Champaign native Tom Bodett has been the spokesman for Motel 6 since 1986. Now, he is lending his voice to the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District.

On Aug. 27 during WDWS 1400-AM’s “Penny For Your Thoughts,” the station began airing a public service announcement — with a famous voice as the narrator.

Tom Bodett of Motel 6 fame (“We’ll leave the light on for you”) taped a 30-second spot for the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District. In it, he urged citizens to wear masks ... and pants.

The commercial was the brainchild of Rantoul’s Chris Powers, who contacted Bodett’s rep and worked long hours to get the spot done. Powers wrote the script, which was tweaked a bit by Bodett.

Tom Bodett

TOM BODETT

Powers spent weeks on the project, dealing with the various stakeholders.

“Bodett was open to doing this from my first email, to be the local connection that would make this work,” Powers said. “I Googled locally born celebrities and instantly knew his folksy, effortless humor was perfect for reaching mask resisters in a funny, non-political way that makes wearing a mask as uneventful a decision as wearing pants in public. No one even thinks about not doing that. So the script took me about 10 minutes and practically wrote itself.”

When the spot was done, CUPHD administrator Julie Pryde called WDWS/WHMS/WKIO general manager Mike Haile and asked if he would run the spots without charge.

The answer, of course, was yes.

“I told her, ‘What a cool idea,’“ Haile said. “Tom Bodett did it out of the goodness of his heart.”

A bonus: Bodett is a Champaign native.

“I didn’t know it, either,” Haile said.

Haile said the Bodett PSA will air on WHMS and WKIO, too.

“Here’s my whole thing: It’s real simple, be smart, be courteous, have a positive attitude, show some gratitude,” Haile said. “If we can all do that, we’ll get through this.”

basmussen@news-gazette.com