ACLU of Montana Radio Spots Recognized in ABA's National Media Competition

Affiliate: ACLU of Montana
May 26, 2000 12:00 am

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BILLINGS, MT — The American Bar Association announced today that it has selected the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana radio series “These Are Your Constitutional Rights” to receive an Honorable Mention citation in the radio category for this year’s Silver Gavel Awards Competition for Media and the Arts.

“We are delighted to receive national recognition for this project,” Scott Crichton, Executive Director of the ACLU of Montana and coordinator of the project. “Many people have told us how the radio public service announcements we created have helped to bring the law and our rights alive.”

Radio listeners in Montana and Northern Wyoming have been getting 60-second lessons on religious liberty, free speech, privacy rights, and other key Constitutional rights along with their news, weather and traffic reports, courtesy of the ACLU of Montana and Friends of Yellowstone Public Radio. Commercial and public radio stations alike have been airing this innovative series of public service announcements describing 25 pivotal Supreme Court cases.

This year the American Bar Association is presenting only 6 Silver Gavels and 7 Honorable Mentions among nearly 300 entries received in eligible categories that include books, new media, newspapers, magazines, theatrical productions, television and radio programs, and film and radio productions.

Since 1958, the ABA has presented Gavel Awards annually to recognize products in media and the arts that have been exemplary in helping to foster public understanding of the law and the American legal system.

“It’s great to get this level of national recognition for our regional project,” said Barrett Golding, the project’s Bozeman-based independent radio producer. “It gives us a chance to re-promote the CD and web pages, send a few more people to the site, and convince a few more radio stations to air the announcements.”

The ACLU of Montana collaborated on this project with Yellowstone Public Radio and HearingVoices, an online radio arts Web site. The ACLU is distributing the spots free to radio stations via compact disk, which is also for sale to the public. The project that was funded by grants from the Mericos Foundation and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Educator Eileen Sheehy, who teaches government at the career Center in Billings, said the CD was an excellent educational tool. “The ACLU’s Constitutional Rights series on CD provides a concise look at the facts, along with a summary of the judicial reasoning decision and the rule of law,” she said.

Marvin Granger, station manager for Yellowstone Public Radio in Billings agreed, adding that the professional quality of the radio spots makes them a popular choice when programmers have a slot to fill. “One maxim of effective communication is to make one point, make it well, and make it brief,” he said. “The ACLU’s Constitutional Rights series fulfills these goal very effectively.”

The response from AM stations is also positive. George Carter, Program Director of KMMS AM in Bozeman runs the spots regularly, and uses them to kick off the talk show he hosts called “Law Talk”. “Our listeners are especially fond of the First Amendment and the spots have worked wonderfully as a way to initiate listeners comments. I think any AM station would be missing a great opportunity for generating very deep discussions if they ignored this collection of constitutional stories.” KOFI AM in Kalispell is also including the spots in its programming.

Crichton said he is excited that the project is catching on. “The feedback we’ve gotten to date has been very encouraging,” he said. “We hope that our Web site activity, which is already brisk, will intensify as word spreads about the companion Web site piece to this unique cyber-civics lesson.”

The CD contains all 25 cases and a printed web version is available online at .

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