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Further Notes on the Third Coast Leadership Shuffle

The executive director and co-founder of the Chicago-based audio documentary conference will be departing in the fall, and the search for a replacement will kick off later this week. The move was announced last Wednesday through a letter published on the Third Coast website.

Obviously, this is a major development for the beloved conference, which has become one of the most, if not the most, important gatherings for radio and podcast producers since its founding almost two decades ago. Third Coast grew particularly quickly over the past few years — tracking alongside the growth spurt experienced by the audio world around it — the biggest expression of which was the decision to shift the festival towards an annualized schedule in 2016. (It was previously held every two years.)

When asked about the reason behind her departure, Zorn sent this over:

There’s not one reason, but a multitude of reasons why this feels like a good time to leave. Here are 2 big ones:

When Julie Shapiro and I co-founded Third Coast back in 2000, This American Life was a new show and ATC aired radio docs by a handful of amazing producers now and again. Hearing this great work, we wanted to help build a rich, diverse and popular field of audio storytelling. And we committed ourselves to the dream. The advent of podcasting helped immeasurably. While the work is never done, I feel like our original vision is mostly fulfilled and I’m excited to see an evolved vision by the next ED plus staff in this age of podcasting.

Personally, I’m ready to flex my creative muscles away from the demands of running an arts non profit. It’s pretty exhausting work, and leaves me very little time to think, play, or perhaps even document the transformation that I’ve both been a part of and witnessed. I look forward to a new set of possibilities for me.

She will take the stage at the next Third Coast Conference in November to bid adieu.