CHICAGO (CBS) — Even though it happened halfway around the world, the suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, touched many people in Chicago, including the staff at B96, which has promoted the singer for years.
Grande, 23, is incredibly young for a multi-platinum singer, and her fans are typically even younger, so the Manchester attack is even more appalling, since it was essentially directed at Britain’s children.
B96 morning host J Niice has relatives in Manchester, so word of the bombing left the normally jocular host thinking about the fragility of life.
“She’s young, and her fans are young, and this is the last thing that anybody with that amount of following and influence wants to feel like they had a part in any of these heinous acts,” he said. “But this has nothing to do with her. This is an act of barbarism on the part of the terrorists.”
A woman who was in the arena when the bomber detonated an improvised explosive device as the concert was ending spoke to B96 about the terror she and her daughter witnessed.
“All of a sudden this stampede of people screaming ‘Run, run run!’” she said. “We were just trying to keep hold of our children, and run to the nearest exit; run down the steps, and I’m shouting to my friend, ‘Just keep running, just keep running!’”
It’s not the type of content listeners normally expect to hear on the top 40 music station, but B96 has been working with and promoting Grande for more than five years.
“She’s come here. She’s done our Summer Bashes, our Jingle Bashes. She’s come and done interviews with us. We know her personally,” J Niice said.
Grande headlined a United Center concert in March, and B96 producer Gabe Ramirez and the morning crew introduced her to the sold-out crowd.
“She’s an amazing performer. She has an amazing voice. She’s such a small person, but a voice that could fill up an entire arena,” Ramirez said.
Showbiz Shelly had a message for Grande’s fans, known as Arianators.
“Instead of erring on the side of anger and hatred, instead come to the side of love, and try to come together as a community and to spread as much positivity as possible,” she said.
Meantime, an official at the British consulate in Chicago said messages of condolence have been pouring in since the attack, which killed at least 22 people, and wounded 59 more. The consulate said they are waiting for direction from London on whether they will hold a memorial in Chicago.
In response to the Manchester attack, Chicago police said “there is no nexus or known threat to the Chicago area, but as always, we encourage individuals to report any suspicious activity.”
Allstate Arena in Rosemont, which hosts a concert by The Weekend on Tuesday, said fans can expect an increased police present inside and outside the arena.