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After Santa Monica shooting, KCRW staffers back on the air, healing

June 11, 2013|By Dana Ferguson
  • Friday was the first time in recent history that KCRW has been off the air as staffers, along with a Santa Monica community at large, dealt with a shooting rampage that left five people dead on Friday.
Friday was the first time in recent history that KCRW has been off the air… (Nick Ut / Associated Press )

On Monday afternoon, three days after the Santa Monica shooting rampage in which John Zawahri killed five people, it was not business as usual at radio station KCRW.

Some of the staff has sought out counseling. Others have taken time off work to heal from the shock of being so close to the shoot-out that killed Zawahri on the Santa Monica College campus where the station is located.

Friday was the first time in recent history that KCRW has been off the air. 

Station general manager Jennifer Ferro emailed a note to listeners on Monday describing how Friday started with a guest DJ set from Radiohead's Thom Yorke and his fellow Atoms for Peace bandmate Nigel Godrich. The gunshots started not long after the band Boxer Rebellion played a live set on the show "Morning Becomes Eclectic."

Members of the staff stayed as long as they could at the station in the basement of the college's Cayton Center but were evacuated by police along with the remainder of the people on the college’s campus.

“The police officers motioned for us to leave,” the station news program director Gary Scott said. “We walked past the library, past the shoes, past the blood on the ground, past the dead body that we thought was the gunman. And the body turned out to be the gunman.”

When the air went dead Friday at KCRW, the reporters and programmers sought out other media outlets to tell their story. Later the team began broadcasting from the NPR studios in Culver City.

Several KCRW staff members returned to the radio station Sunday morning.

“It was our chance to retake the place we had to abandon,” Scott said.

Many of the news reporters and broadcasters sought to make peace with the violence that had occurred so close to them Friday by getting back to work. Scott said others had a harder time getting back to the studio.

"We've had a couple meetings," Scott said, "so people could talk and make sure they were feeling ready to come back."

Those who did return were happy to be in familiar surroundings.

“It was comforting," Scott said. "We report these things, and to come back here and be able to tell our story, to speak into our mics after being somewhere else, it was nice.”


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