While all of America is reacting in horror to Sunday night’s tragic mass shooting at a music festival in Las Vegas, radio stations K102 and BUZ’N 109.9 FM became hubs for grief and support for a lot of country music fans in the Twin Cities.
Both stations have been regularly updating fans with the latest news and reaction from Jason Aldean and other country music stars who performed at the Route 91 Festival, where 58 are now reported dead and 400-plus more injured.
One of the local on-air personalities at BUZ'N, Katie T (Katie Toupal) was there at the festival in Las Vegas when the shooting occurred. Her touching firsthand account of the tragedy hit home to listeners how random and unexpected it was.
Alongside a photo she took with Aldean backstage before the tragedy, Katie said in her post, "I don't know why or how my friends and I got away from there but I can't stop thinking about everyone who didn't. It's just not fair."
BUZ'N plans to air a moment of silence at noon on Tuesday, and then the station will figure out more ways to honor victims at a cancer benefit concert already scheduled later Tuesday night with one of the artists who was also at the Route 91 festival, Adam Craig.
"It will be nice for us to all come together," said BUZ'N operations manager Lauren MacLeash, who said Toupal might make an appearance at the event but "is still in a state of shock" over the tragedy. MacLeash added, "One of the joys of being in this country is being able to get together with [thousands] of people to enjoy this music. We're not going to let this take away that joy."
K102 dropped Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” a few times into its hits mix this morning, to great response from listeners. The station also happens to have its own concert lined up with one of the Route 91 acts, Luke Combs, who has been talking with TV news outlets all morning since he opened for Aldean at the festival and was standing on stage when the shooting started Sunday night. He headlines K102's Class of 2017 concert at Myth nightclub on Oct. 18.
“We've been doing our best to keep our listeners informed all morning and keeping the lines of communication open,” said Gregg Swedberg, operations manager at K102. Numerous Twin Cities-based staffers from both K102 and sister pop station KDWB were in the exact same location as the tragedy on the Las Vegas Strip just a weekend earlier for their parent company’s big iHeartRadio Music Festival, Swedberg said.
As for what’s heard on air at radio stations known for playing mostly good-timey hits, Swedberg said, “Things are probably going to sound a little more serious now.”
Here are some of the reactions from country music stars and fans on social media so far.
Tonight has been beyond horrific. I still dont know what to say but wanted to let everyone know that Me and my Crew are safe. My Thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved tonight. It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night. #heartbroken #stopthehate
Me, the band, and crew are all safe. Been a long night, gonna try to get some sleep. Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers.— Luke Combs (@LukeCombsMusic) October 2, 2017
Last night was suppose to be happy. My favorite artist, @jasonaldean and two of my best friends but it quickly turned into me not being able to un hear gun shots or un see people falling to the ground. Country music is suppose to bring us together, why would someone want to take that away from us? I don't know why or how my friends and I got away from there but I can't stop thinking about everyone who didn't. It's just not fair. To the people who couldn't get out, I'm so sorry, it's not fair. To everyone who got out, we have to stick together and keep going to these events, we can't let those "people" win. We can't. #PrayForLasVegas #route91harvest