Skip to main content

WCU Stories

Connelly wins Festival of Media Arts competition for public service announcement

Don Connelly at the microphone.

Don Connelly, professor of communication at Western Carolina University, has crafted a public service announcement for radio broadcast that is topical, deals with a serious matter with humor and is an award winner.

Connelly won the “best of competition” in the radio station promo, PSA or commercial category at the Festival of Media Arts, presented by the Broadcast Education Association, an international academic media organization promoting excellence in media production and career advancement for educators, students and professionals. This year, its digital media and broadcast competition for faculty and students awarded 295 honors to more than 300 participating schools and 1,500 entries from around the world.

Connelly’s PSA (link to audio) is a parody commercial about the “Universal Social Media Life Insurance Company of Biloxi, Mississippi,” offering a fictional life insurance policy should the policyholder be killed while using social media. The announcement plays to the absurdity of paying more attention to a mobile device than to personal safety.

The idea came from an actual multicar accident, said Connelly, who created the concept, wrote the copy and produced the announcement, with musical assistance from Bruce Frazier, local composer and adjunct faculty with WCU’s School of Music.

“The driver that caused the accident was on his cell phone texting and was killed,” Connelly said. “Dark idea, but I began wondering when the day will come that a life insurance company says that since you were texting on your cell phone you contributed to your own death, therefore the company won’t pay your insurance benefit ― similar to a suicide clause found in current policies.”

Judges called the PSA as “clever,” with “good use of special effects and music,” and “a creative approach to a PSA discouraging texting and driving.” “I doubled over laughing with the bus hitting the person,” one judge said.

This is the fifth time Connelly has won the best of competition award, with prior wins in 2003, 2004, 2010 and 2014.

“It took a couple of days, on and off, to get the words the way I wanted them,” he said. “Originally the insurance spokesperson was ‘Jeff,’ but that got changed to ‘Bobby,’ which sounded more friendly. And the sound effects had to fit, particularly when the person gets hit by the bus. What listeners hear is actually four sound segments mixed to get the bus sounds and the body thud just right, so that it all sounded real.”

The award-winning PSA is being broadcast on WWCU-FM, 90.5, and on the station’s website at

Office of Web Services