Chris Tye, Erin Kennedy reflect on Chardon at 1-year mark

4:36 AM, Feb 27, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- We had just wrapped up the 7:25 a.m. "cut-in" for The Today Show -- those little inserts of local news that you see every thirty minutes or so. Then it got loud. Really, really loud.

Our news set abuts our newsroom and when there is breaking news, if you listen closely enough, the scanners can tell you what may soon be scrolling up the Teleprompter.

The vast majority of what comes across a newsroom scanner is white noise: broken down car-- nothing really newsworthy.

But when our news assignment editor Lisa Lowry looked up from the scanners, and reports of "shots fired inside Chardon High School," our instinct was: this is bad.

Our practical experience triggered a different response -- this is likely just a drill. She asked us to handle calling Chardon police while she was on with the Geauga County Sheriff's office.

The police department answered with a dispatcher saying"I can't talk now.  We are slammed"  Then a click.

Within minutes of ending that conversation the two of us began a nearly 11-hour conversation with viewers. Channel 3 broke into programming around 7:40 a.m. and stayed on until NBC Nightly News at 6:30 p.m.

Not a single word came across that Teleprompter all day. We were not reading the news, we were having a conversation with experts, reporters, eyewitnesses and victims.

And in a very real way, unlike any other breaking story we have covered, it felt like a conversation with viewers, a back and forth that was some of the most important work our station has ever been part of.


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