They texted each other. They messaged former colleagues. They cried when the cameras were off during the few merciful commercial breaks.
But in the hours after WBTV staff members learned that two colleagues, Jason Myers and Chip Tayag, were killed in a helicopter crash off of I-77 on Tuesday, they did the thing they do:
- They went in front of the camera and talked about it.
Ducks on the water: calm on the surface, fretful beneath. From 12:30pm to about 3pm, they all knew the news but didn’t report it, not until they were certain that Chip and Jason’s families knew, too.
- They talked about CMPD’s updates. They talked about the traffic backups and workarounds — yes, they still helped you plan your route home.
- They talked around the things they couldn’t talk about, even if other outlets were less patient, because they knew that even in today’s always-on news cycle — or maybe especially in today’s always-on news cycle — the most important words are the ones we wait to say.
Then, just after 3pm, pictures of the two men were on the screen. They were smiling. Molly Grantham and Jamie Boll, two of the station’s most experienced anchors, swallowed hard and spoke their names.
Except for a break for the nightly news, Grantham and Boll stayed on the air until 8pm. Other staff members showed up at the station, not knowing what else to do. Former staffers did, too. The police chief and mayor and governor and county manager and Panthers and Knights offered condolences.
- As the night grew on, more people started to realize what they were watching. “There aren’t enough words to properly do justice to the on air job being done by the staff of @WBTV_News. They have been showing extraordinary strength in the midst of this. I can’t fathom doing this,” WFNZ’s Travis Hancock tweeted.
Between the lines: WBTV is our news partner, but the relationship is a little deeper than that. Laura worked there as a producer before joining Axios in 2021. She won an Emmy there with her team. And she became friends with Jason and Chip.
- Michael’s wife worked there for several years — and so did his mother-in-law, back in the 1970s — and he co-authored a book with WBTV reporter Nick Ochsner.
Point is, they’re our extended work family. We email them every day, text them every day, and we hope like hell we never have to see messages like the ones we saw yesterday again.
The bottom line: We’ll let Laura close this, with what she wrote late Tuesday afternoon, for Wednesday’s Axios Charlotte newsletter, under this photo.
Chip and Jason were two of the nicest people I had the pleasure of working with during my time at WBTV.
Chip helped me fulfill a lifelong dream of riding inside a helicopter, and the view of the Charlotte skyline from above is a memory I’ll always cherish. The fact that I can share it with you here is all thanks to him.
- Chip was an experienced pilot of more than 20 years, and while I struggled with the camera equipment he had taught me how to operate, his steady hands, composure, experience and calmness made me think: Hey, I can do this.
- My thoughts are with his family, especially his wife, whom he recently married.
As for Jason, you can thank him for all of our weather updates. He was my go-to weather guy and always answered my calls with a cheery “How’s it going?”
- I’m comforted knowing Jason’s family has a strong sense of faith, which I know they’re leaning heavily on right now.
- If it’s your thing, consider praying for his four kids and wife, who he loved more than anything.
A GoFundMe was created for both Jason and Chip. If you’d like to support their families, you can do so here.
The post WBTV’s staff mourned and reported the news all at once after helicopter crash appeared first on Axios Charlotte.