• Stop Smiling; Article, Third Coast International Audio Festival

    Stop Smiling Magazine

    Issue #27
    September 2006
    The Third Coast

    By: Gretchen Kalwinski

    The Third Coast International Audio Festival (TCIAF) began in 2000 as a Chicago Public Radio project with the goal of celebrating the “best feature and documentary audio work heard worldwide on the radio and Internet.” TCIAF has myriad components including an annual conference and competition, and a website that archives Re: sound, a weekly radio program. TCIAF produced the cd that accompanies the Midwest issue, and here’s what executive director Johanna Zorn had to say about the Midwest tie-in.

    How did you choose the pieces for the cd?
    We wanted to offer a variety of examples, so we picked some favorites that demonstrate the versatility of the radio form. There are four tracks, and three of them were made by producers from Illinois or Michigan. The stories are all over the place! There's a first-person narrative by a young gay boy trying to find his way in the world, and a documentary about a town in Arkansas that's forever changed by the appearance of a bird. The topics are very different, but what they all have in common is that sound plays an essential role in each story.

    Who were some of the producers and artists?
    Some may surprise you--for instance, writer Rick Moody and musician Sujfan Stevens. Artists from other mediums have a growing interest in using audio to tell stories and make art; we're witnessing a renaissance in using radio as a storytelling medium. Now, the tools for audio production are relatively low-cost; anyone can podcast through the Internet, and there are more radio programs out there inspiring folks who never took a journalism class to pick up some equipment and get busy.

    Why did you choose the name “Third Coast Festival”?
    While other cities may stake their claim to the third coast, we felt the title was especially fitting for a festival rooted in the heart of America's Midwest and headquartered on Navy Pier in Chicago, right where the Chicago River meets Lake Michigan. So the third coast is literal, another name for our prime location, but since we're an international festival, we also hope it evokes coasts throughout the world. ---GK