Communication professor Don Connelly wins fifth Broadcast Education Association award

Don Connelly (left) demonstrates microphone techniques with communication major Bryson Parks at WWCU-FM.

Don Connelly, professor of communication at Western Carolina University, recently became a five-time winner of the Charles and Lucile King Family Foundation “Best of Festival” award, presented by the Broadcast Education Association.

Only seven faculty audio “Best of Festival” awards are given each year. This year, BEA’s Festival of Media Arts had more than 1,750 entries from around the world.

Connelly was supposed to receive the award at the 2020 BEA National Convention held in conjunction with the National Association of Broadcasters convention on April 20. Both were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Connelly instead received his award through UPS.

Connelly’s radio station promotional entry competed in the category of public service announcements or commercials. His effort announced the start of the frequency transition from 90.5 FM to 95.3 FM, WWCU, the university’s radio station. The promo, titled “Haulin’ Radio Waves,” was done in the style of the late Stan Freberg. Freberg was noted for winning numerous Emmy, Grammy and Clio awards for his creative, sometimes absurd, works.  Connelly’s work played on the comical and unconventional moving of a radio station “up the dial” from 90.5 to 95.3 by loading the radio waves into a moving van and heading off down the road.

          “Traditional station frequency change announcements are pretty dry and filled with lots of numbers and dates,” Connelly said. “I decided to go 180 degrees in the opposite direction knowing that using humor often makes a stronger, more lasting impression.”

Although the promo was only 60 seconds long, it took about a week of drafts and editing to develop the characters in the script, Connelly said. “Sound effects were also critical to help tell the story in such a short period of time. Some of the smallest sound effects are a mix of several bits of sound to achieve the desired effect,” said Connelly.

Judges noted that the promo “was innovative, creative and clever. It utilized humor in explaining the station moving up the radio dial, a subject that could have been really boring.” Judges also said the spot was “effective in using humor to grab attention and communicate overall message in a more engaging way, and well produced.”

The award-winning promotional announcement was broadcast on WWCU-FM 90.5 and on the station’s website at www.wwcufm.com.

The BEA is the premier international academic media organization promoting excellence in media production and career advancement for educators, students and professionals.

The Charles and Lucille King Family Foundation (http://www.kingfoundation.org) was created by King World Productions, which is known for its television program syndication including “Wheel of Fortune,” “Jeopardy,” “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and “Dr. Phil.” The foundation was created in 1988 to support individuals, institutions and organizations committed to education excellence and professional development in the media. The company was purchased by CBS in 2007.

For more information, contact Don Connelly at 828-227-3851 or dconnelly@wcu.edu.