The #1 topic in conversations with clients this week: How did you handle the Uvalde school shooting? Some shows did a lot. Others just a little. Some did nothing. Responding to tragedies that affect the audience is difficult. It’s a challenge. And it’s necessary.

What is appropriate for one show is not right for others. It depends on a variety of factors covered in the guidelines for planning a reaction to tragedy here.

I was particularly proud of four shows that handled the topic in very different ways. Each is powerful and appropriate:

Syke and Ali, WBLI/Long Island: Syke told Mike Shepard and me that he really struggled with finding the right response. He couldn’t sleep the night before. His answer was to “hold up a mirror to the audience and let it reflect back on us”. The show invited listeners to call and just “tell us how you feel”. So simple. And uniquely powerful.

They didn’t get political or try to solve problems. They didn’t rant and rave and tell people what to think or try to change anyone’s minds. They were just there for the audience. Awesome.

Benny, Nikki, and Greg, KMVQ/San Francisco: The show devoted a significant portion of the day to the tragedy from multiple angles, but what stood out most was spotlighting Warriors coach Steve Kerr’s audio from the night before. As part of the show’s information block, Greg presents Sassy Sports, a commentary with perspective on Bay Area sports stories. Listen to how Greg still fulfilled the expectation with an update on the playoffs, but shifted the emphasis from information to emotion by spotlighting Kerr’s comments:

Dan and Michele, Air1 Network: The Contemporary Christian station’s emphasis is on worship (positioning statement is Worship Now). Dan and Michelle are typically upbeat and funny with a nice balance of inspirational conversation. On Tuesday morning, they tamped down the laughs and turned up the inspiration. Here’s a powerful example of how they crafted a thoughtful, positive message when their audience was feeling bad:

Letty and Teddy, Power 106/Los Angeles: This team made personal connections throughout the week with character-revealing, heartfelt emotions that added perspective to the conversation. In this segment, cohost Demi Lobo sets up the topic during her Daily Dose segment, putting Letty in a position to talk about what it’s like being a mom sending her kids back to school. As a result, we learn a little more about Letty:

Later in the same show, Demi plays audio of the 9-year-old survivor describing what happened in the classroom. The show’s response was dramatic, appropriate, and touching. It’s a great example of adjusting the mood of the show without changing the nature of the show. This adds depth to their personalities:

For more information on how to be prepared for the next tragedy, check out our Dealing With Tragedy seminar here (Insiders).

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