A Tragedy Has Happened. How Do You Handle It On Your Show?

 In Blog

By Cliff Dumas

The headline says it all: “Connecticut school shooting claims nearly 30 lives.” Another terrifying and heartbreaking tragedy. How do you handle the story on your show?

Get people on the show tomorrow to share their stories. This will be the most powerful content you can create.

Any new details or insight you can add will move the “information” needle, but you should recap the event and be exclusive of anyone that isn’t aware of the tragedy. Don’t assume everyone knows everything about what happened.

Don’t report the events. Feel them; your audience is. Allow yourself to sound
compassionate and heartfelt… You need to match the tone of the community.


  • Get audio on the street. If you’re local, ask what they saw, how they feel, if they’re nervous about returning to work, school, etc. If the tragedy took place somewhere else in the country, localize it by reaching out to a local school and asking how the events in the news will change local protocols.


  • Ask what else can you do to add layers to the content. Book an expert, find an eye witness, police, fire, politician, etc.


  • You could also talk about how parents can explain the event to their children. EXAMPLE: “Your child comes home from school today and asks you to explain the shooting at the Connecticut school. What do you say? We’ll have some answers for you in_______.” 


  • Ask an expert: How do you handle a situation like the Connecticut elementary school shooting or the Oregon mall shooting? How do you talk to your kids about it? Or from Bill and Lynda at WRAL/Raleigh, consider an Ask an Expert segment on dealing with holiday stress this week.    


  • More serious shows can get into a gun control debate, but most will probably want to steer clear.


  • Who are the people that lost their lives? Can you put a human face on the victims?


  • Can you set up a fund sponsored by the station and in the names of the victims?


  • Start making calls to artists in your format and put together a concert fundraiser. 


  • Get behind and authentically help promote any vigil or ceremony that might be planned, or plan one.


  • Allow your audience to share their feelings on air and on your social media. Reflect the compassion, fear and anger of your audience tomorrow.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.