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Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes

School shooting coverage is not about me, but…

It’s 12:30 p.m., I’ve been off the air for a half-hour and I’m not doing well.

As we started the show it was like any other Friday. Early reports were of a school shooting in Connecticut, but we didn’t have any other details. Maybe it sounds weird, but these happen from time to time and with the initial reports coming in stating three dead it was tragic, but not earth-shattering. We stuck to our planned show, talking about a variety of news subjects, cracking wise on the silly stories, none the wiser.

I remember the first bulletin I saw that said “20 or more dead, at least 12 of them children”.

Inside the studio, everything stopped. This was no longer a news story about a random shooting on the other side of the country, this was starting down a very dark path. Quickly, the numbers jumped and within an hour the number sat at 27 dead, 18 of them children.

In times like this we know that nothing else matters, this story was and is the issue and the only thing worth talking about and covering. Still, it was very hard to ingest the information, the numbers, the reports of an entire class of kindergartners executed and carry on a show at the same time.

I have no connection to the town, school or families in Connecticut and no reason to be affected by this other than basic human decency, yet I struggled for words. I tried to be the ringleader, pitch to news conferences, guests and breaking alerts and dispense the information as it came in, but all I could picture in my head was a classroom full of little kids lying in pools of blood. I thought about innocent children, my godkids, my niece and nephew and how desperately I wanted to be somewhere other than in the studio.

All of us fought with our emotions on Friday, and I’m sure there will be more information released that sickens us further. I’ve noticed two distinct reactions to this story: sadness and anger. I am incredibly sad, on the verge of tears for the past two hours and am struggling to make sense of it all.

I love being on the radio every day and truly enjoy the opportunity to inform, entertain and challenge my team and the listeners, but for the first time in my radio career, I wish I wasn’t here and I wasn’t the one breaking this horrible news.


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