Meet Third Coast’s New Managing Director

We were intrigued to learn more about Sarah Geis, the incoming managing director of the Third Coast International Audio Festival. Below, she offers a window into her background, and a few next steps she’s excited about taking in her new position.

Hello from Third Coast headquarters here in Chicago. It’s the time of year when we show up to work with frozen, soggy feet, dry our socks with the bathroom hand-dryer (true story!), and then stare out the window at icy Lake Michigan, thinking wistfully of all you AIR-sters in places just a little bit more tropical. Which is to say: it’s perfect radio weather.

I got my start in the world of audio with StoryCorps, where I spent a couple years traveling the country in an Airstream trailer, recording interviews with Tuskegee Airmen, lobster fisherman, and newly-in-love nursing home residents. After that, I opened and ran StoryCorps’ San Francisco office, where I created scores of community partnerships and listening events. Most recently, I developed a serious affection for Woody Guthrie as a producer for This Land Radio in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Throughout all this roaming and rambling, the best and most surprising aspect of the work is that it has catapulted me into a wise, funny, and encouraging community of audio makers and listeners. I’m thrilled to have landed here at Third Coast, where my job description now includes working with and supporting this worldwide community of independent producers.

AIR asked me to share a few Third Coast-ian happenings that I’m most looking forward to in 2014. Though it’s only my second week here (I haven’t even unpacked my desk snacks yet), there’s a lot going on. Some highlights of what’s to come:

Gwen and Katie

1) Re:sound, our remix of music, documentaries, found sound, and little audio surprises, is going national! We’ve received a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts to fund a 10 episode series to expand our programming beyond WBEZ. We are partnering with PRX to distribute the shows, and we hope to spend some time traveling with the show, hosting listening rooms and meeting with fans of radio storytelling around the country.

Ayana at a Filmless Workshop2) Back at home, we’re working to develop a series of audio storytelling workshops for beginners. We were blown away by the response to the introductory workshops offered at this past fall’s Filmless Festival, and want to continue this momentum by providing audio newbies in Chicago with tools and encouragement to document the world around them in sound.

3) And finally, it’s a conference year! We’ll be in touch very soon with exact dates for this fall’s festivities, as well as a call for suggestions.  So, right now is a good time to start brainstorming producers you want to hear from, topics that have gotten under your skin, stories you just can’t stop thinking about…

In the meantime, for a mid-winter boost of inspiration, how about listening to some of our archived conference sessions, here? Or maybe peruse our library of audio docs galore?

Looking forward to a future of listening together, lots.