Canadian Entry Finalist In International Radio Competition

A series of public service announcements (psa) produced for Canadian radio stations involving members of the Montreal Alouettes in a program dedicated to saving lives along Canada's railways was a finalist in this year's International Radio Competition in New York City in June.

It was the third year in a row that the Direction 2006/Operation Lifesaver psa's made the competition's short list. There were 1,202 entries in the overall competition from 37 countries. The Direction 2006/Operation Lifesaver psa series, Football and Rail Safety, were delivered by Internet and satellite to approximately 500 radio stations across Canada.

The public service announcements, directed at children but have a strong secondary audience appeal with their moms and dads, included tapes featuring Als' star running back Mike Pringle, receiver Jock Climie, fullback Bruno Heppell and guard Pierre Vercheval.

"It's a team effort involving the railways, volunteers and communities, said OL National Director Dan Di Tota. Operation Lifesaver is a national public safety program that has successfully reduced crossing collisions and trespasser incidents by more than 60 per cent over the past two decades.

Gary Drouin of Transport Canada's rail safety directorate and co-chair of the Direction 2006 executive committee described the 2006 initiative as a special effort by industry, volunteers and communities to drive those results down further and faster - by another 50 per cent by the end of the year 2006.

"We wanted to reach out to young people in new, creative ways," said Direction 2006's communications chairman Roger Cameron. "We know, for example, that it takes a train the equivalent of 14 football fields to come to a stop. We know that a moving train can travel as fast as a slap shot, or a fastball.'

"And we knew, from a consumer survey, that sports coverage has a powerful draw. We were able to bring it all together. This year, the Edmonton Eskimos and the Calgary Stampeders are getting on board too," said Mr. Cameron.

The psa's were produced by Alec Stewart of Dynamix Productions in Toronto for Direction 2006 as part of a public information and education blitz last summer. Program partners include Operation Lifesaver, a Railway Association of Canada program co-sponsored by the RAC and Transport Canada, provincial safety councils, police forces, railway unions, and public interest groups to bring the safety message to the public.