Co-founder Shapiro announces departure from Third Coast

Julie Shapiro, artistic director and co-founder of the Chicago-based Third Coast International Audio Festival, will leave the multiplatform curator of audio storytelling in November. “I thought long and hard (and then longer, and harder) about this,” Shapiro wrote in today’s announcement, “but ultimately realized it’s time to move on and try something different with the next phase of my life.” Shapiro and Johanna Zorn, e.d., founded Third Coast in 2000; its biennial “filmless festival” draws thousands of audiophiles. Shapiro came up with the concept for Third Coast’s popular ShortDocs Challenge, which asks participants to make mini-documentaries while following quirky rules such as using a color in the documentary’s title or including three seconds of “narrative silence.” The organization also hosts a conference for audio producers in the festival’s off-years and produces a weekly podcast and radio program.

Wide-open market for podcasters: programs that feature, and appeal to, women

AUSTIN, Texas — When podcasting stars gathered March 11 at the South by Southwest Interactive conference to discuss the challenges facing their medium, the lack of diversity among creative talents in podcasting — especially the dearth of women in hosting roles — was cited among the most perplexing problems.

A Feb. 26 editorial by Third Coast Audio Festival Director Julie Shapiro provided impetus for the discussion among a panel of four podcasters — each with ties to public media in the U.S. and Britain and one of whom was female.  In her commentary published last month by Transom, Shapiro questioned why only 20 of the top 100 iTunes podcasts are hosted by women. “There’s literally no barrier to entry, so I don’t know what that’s about,” said Roman Mars, creator and host of 99% Invisible, a podcast and pubradio series. Public media, which supports many of the most popular podcasts on iTunes, has a strong history of nurturing female talent, he said. He pointed out that the Third Coast Festival’s Award for Best New Artist has gone to a man only once in the past 10 years.

ATC’s “Teen Contender” captures gold award for best documentary

The segment produced for All Things Considered’s “Radio Diaries” by Joe Richman, Sue Jaye Johnson and Samara Freemark told the story of 16-year-old boxer Claressa Shields’ preparations for her gold medal–winning performance in the 2012 Olympics. At the Third Coast awards ceremony Oct. 7 in Evanston, Ill., Shields said that she would have been disappointed if the documentary had lost because she had never received anything less than gold in her life. She then led a brief tutorial on proper jab technique. This American Life won a silver award for best documentary for “What Happened At Dos Erres,” the story of a 1982 military massacre in Guatemala produced by Brian Reed and Habiba Nosheen, and co-reported by Sebastian Rotella of ProPublica and Ana Arana of Fundación MEPI.