The Only Response

To an overwhelming tragedy


The devastation caused by the fires in northern California was shocking.

Entire neighborhoods burned to the ground.

Santa Rosa was especially hard hit, every home and business for miles reduced to smoldering ash.

The last number I saw was 42 dead, many of them older, simply unable to escape because the inferno was upon them so quickly.

What do you, as a broadcaster, as a member of that community, say in the face of so much loss?

How about this?


My friend, George Johns, who is the best AC consultant I’ve ever heard, shared that audio with me. It ran on his client station in Santa Rosa.

I wasn’t surprised.

If you want to know how to handle heartrending loss in your community, listen to it again.

It’s real, the emotion is real. It’s personal. It immediately put an image of Marilyn into my mind’s eye.

And that, in turn, helped me imagine all of the others who died in those fires. It made them people, not just faceless numbers.

It had the courage to break expectation and that allowed all who heard it to pause for a few seconds, to grieve, to honor neighbors and friends who lost everything they’d treasured, including for some, their lives.

It was the only response a caring person could voice.

That voice was brave enough to crack and waver and let us glimpse its heart.

And that made if just about perfect.


I’ve listened to this audio at least a dozen times since George sent it, and for whatever reason, its ending always triggered this song immediately afterwards, a song about memories and love and the pain of loss, and wishing time could stand still.

No matter your station’s music format, a song like this one makes what is already so deeply emotional even more so.

Please say it was only a dream…

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