News Releases

Lander student's radio documentary wins prestigious national award

October 28, 2015

A Lander University mass communication major has won a top prize in a national competition conducted by College Broadcasters Inc. (CBI), at its convention in Minneapolis on Oct. 21.

Ann Scott O’Brian, a senior from Columbia, was the winner in CBI’s Best Audio Documentary/Public Affairs category for her account of events that prompted her brother to take his own life. The production has his name as the title: “Joshua Scott Blankenship.” He was a former Marine who served two tours of duty in Iraq. After returning home, Blankenship began displaying symptoms of severe psychological and emotional stress and, in the summer of 2010, he committed suicide. He was 25 years old.

The eight-minute documentary focuses on her brother’s struggles and the impact his death had on her and members of her family. O’Brian said the production is a tribute to him and an attempt on her part to make people aware of the difficulties war veterans grapple with as a result of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

She also demonstrates her concerns by her work as a volunteer for Hidden Wounds, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Columbia, which provides military veterans with counseling and other resources to help them cope with psychological war injuries. On its website, the organization congratulated O’Brian for her award and thanked her for her willingness to become involved in its work. The group added, “We're elated to see your dedication rewarded.”

As for winning the award, she described herself as speechless and honored to have represented Lander University in the college broadcasters competition. O’Brian is scheduled to graduate in December and hopes to find a job in marketing or another specialty that will allow her to apply what she has learned as a mass communication major.

O’Brian was not the only Lander student invited to enter the CBI competition. A documentary produced by student Lynn Hohn, a junior mass communication major from Summerville, was also a finalist in the same category as O’Brian. Hohn’s feature, “A New Paradigm,” describes the devastating impact of sexual abuse and rape, which she and two friends have personally experienced.

It took five weeks to produce the two documentaries for Lander’s XLR radio station in the Advanced Radio Production class taught by Paul Crutcher, Lander’s broadcast and emerging media specialist. Crutcher noted that finalists from over 300 schools submitted nearly 900 entries in the overall CBI competition. O’Brian and Hohn were among four finalists in the best public affairs audio documentary category, and  Hohn took home an award for being selected a finalist.

CBI describes itself as an organization whose members are students and advisers of college and high school electronic outlets, including radio, television, webcasting and other media-related activities.

 Ann Scott O'Brian-Lynn Hohn resize

 Ann Scott O’Brian, right, a Lander student from Columbia, is shocked and surprised when her name is called as the winner of the College Broadcasters, Inc., national competition in the Best Audio Documentary/Public Affairs category. Greg Watson, president of the organization’s board of directors, made the announcement. At left is Lynn Hohn, of Summerville, another Lander student who produced an entry in the competition and received an award for being a finalist.