The voice behind ‘The UT Tower Sniper’

Photo by Lizzie Chen

During my first semester here at the University of Texas campus, I took a class with Professor Robert Quigley, who mentioned creating the Drag Audio Production House and its series called “Darkness.” At the time, audio journalism wasn’t what I had in mind, but when he said they were thinking about a future season of Darkness about the UT tower shootings in 1966, I knew I wanted to be involved.

I didn’t know much about the tragedy at the time, but — like most of my generation — I grew up doing various drills for potential shooters and bombs throughout my K-12 years. I never went through an actual shooting, but I’ve been through plenty of threats and lockdowns and know just how common they are for students in post-Columbine America. 

I wanted to know what happened in the U.S. between 1966 and today, and how we got to a place where mass shootings are just another headline most weeks.

I quickly became interested in how different Aug. 1, 1966, was from modern-day school shootings, yet how similar it was, too. They may not have had 911 or cell phones, but they had the same media frenzy and demand for action that we see today.

Soon after my deep dive into that day, Professor Quigley let me pitch the story to him and Katey Psencik Outka, who are both the executive producers of the season. They hired me that same meeting and here we are a year and a half later! 

It’s been an absolute honor to talk to these survivors, heroes, students and their families and tell their stories. Over all that time reporting, writing, and more, my goal has always been to narrate their experiences sensitively, but also in a way that you can hear the gravity of their day. 

As the new school year rolls around, I hope all of you who listen hear the value in their experiences and think about the state of schools today. Because even though this shooting took place almost 57 years ago, it’s a reminder of what many kids today have gone through and what others will go through this year — unless something changes.

Further reading

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