The 2018 Third Coast Awards Ceremony Acceptance Speeches, Featuring a Transcript of Phoebe Wang’s Speech & Community Responses

Third Coast Festival
8 min readOct 8, 2018

The 2018 Third Coast Awards Ceremony was historic for a few reasons. First and foremost: when the award-winning producers took the stage at Alhambra Palace in Chicago, they set a new standard for awards speeches — using the microphone to push for structural, political & creative change in the audio world.

Photo credit: Bill Healy

We’re deeply excited about the momentum these speeches are adding to crucial and ongoing conversations, already led by a chorus of voices over the past few years (a few examples here, here, and here). Our mission as an organization is to curate and elevate the best storytelling across the world. But the best stories require a representative field of diverse voices to push the boundaries of storytelling forward. And, as 2018 Best New Artist winner Phoebe Wang pointed to in her acceptance speech, one of the most important questions is: Who is getting invited to the table?

Each of the Third Coast award-winners made powerful statements during their speeches, and we can’t wait to share them with you. Here is the full transcript (and audio!) of all the Third Coast Awards Ceremony speeches provided by Descript.

But first: The following is the full transcript of Phoebe Wang’s speech after winning Best New Artist for her piece God & the Gays, and a call to action from the producers behind the account.


Phoebe Wang: Two years and twelve days ago, I came across a job listing for the Assistant Producer position at The Heart, and at the end of this job listing there was a note that read quote: “We are a queer/trans/woman/POC forward organization and are specifically looking to hire someone who is part of the communities the show was founded to represent. So if you are part of these communities, even if you don’t think you have some of the skills on this list, please consider applying!” End quote.

So, having zero audio experience, I decided to apply for the job. And even though it was a risk, Kaitlin Prest from The Heart [applause] — Kaitlin hired me to for the position. She trained me and she was super-duper patient with me when it took me like three hours to cut my first 30-second ad.

I feel like it’s really important for me to share this because I feel like I’m a product of a really intentional hire of a person of color. And as we all know — it’s no secret — we need a lot more people of color in this industry. [applause + cheering]

Like I remember the first time I heard about the Nancy podcast. I was like “Oh my gosh, Tobin and Kathy, please don’t fuck this up for every single Asian-American here!” [laughter].

Kathy Tu (Awards Ceremony Host): We tried!

Phoebe Wang: Because at the time, I could count the number of Asian podcast hosts on one hand. And so, even if I didn’t want them to represent my experience, inevitably somehow they would. [Turns to Tobin Low and Kathy Tu, the Awards Ceremony hosts, on stage.] I think you’re doing great.

But even then, I hear people say all the time that, “We tried our best to find a person of color for a job opening and we couldn’t find one, because not enough people of color applied or because they weren’t qualified enough for the position.” And I think that is total bullshit. [Cheers and applause.]

Because what I hear when people say we tried our best — what I really hear is: “We chose to spend our time and our money on something that we decided was more important than hiring a person of color.” [Applause.]

And what I also hear is: “We’re okay with alienating a massive group of listeners who don’t have any space or emotional energy to hear from another straight white dude talking at them, and we’re okay with having massive blind spots when we share stories about people of color.”

So if I could offer some suggestions: Don’t wait for people to come to you. Go on the internet, recruit people, invite them to apply for your position, invite them to join your applicant pool.

Audience member (audibly): Right?!

Phoebe Wang: And don’t just find a person of color that you’re going to plug into your organization and expect them to act like a white person [cheers and applause] and fit into the office structures that white people have built. [Cheers.]

I remember, I was working at an organization a couple years ago that had all these diversity workshops. They said they wanted staff of diverse backgrounds. And then when a new hire started signing off emails with “Good Vibes,” instead of something like “Best” or “Cheers” or whatever, people started flippin’ out. [Laughter.]

Be ready to take on the hard and unglamorous job of actually training and investing in someone. And find opportunities for them to advance in positions of power. [Applause.]

My friend Chloe calls this, like, “the gradient,” where there are like, you know, all the white people at the top of an about page for a show and then, like, a smattering of people of color in the middle, and all the brown people are at the bottom.

Or, also, like at Werk It. I went last year, and there was a point where 12 hiring managers went up on stage to offer jobs, to talk about job openings at their companies — and only one of them was a person of color.

So I think it should come as no shock at all that this industry is so white when there’s so few people of color in actual positions of power.

I also want to add that it’s not enough to organize a panel about diversity if your entire organization is white and you’ve made little-to-no effort to actually diversify your board or your staff members.

And it’s not enough to have one show about people of color and think that you’ve done your social duty … [cheers and applause] … and in fact, to exploit them for some sort of social currency, and then proceed to hire a zillion white-dude hosts and white actors and white producers.

It’s really incredibly disappointing and sad to me that so much value is placed on credentials in this industry. And so little value is placed on how those credentials are achieved. [Cheers.]

And the fact that not everybody has the privilege of being able to work at WNYC for $13 an hour as an intern… [cheers and applause]and still be able to eat and have a roof over their heads and go to doctor’s appointments. I know that I absolutely could not have done that.

And for the people who said they couldn’t find people of color to fill their job positions:

Lakeidra Chavis [Cheers.]

Erisa Apantaku [Cheers.]

Jenny Casas [Cheers.]

Aliya Pabani [Cheers.]

Jodi Powell [Cheers.]

James T. Green [Cheers.]

Morgan Givens [Cheers.]

Yasmine Mathurin [Cheers.]

Taunya English [Cheers.]

Zakiya Gibbons [Cheers.]

Imani Mixon [Cheers.]

Rona Akbari [Cheers.]

Jordan Bailey [Cheers.]

Nicole Kelly [Cheers.]

Mooj Zadie [Cheers.]

Kathy Tu [Cheers.]

Cherry Griffin [Cheers.]

Galilee Abdullah [Cheers.]

Chiquita Paschal [Cheers.]

Anna Martin [Cheers.]

Mitra Kaboli [Cheers.]

Cher Vincent [Cheers.]

Zuzu Sarhan [Cheers.]

TK Matunda [Cheers.]

Sharon Mashihi [Cheers.]

Veralyn Williams [Cheers.]

Daisy Rosario [Cheers.]

Megan Tan [Cheers.]

Timothy Lou Ly [Cheers.]

Lee Mengistu [Cheers.]

Alex Lewis [Cheers.]

Tobin Low [Cheers.]

Hannah Kingsley-Ma [Cheers.]

Tracie Hunte [Cheers.]

Angela Nhi Nguyen [Cheers.]

Ariana Martinez [Cheers.]

TK Dutes [Cheers.]

Oluwakemi Aladesuyi [Cheers.]

Ariana Beedie [Cheers.]

Thomas Lu [Cheers.]

Abigail Bereola [Cheers.]

Derrick Toledo [Cheers.]

Itxy Quintanilla [Cheers.]

Sayre Quevedo [Cheers.]

Julia Shu [Cheers.]

Nygel Turner [Cheers.]

[45 seconds of cheering and applause.]

We are here — and we have credentials that the most trained white audio producer will never have. If you email us at, a couple of us are managing that email address and we will you send you contact information for people. And if you are a person of color and want to get on the list, also email me.

So if you’re committed to actually making the industry better, and you are actually hearing what I am saying, then I expect to see an email from you very soon.

[Cheers and applause.]


Update: A Statement. (10/8/2018)
From the organizers of

If you are truly committed to making meaningful work — then you will hear our message below, and act.

We are creating a directory for people of color in the audio industry. If you want to connect with potential employers or other POC in audio, fill out this form. If you would like to access this directory for hiring purposes or otherwise, email

We hope that this directory will serve two purposes:

1) To connect POC across the industry, and to create more spaces in the audio industry for us.

2) To connect potential employers with more POC candidates. The notion that employers “can’t find” POCs to hire is a lie. We are here. We exist. And we are necessary to this industry.

To white people: Do better. The lack of racial diversity in the audio industry is not our responsibility to fix. And remember, your responsibility doesn’t end when you hire people of color.

To our POC family: We see you and we stand with you. Let’s continue to support each other.

Adizah Eghan, Zakiya Gibbons, Aliya Pabani, Phoebe Wang, Afi Yellow-Duke


Keep the conversation going. Below, a few highlights from Twitter so far about the 2018 Third Coast Awards Ceremony speeches:


You can now read the full transcript of the 2018 Third Coast Awards Ceremony — and listen along to the audio, too.