MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Alison Parker and Adam Ward. Two names familiar to many families due to a tragedy. The two were killed on live television Wednesday morning, as they did the same job we here at WMBF News do on a daily basis.
While the unthinkable happened hundreds of miles away, we have personal connections with them here in our Myrtle Beach station.
If you've been following the coverage over the last few days, you've seen broadcasters cry and comment on how we are a hardened bunch, covering crime stories and breaking news every day. This, however, hit home.
It was no different here in the WMBF News station. Most of us sat silently at our computers, crying over the lives lost, wondering if we could have the same strength shown by the journalists at WDBJ as they continued coverage.
We struggled to determine how to best cover the story here within our own station. We did not want to come across in any way as if we were making it about ourselves, but it was important to share the stories we have personally with each of the victims.
It isn't just a career choice we have in common.
Alison Parker, the bright and bubbly 24 year old, started her journey in journalism working alongside our current co-workers here at WMBF News.
"She graduated early….she had this kind of spunk that you could tell she was gusty, you know, even though she was young," shared Ashley Talley, the News Director of WMBF News.
At the time, Ashley worked for a station in New Bern, North Carolina. She was relatively new, working as an Assistant News Director. She first saw Alison Parker in a video reel as the college grad applied for a job at her station.
Her spirit grabbed Ashley's attention immediately, standing out from hundreds of other videos.
It was Ashley's first hire. It was Alison's first on-air position.
"I remember the day she put in her notice. She was excited, she was going home, back to Virginia, back to our hometown market to WDBJ7, she and I grew up watching that," Ashley recalled.
The two stayed in touch even as they changed stations. Alison headed home to Virginia, Ashley made her way here to Myrtle Beach.
"I actually talked to her….the day before. Less than 24 hours before she was….shot," said Ashley as she held back tears.
It wasn't just a conversation between co-workers, but a chat to catch up between old friends.
"She said 'I've still got time left here. But I'm always looking forward. The times going to creep up on me, she said….," shared Ashley.
That time was cut short on Wednesday morning as the 24 year old reporter was killed on live TV along with photographer Adam Ward.
"I was numb and stunned the entire morning when I found out it was her," said Kelly Lott, the 5 pm producer here at WMBF News.
Kelly also worked at that station around the same time Alison started. She had to write the words detailing her former co-workers death.
"I tried to put the show first…the pacing, making sure we were on time with everything but it was hard doing that yesterday….it was physically hard," shared Kelly.
Both Kelly and Ashley choose to remember Alison as the woman so full of life and laughter.
"Someone sent me the killer's video and I don't need to watch that. I don't need to remember her any other way than this incredible vivacious, wonderful, beautiful woman that she was," said Ashley.
Alison had big dreams. There was no doubt in our News Directors mind that she would get there.
"With such big dreams, and promise and then something like yesterday happening…it is hard to reconcile….with someone who had so much promise," said Ashley.
With those memories, our News Director also guides us forward as a station to cover and share your stories. A mission we will continue to do as professionals, but also as people, with empathy.