Locked in Fate A man I never knew died months ago. I am still heartbroken. I heard his voice in my room for two years. If I had passed him on the street, I would not have known who he was. He was the first voice I heard telling about the tragedy that would change our country. Now he too is gone.
Chris Bruney was the morning news anchor on the radio station KPFA. I started to listen to KPFA two years ago. I loved their music show, "First Light" -- he would come on at six in the morning. I loved how he would say good morning to the morning DJ, he would say good morning to the listeners. He would read the news in a quiet voice, a calm voice. I was so used to morning DJ’s giving sound bytes, the latest celebrity news. Not Chris Bruney. He would read the news with precision and care, with respect. He knew listeners couldn’t care less about Angelina Jolie not being friends with Billy Bob Thornton, or that Legally Blonde Two opened at 24 million at the box office. He knew that people wanted the news.
He was always calm, kind. I felt about him like people did about Walter Cronkite -- he could tell us the news, no bull, straight. He could be funny. Last year during a bad cold spell, he said: “Weather for the Bay Area...it’s going to be tropical! Weather in the seventies and eighties...I’m just kidding with you.” I was listening to it, smiling, thinking in a Raymond Babbit/ Dustin Hoffman way: “Hey. Chris Bruney made a joke.”
Chris Bruney also told about many people that had died the past two years, people like Mimi Fairina. George Harrison. Lars-Erik Nelson. Fred Rodgers. Gregory Peck. Katharine Hepburn. Pauline Kael (who also got her start on KPFA) He did not gush over these people like many people do during obituaries. He told the news. He knew simply saying the news, with their achievements, was eloquent enough.
I will always feel bonded to Mr. Bruney because of one day. It was a fall morning. I had set my alarm early. I had planned on getting up early to clean my kitchen. I laid in bed, stretching, listening to Mike MacLean. I heard Chris Bruney’s voice. I was expecting news about Governor Davis, something benign. In his quiet way, he announced that a plane just hit one of the World Trade Towers. I remember sitting up in bed, thinking, what in the world? Instead of reacting, he kept on reading. Looking back, I am in awe of this. He didn’t preach. He didn’t react in anger. He did his job. On a day when the worst happened, he kept on going. He might’ve collapsed afterwards. When it mattered, he kept his cool. He did the best he could. To me that was incredible, awesome.
Now he’s gone, dead of a heart attack. I had missed the news about his death because I had problems with my radio. I turned it on tonight to hear the news. I immediately got tears in my eyes. I should’ve told him thank you. Thank you for being so calm that day. Thank you for doing your job. Thank you for being there.
There’s a passage in Wally Lamb’s She’s Come Undone when Mr. Pucci, a guidance counselor to the wayward Dolores, tells her why they are connected. Years before, they saw men landing on the moon on television. “You and I are locked together for life...It’s fate: not a damn thing either of us can do about it.” Chris Bruney and I were locked together for life because of that fall day. Nothing can change that, not even death.
Causes Jennifer Gibbons Supports
Gilda's Club, Greenpeace, Rosie's Broadway Kids,Westwind Foster Family Agency, Amber Brown Fund, Linda Duncan Fund for Contra Costa Libraries