2019 Third Coast / Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Competition


The Third Coast / Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Competition seeks the best audio stories produced worldwide. Since 2001, the TC/RHDF Competition has celebrated more than 200 extraordinary stories from four continents and has bestowed over $250,000 in cash prizes to many of the most innovative producers of the past two decades.

The 2019 TC/RHDF Competition will celebrate the best non-fiction audio stories on radio, podcasts, the internet, and more. We’ll award the best work in the following categories: Best Documentary, Best New Artist, Radio Impact, Best Serialized Story, Best News Feature, Best Foreign Language and Skylarking.

Important Dates

Call for Entries Announced:

April 30

Early Deadline:

May 28, 3pm CST

Final Deadline for Best Serialized Story

May 28, 3pm CST

Final Deadline (for all but Best Serialized Story):

June 18, 3pm CST

Winners Notified:

Late August

Winners Announced:

Early October

Awards Ceremony:

November 2 (Chicago, IL)


  • Prizes ranging from $1,500 to $5,000
  • One gratis registration for the producer and one friends & family registration for the co-producer to the 2019 Third Coast Conference, October 31 – November 2 in Chicago
  • Celebratory recognition at the Third Coast Awards Ceremony on November 2, the final night of the Third Coast Conference
  • National recognition on “Best of the Best: The 2019 Third Coast Festival Broadcast”

2019 Award Categories

BEST DOCUMENTARY AWARDS — Gold prize: $5,000; Silver prize: $4,000; Bronze prize: $3,000; Honorable Mention prize: $1,750

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 stories that innovate, inform, and inspire; we’re interested in stories that haven’t been told before — or are told in a new way.

Length eligibility: 3-60 minutes


We created the Best Serialized Story (BSS) award in 2018 to recognize outstanding stories that unfold beautifully over multiple episodes. In these limited series, each episode builds on the one before it, to tell a complete story (for example, the entirety of Missing and Murdered: Finding Cleo which won our 2018 BSS Award). Also eligible are limited series created by ongoing shows, such as Silent Evidence, which were 4 episodes of the Heart in 2016. Finally, a BSS can be a single season of an ongoing show that follows one narrative, such as Start-Up Season 4 about Dov Charney (7 episodes total).

length eligibility: total running time for BSS entries is 10 hours maximum. There is no limit for the number of episodes.

NOTE: All BSS must be entered by the early deadline, Tuesday, May 28 at 3pm CST.


Unlike the rest of our juried awards, the Directors Choice 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


Through the Best Documentary: Foreign Language Award (BFL), Third Coast celebrates the diversity of audio works produced in languages other than English, from anywhere in the world.

English transcript AND original language transcript are required for entry; find more details on transcript requirements in the FAQ. BFLs may also be considered for the Director’s Choice award.

Length eligibility: 3-60 minutes


The Radio Impact (RI) award recognizes a single audio story that has significantly impacted an individual, group or community. We are looking for work that has created definable change. 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.

For a submission to be considered for the RI award, candidates must include a statement (500 words maximum) that offers clear and concise examples of the story’s impact.

Length eligibility 3-60 minutes


The Best News Feature (BNF) award honors exceptional news features reported 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 3-12 minutes


The Best New Artist (BNA) award is presented to a producer who entered the audio field between June 2017 and June 2019. To qualify, each entrant must have recorded, written and mixed their entry. It is permissible to have worked with an editor, as long as that person contributed in an advisory capacity only. Co-productions are not eligible in this category.

Length eligibility: 3-60 minutes


The Skylarking award recognizes stories that are out for fun. That doesn’t mean that don’t have stakes, or send us on an emotional journey. But they seek to amuse along the way. Credit to Ira Glass for inspiring us to create this award with these true words: “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.”

Length eligibility: 3-60 minutes

Entry Guidelines


All Categories except Best Serialized Story:

$55 for entries uploaded on or before Tuesday, May 28 at 3pm CST

$80 for all entries uploaded after Tuesday, May 28 at 3pm CST through Tuesday, June 18 at 3pm CST

Student & Best New Artist rate:

$35 for student entries uploaded on or before Tuesday, May 28 at 3pm CST

$50 for all entries uploaded after Tuesday, May 28 at 3pm CST through Tuesday, June 18 at 3pm CST

Best Serialized Story:

$200 for entries uploaded on or before Tuesday, May 28 at 3pm CST

NOTE: All BSS entries must be submitted by the early deadline, and the Student/BNA rate does not apply

Entries uploaded after June 18 at 3pm CST will not be judged.


All ads and promos before and in the middle of an entry must be removed or the entry will be automatically disqualified. (Ads or promos that appear in the final credits are fine.)

Entries must have been produced and available publicly for the first time on radio, podcast, internet, or in a public setting (i.e. theater, gallery, museum, classroom, etc) between January 2018 and May 28, 2019 (the early deadline).

Entries must be produced in English, with the exception of the Best Documentary: Foreign Language category.

Work featured on thirdcoastfestival.org and/or Re:sound is eligible for entry into the Competition.

Each producer must sign the release and license agreement on the entry form, which provides Third Coast with broadcast, podcast and Internet rights to present submissions in their entireties as part of Best of the Best: The 2019 Third Coast Festival Broadcast between October 2019 and October 2021.


A brief producer bio (80 words maximum)

A text summary of the entry (120 words maximum)

One MP3 audio file per entry (unless it’s a Best Serialized Story entry, in which case it should include an MP3 for each episode in the series)

The entry fee For Radio Impact entries only: Statement of Impact (500 words max)

For Best Doc: Foreign Language entries only: Bilingual English and original language transcript with time stamps at the bottom of each page


Entries are only accepted through our Submit table form, where you’ll find clear instructions for uploading your story. Submit table will be able to answer your tech questions, for everything else email Third Coast or call us at 312-948-4652.


Payment by credit card / PayPal is strongly recommended but checks are accepted only for entries submitted by the early deadline. Checks must be mailed/ postmarked by the early deadline, May 28.

For more info visit :www.thirdcoastfestival.org/competition/2019-third-coast-richard-h-driehaus-foundation-competition