The first notes of a new podcast feature the father of a Lewiston mass shooting victim singing a song he wrote to honor the “18 souls so, so beautiful” who perished during a rampage at two entertainment venues Oct. 25, 2023.

Arthur Barnard, whose son Arthur Strout was killed while playing pool at Schemengees Bar & Grille that awful evening, is one of those featured in the three-part Spectrum News podcast about gun violence that totals about 100 minutes.

Tim Boyum Submitted photo

Hosted by a North Carolina journalist, Tim Boyum, the series aims to give an on-the-ground perspective about guns in America following the killings in Lewiston.

“To an outsider, Lewiston largely looks normal,” the host said. “But deep down, this community feels an intense pain, a unique kind of pain a community feels after a mass shooting.”

Boyum said Tuesday he tried to capture the different sides of the story fairly and accurately and to bring a feeling of Maine into it as well.

“Y’all are living through this,” he said.

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The first episode of “Guns: United in Grief, Divided on Solutions” is available for listening on major platforms starting Wednesday, with parts two and three available on May 22 and May 29.

The series vows to provide more focus on people and less on institutions and politicians.

“We share a lot more than we think, including some differences,” Boyum said early in the first episode.

Boyum, a Minnesota native who has been working as a journalist in North Carolina for the past 17 years, said he learned Barnard’s story when he read a New Year’s Eve story about him in the Portland Press Herald.

He sent him a message that night and before January was out, Boyum flew to Maine to talk to Barnard and others who could help him piece together a story.

Boyum said he also traveled around the state, even journeying to Houlton, to talk to others who could provide a range of perspectives on “such a difficult subject.”

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He said he tries to use his skills as a storyteller to bring people together and make them “stop and think” about views that don’t match their own in a bid “to get people talking again who don’t really agree with one another.”

Boyum said a podcast offers some advantages over other forms of media because they can “go deeper” in fleshing out a story while bringing an intimacy that creates “a much tighter connection” between host and listener than most reporting allows.

“It’s like you and the host having a conversation,” he said.

Relying on audio, he said, helps to fire the imagination of listeners and “draw them in” by letting them hear, for instance, the pool balls bouncing around a table while Barnard speaks.

After talking to people in Maine, and drawing on his experience in North Carolina, Boyum said he thinks there is “a middle ground” about guns “where most of America would agree.”

But, he said, the heavily partisan politics these days leave little hope of adopting that consensus.

Boyum said, though, that “Maine got potentially as close as it could” in the recent session of the Legislature by expanding background checks for private sales of weapons, beefing up the state’s “yellow flag” law and cracking down on the transfer of guns to prohibited people.


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