Christine Chubbuck was a broadcast major at Boston University. It was a bold direction for the timid, quiet girl from Shaker Heights, who, as a teen formed the group “Dateless Wonders Knitting Club” at the high school she attended.
Christine pursued her chosen profession at several television stations in her native Ohio, nearby Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and, eventually, Florida. She was hired by Sarasota’s ABC-affiliate WXLT-TV, first as a reporter, then as the host of a morning community affairs talk show called Suncoast Digest. The twenty-nine year old took her position very seriously and researched many topics for inclusion in the show.
On July 15, 1974, Christine opened her show with a newscast, something she had never done before. The morning’s show guest waited off-stage while Christine read three national news stories followed by an account of a shooting at a local restaurant. When technical difficulties kept the accompanying film footage of the story from being shown, Christine shrugged, looked straight into the camera and said: “In keeping with Channel 40’s policy of bringing you the latest in ‘blood and guts’, and in living color, you are going to see another first—attempted suicide.”
She drew a revolver from under the anchor desk and shot herself behind her right ear. Christine fell forward, bleeding profusely. The show’s technical director gave the signal for the cameramen to fade to black. A public service announcement ran, followed by a movie. In the panic on the set, the station news director picked up Christine’s script and read it completely, finding that, in addition to the words she spoke on-camera, it also contained a third-person account to be read by whichever staff member took over the broadcast.
Christine died at Sarasota Memorial Hospital 14 hours after the on-air incident.