The Impact award recognizes an audio story that has made a significant impact on an individual or community, broadly defined.

We are looking for work in the audio field that has directly resulted in a change to a place, community, law, or culture; this can be an investigative report that influenced public debate, a radio story that changed the course of an individual’s life, or a piece of audio that affected the awareness or understanding of a community in a new way. To this end, we require each entry to this category be accompanied by a supporting statement outlining the precise details of the impact, and how it was measured. This award is judged by both the craft of the audio entry, and the strength of the written argument of its impact.

For Entrants: the 2023-24 Call for Entries is launching soon!

The week of December 4, 2023, we'll open up our 2023-24 Call for Entries, a unique dialogue between Third Coast and the diverse communities of people making this work around the world.

Everyone, everywhere, is invited to enter audio works across formats & in any language. Our goal is to create a different kind of backbone for the industry – inciting dialogue, experimentation, and new critical new opportunities in audio. This year, that will include offerings like: more Award-Winners & Finalists than ever before, an expanded Feedback Initiative, new discounts for self-funded entrants, and more new programs from Third Coast spotlighting outstanding makers from the field.

We'll be updating all Competition-related pages for the 2023-24 Call for Entries launch, including this one. For now, feel free to read through the Impact category page from the 2022-23 Competition Cycle. Make sure to also check out the Third Coast/RHDF Competition Showcase, featuring our 2022-23 Winners, Finalists & Judges.)


The Impact category (originally called Radio Impact) is one of the original categories of the Third Coast/RHDF Competition. 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 by 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.

Please note: The 2022-23 Call for Entries closed on March 10, 2023.

2022-23 Eligibility Information
  • Length: Standalone pieces between 0-75 minutes, as well as serialized stories containing multiple episodes that, in combination, add up to between 75 minutes-15 hours. Pieces eligible for Audio Unbound may also be considered in this category.
  • Publication: Must have been published between September 1, 2020 - March 10, 2023.
  • Format: One single audio file. All advertisements or sponsorship segments must be removed from the audio file — this includes previews for upcoming episodes of this or other programs.
  • Language: There are no language requirements for this category. If you are entering work in a non-English language, you must provide a bilingual (original language and English language) translated transcript.

2022-23 Entry Rates

As always, our entry rates were most affordable before our Early Deadline. If you’re interested in learning more about rates for the 2022-23 Third Coast/RHDF Competition, check out our complete breakdown of sliding scale rates across all categories.

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

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

2022-23 Entry Checklist
  • Audio file (.mp3 preferred, .wav also accepted) with all ads removed
  • Total length of the entry (Minutes:Seconds)
  • Link to a published version of the story
  • Full credits (host, producer, sound designer, editor, etc.)
  • Description/summary of your entry (150 words or fewer preferred)
  • Transcript (optional for English-language entries, required for non-English)
  • Impact Statement (for this category only): see below.
Impact Statement (3000 characters max)

When entering the Impact category, you'll need to include an advocacy statement for the demonstrated impact of your piece. What does that mean, exactly? The Impact statement should provide a robust argument for the ways in which your work had demonstrated impact on a community, a culture, a digital space — even on the life of a single person. Impact, broadly defined, could take the form of: adopted legislation, cultural awareness, substantial change in a community or a person’s life. In your Impact statement, consider responding to some or all of the following questions:

  • What specific impact was made by your piece, and to whom?
  • How is the impact of this work critical to the success of the work overall?
  • How did your process contribute to the overall impact of the work?
  • What role does community play in your notion of impact, and how do you define community?
  • How was the impact of your work measured, and who measured the impact of your piece?

Note: This statement will be used in the judging room as a part of awarding a winner in the category.

Impact FAQ

What should I write for my Impact Statement?

  • The Competition seeks compelling storytelling and boundary-pushing work, but the strength of your Impact Statement is a key part of how the piece is evaluated, so tangible examples are helpful. Your Impact statement should take into consideration the many ways, in 2022, an audio piece can have an impact on a life, a community, a culture, even a digital space. Please see the sample statement and find more information above.

Do you have an example of an Impact Statement?

  • Here is a sample impact statement from the 2016 winner, Not Safe to Drink.

Not Safe to Drink is a documentary that asked the question: How did the contamination of an entire US city’s water happen, in 2015? Michigan Radio was the first news outlet to cover the Flint Water Crisis in depth, and this documentary was instrumental in getting national coverage of the issue. Days after it aired and was published on our website, large portions of it were picked up by the Rachel Maddow Show and it became a national story. And while the Governor’s administration and the Department of Environmental Quality went on a public relations blitz to blame this disaster on “local officials,” Not Safe To Drink linked the actions that caused this disaster back to state officials.*

Since the documentary aired, the Governor apologized to the people of Michigan in his State of the State address, declared a state of emergency and activated National Guard troops to assist in distributing free water to the residents of Flint. The state also switched Flint back to its original water source.

The Region 5 Director of the EPA, the director of the MDEQ, the spokesperson for the MDEQ and the press secretary for the Governor all resigned. Criminal charges have been filed against two state employees and one city employee for misleading officials and tampering with data. The state attorney general filed civil suits against the two companies that assisted Flint with the water switch. The Department of Justice and FBI continue to investigate the decisions that created this disaster. The EPA has also tightened its lead and copper testing rules for municipalities.

The water in Flint, still, however, is not safe to drink.

Previous Winners

Interested in hearing pieces that have won this category in prior years? Click on the play button button next to some of our most recent winners below.

Hidden Problems of Silicon Valley

Since its founding 15 years ago, Tesla has become one of the most valuable car companies in the country. Tesla is worth tens of billions of dollars, and its all-electric cars have achieved cult status among enthusiasts.