As local TV reporters scrambled to keep track of the aftermath of the July 20 midnight movie massacre in Aurora, Colo., KOLD Channel 13 morning anchor Kayna Whitworth stood out for her authority and experience with the area.
Born and raised in Colorado, Whitworth attended the same Aurora High School as one of the victims, 27-year-old Alex Sullivan.
"He was a few years behind me in school but known well in the athletic community," Whitworth said via email. "My dad was the high school football coach at the time, and Alex was heavily involved in the football program. I am hearing that he was quite the hero that night. I'm told that he stood up and shielded his friends from bullets during the shooting. They were out to celebrate his birthday."
The morning after the shooting, Whitworth stayed composed, showing just enough emotion to relate her personal connection to the city without sacrificing any professionalism.
Her insight was valuable. Walking viewers through an onscreen map, she drew on her memories to illustrate where the shooting occurred and outline the response by authorities.
"It's terrible to think of my hometown under fire like this. I lived in a wonderful community, and I'm so proud of my roots," Whitworth said. "It's hard being so far away right now. I've been talking with my friends, and they send me pictures from the memorials."
A high school sophomore in 1999, when the Columbine massacre occurred, Whitworth is all too familiar with her home state's history of shocking violence.
"The bloodshed of young people because of senseless violence in Colorado is heartbreaking," she said. "I have a platform to tell stories, and I must cover it from all angles. As hard as it is sometimes, I know that I'm no good to anyone if I can't hold it together."
Local launches Web series
Tucson filmmaker Eric Schumacher's series "Zhon: The Alien Interviews," starring Robert Linden as a man who claims to be an extraterrestrial, has launched at www.whoiszhon.com
Schumacher rounded up an entirely local cast and crew and shot the show in Tucson. They worked for more than three years to film 22 episodes, divided into three seasons, running at total of about 210 minutes.
"This series was created in part to promote the careers of local artists, and we go to extremes to make sure that our fans know who was involved in the creation of the show and can connect with them," Schumacher said via email, adding that he's planning two more series.
Pac-12 on entry-level Comcast tier
Comcast revealed the Pac-12 Network - Arizona, which launches Aug. 15, will be included in the cable provider's lower-end Digital Starter package, which is good news for thrifty football fans, since the network will broadcast two of the Arizona Wildcats' first three games this season.
The Pac-12 Network's national feed, meanwhile, will only be available via the Sports Entertainment tier.
Satellite providers are holding their breath because neither Dish Network nor DirecTV has yet to solidify a deal with the network.
Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or firstname.lastname@example.org