A shooting inside the WORT-FM radio station in Downtown Madison early Sunday left a disc jockey with a non life-threatening injury.
Around 3 a.m., a masked shooter entered the progressive radio station at 118 S. Bedford St. and opened fire on three volunteer radio hosts in the station’s Combo B studio as the three fled the room to take cover, said David Devereaux-Weber, president of WORT’s board of directors.
“A person entered the station and went into the studio and fired a number of shots,” Devereaux-Weber said. “(The hosts) ducked and ran into the master control room and from there into our music library and hid from the shooter.”
Madison police spokesman Howard Payne said the disc jockey, a 33-year-old man, had a non-life-threatening gunshot wound and was taken to a hospital. Devereaux-Weber said the man was shot in the buttocks and had been released from the hospital by Sunday afternoon.
Payne said the shooting was not random, and there was no risk to the public. Police are searching for the shooter and did not speculate on a motive for the shooting.
On Sunday afternoon, as show tunes were playing on WORT’s airwaves, Devereaux-Weber pointed out where one bullet penetrated two panes of glass separating the Combo B studio and the master control room where the hosts had fled through. Two other bullet holes could be seen in sound-dampening material on the studio’s wall.
There was no indication that the shooting was related to WORT’s news production, Devereaux-Weber said, and any motive is unclear since the shooter did not speak.
“We’ve given the police some leads about people who might have reason to do something, but these are all long shots, and police have to track it down,” Devereaux-Weber said.
He said the three volunteers took shelter behind a refrigerator in the library that contains hundreds of vinyl albums and called 911 from a landline phone that was next to the refrigerator.
The shooting left them “quite shaken up,” he said.
“It sort of breaks your sense of safety when this happens,” Devereaux-Weber said. “I think it’s going to bring the volunteers of the station closer together.”
He declined to identify the hosts, citing a desire to keep their identities confidential as the shooter remains at-large.
“I think they’re a little bit worried right now,” Devereaux-Weber said.
WORT was transitioning between its programs when the shooter came in.
Two of the hosts in the studio were wrapping up their midnight program, Universal Soul Explosion, while the third host came in to start WORT’s 3 a.m. show for the day, Life Music, said Devereaux-Weber, one of the founders of the listener-supported radio station that broadcasts on 89.9 FM.
“The person was wearing a mask and a hoodie and did not speak,” Devereaux-Weber said of the shooter, adding that the hosts heard about five gunshots.
Since a code is needed to get into the building, Devereaux-Weber said he is unsure whether the shooter knew the code or held the door open after someone entered the station.
Music was playing on air and the microphones were turned off when the shooting occurred, so the gunshots were not heard by listeners, he said.
Once the loop of music that was playing wrapped up, the station went silent until police let volunteers back in and programming resumed at 9:38 a.m., Devereaux-Weber said.
Community support throughout Sunday was “excellent,” Devereaux-Weber said, with tons of phone calls to the station and volunteers stopping by.
“The Madison community is just amazing in how it supports us,” he said.
First hitting the airwaves in 1975, WORT is a nonprofit radio station that relies on hundreds of volunteers to host music programs, produce shows, report on local news and perform other tasks.
The Madison Police Department’s Violent Crime Unit is investigating the shooting, and anyone with information is asked to call Madison Area Crime Stoppers at 266-6014.