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Stephanie Stricklen

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.:Watch Steph Meltdown Live:.

by Stephanie Stricklen


Posted on March 21, 2008 at 9:36 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:42 PM

I wish I could tell you that headline was some sort of joke, but if you were up at 4:30 am watching our newscast then you know it isn't. I had a complete and total 100% meltdown on the air.

Before I link you to the clip.. let me set it up.

When I come in to read scripts before the show, I read my part.. not the verbatim transcript of the interviews. And usually if we have very compelling interviews in our newscast, a producer will mention it before you go out on the set. But it was a very busy morning with the Barack Obama stuff and it just didn't happen.

So, I hit the story... which (imagine this) is about a firefighter who gets a call about a woman stranded on a bridge. He responds. I'll leave it at that-- you can watch what unfolds.
And that awful 20 seconds of silence that follows is me in a sheer panic because I am now bawling and have to continue on with the newscast. There is no other anchor because Russ is off. So, I sat there and did my best to get it together and, well, you can see that, too.

I plowed through the rest of the next story thinking, "Just get to weather... get to weather." And god bless Nick who took over and gave me the minute or two I needed to compose myself.

You know, I'm going to admit this here and now: during stories about funerals, soldier deaths, 9/11, Katrina, crimes against children when an emotional parent is giving the interview-- basically anytime someone is sharing their excrutiating pain on the news... I try to distance myself from it. I do. So this exact thing doesn't happen. And many, many, many times I have failed and ended up misty-eyed.

But I have never, ever totally lost it like this. I was just watching the story so intently.. not expecting him to say those things.. that I had zero distance on it. I didn't know it was coming. And the thing about the news: it isn't Hollywood, people. This is a real human being.. a man in terrible agony.. who will never ever be able to shake the image or her words from his head. It will haunt him forever.

As soon as I got off the set I was dreading the emails, but, I read some very thoughtful, very kind ones from Joshua, Bob, and Liz. So a heartfelt thank you for making me feel better about what happened this morning. My little emotional ourburst is nothing compared to what many people who find themselves interviewed for our newscast are going through. I wish that firefighter, Joe Coelho, all my best from the very bottom of my heart.