Skylarking category?

Over the years we noticed that again and again, the pieces submitted to the Skylarking category were becoming finalists in the Best Documentary Competition, and as the field—and our Competition—expanded, the lines of Skylarking were starting to become blurred, even for us! So we have put a pause on the category, with the knowledge that we’ll carry the intention (and the history) of the category into our critical dialogue within the Competition. (Thanks, Ira.) If you were considering submitting your piece into Skylarking, please consider submitting into one of the other categories.

What is the deadline by which my audio work should be published publicly to be eligible for the Competition?

Your audio work should be published by the Final Deadline of May 11.

I made a mistake when filling out the submission form. Can I edit my entry after I've submitted it?

Yes! Just email us at with your correction, and we'll make sure to update your entry to reflect it.


How do I enter the Directors’ Choice category?

All entries submitted to the Competition are automatically considered for Directors’ Choice.

What categories should I submit my piece for? It could be considered so many different things!

There is no limit to the number of categories into which you can enter a single piece, and there is no penalty for submitting a piece incorrectly into a category where it is not eligible. If you aren’t sure — even after reading the category descriptions — if your entry is eligible for a particular category, go ahead and enter the category anyway. Third Coast staff will consider your entry in whichever category(s) that it fits, and where it will be most competitive. We're rooting for you! (And we would never move your entry into a category that would make it less competitive.)

My entry is XX:XX long… how does this impact eligibility?

Certain categories are determined by the length of your entry. Best Documentary: Short entries must be shorter than 10 minutes. Best Documentary entries must be 10 - 75 minutes long. Best Serialized Story entries are longer than 75 minutes and broken apart into multiple episodes, with a total length of under 15 hours. Audio Unbound entries must be shorter than 5 hours. Best News Feature entries must be under 20 minutes long.

Other categories do not have time-based requirements.

Who are this year’s Judges?

Third Coast annually curates & personally invites groups of experts in the industry to serve as Judges for the TC/RHDF Competition. Judges are selected from a diverse pool of experienced makers, editors, and more to represent a breadth of perspectives and approaches to audio storytelling. We will announce the 2021 Judges soon!

What happens if a Judge or Third Coast staff member has ties to my work, or there’s otherwise a conflict of interest?

Don’t worry — this comes up often. If a Third Coast staff member or Judge has participated in the creation of an entry or believes they are too close to the entry for another reason, they are asked to recuse themselves from any discussion that might influence final decision-making.


(NEW!): If you are looking for eligibility information & FAQs for a specific category, please click on that category in the list below:


For more information on how to prepare your entry, visit our How to Enter page.

What do I need to prepare before entering?

Decide which categories you’d like to enter, and make sure you're eligible for them. Then, check out the detailed checklist of what you’ll need to prepare for each category on its category page. (Some categories have specific requirements, such as transcripts, written statements, or additional documentation.)

All categories require: at least one audio file, a description of the entry, full credits, and an entry fee.

Should I include the audio of the host lede/intro that was read before my story aired, as part of my entry? Should I leave in the ads, promos, and billboards from the original show as part of my entry?

No, no, and no. (And don’t worry, a lot of people get confused about this!) Generally speaking, the rule is to cut out any promotional material (unless that’s somehow part of the story) and any host-read ledes or credits that aren’t essential to understanding the story itself. Please see “Preparing Your Entry” in the dropdown menu, and follow those instructions to better prepare your entry.

Can I submit my entry as a .wav file?

Yes. We prefer .mp3 files for digital storage, but there are no penalties for submitting .wav file(s).

Is there a maximum file size my entry file should be?

Thanks for asking! If possible, we’d appreciate if each file that you’re uploading is less than 100 mb.

Can I submit a video with English-language subtitles in addition to transcripts of the piece?

Yes, we love subtitled videos! Please include the link in the "Entry Summary." Alternately, if you run out of space in the Entry Summary, you can add a page or paragraph to your transcript PDF with a link to the video.


What entry fee(s) should I select?

Please consider who is paying for the entry and the financial means of that person or organization. In general, we ask that the “Access Rate” is reserved for individuals in need of an affordable fee option. We ask that institutions covering the costs of entries on behalf of employees, students, or other associated makers, pay the “True Cost” rate. We ask that for-profit institutions select the “Pay It Forward” rate to help cover the cost of lowering barriers of access for folks paying the Access Rate. Note: if you are submitting a Serialized Story, make sure to select that option on the list of entry fees.

Why do you ask who is paying for the entry fee(s)?

We use this information to help us maintain and improve upon our Collective Pricing fee structure. Ready more about theory behind Collective Pricing here.

I can’t afford the Access Rate. Are there other options for me?

While we rely on income from entry fees to fund Competition administration & operations, price should not be a barrier to entry.

If you are an international entrant from a country not included on the list of top 20 countries by wealth per capita, you may select a discount of 10%, 25%, 50% or 75% from your total entry cost. For example, if you are entering one entry at the Access Rate and one serialized story at the Access Rate, and you select a 75% discount, your total cost would be ($100 + $40) x 0.25 = $35.

If you live in one of the top 20 countries by wealth per capita and need a further reduction of your entry fee, please contact us:

I keep getting error messages! What do I do?

Sorry to hear that! We’ve tried to streamline the submission form as much as possible, but we know that technology (and we) are not perfect. If you’re having technical issues with the form that you can’t resolve, please email us ( and we’ll help find a solution.

I’m confused about the Release & Sharing Agreement. Can you tell me more about it?

This agreement provides Third Coast with the right to showcase your work in our programming. This includes sharing your entry in its entirety during live events (virtual or in-person), on the Third Coast website, social media, newsletter, and other marketing platforms in association with the TC/RHDF Competition. It does not take away your ownership of the piece, nor does it grant Third Coast the right to publish the entry on podcast or the radio. You’ll be notified if we choose to highlight your piece in one of these ways. In the case that your entry is chosen as a winner or finalist, we will ask you to sign a more comprehensive agreement that grants us the right to publish on radio & podcast.


Check out the category-specific pages (also listed above), including category-specific FAQ's, or email us at