Senior Kylie Johnson got a little more than she bargained for when news reporter Martina Del Bonta live tweeted her interaction with ORU alumnus Jonathan Fruh on their flight from Phoenix, Arizona to Tulsa, Oklahoma over Christmas break.
Del Bonta, the weekend sports reporter for Tulsa’s Fox 23 noticed the two after Fruh mentioned he found it interesting how he went to ORU, but never met Johnson and overheard their discussion of mutual appreciation for Switchfoot lead singer Jon Foreman.
“As a journalist, your ears kind of perk up,” said Del Bonta. “You’re always aware of your surroundings because you’re always looking for interesting and unique stories.”
When Del Bonta sent her initial tweet about Johnson and Fruh’s conversation, she did not think anyone would take notice, but her coworkers urged her to keep listening as the tweets gained more popularity as people hoped there would be a romantic connection.
“If you think about it, they weren’t talking about anything crazy,” Del Bonta said. “They were talking mostly about school and different books and what they want to do when they graduate. So it wasn’t romance novel type, but people were definitely hooked on it.”
Johnson said she and Fruh sat on the same row on the flight in order to continue their conversation covering topics such as Rob Bell, Christianity and American consumerism as Del Bonta continued to watch and attempt to listen to the two, going so far as to purchase Wi-Fi for the two hour trip.
“Everyone wanted to know how it was going to end,” said Del Bonta.
Andrew Carter, Del Bonta’s coworker, met her at baggage claim once the flight landed as she sought to find Johnson and Fruh to explain what had been happening online.
Johnson said two “well-dressed, expressive people” were calling for her from across baggage claim telling her to wait.
“They rushed up and started talking really fast saying words like ‘Twitter’ and ‘viral’ and ‘so cute,’” said Johnson.
Del Bonta showed Johnson and Fruh her Twitter timeline once the duo had been tracked down.
“I had no intention of approaching them once we landed or talking to them about what was going on, but so many people hopped onto the story that they wanted this to be a happy ending,” Del Bonta said. “I think with it being the holidays and the news being the way it is, I think people were attracted to the fact that it was such a happy story, and it was innocent.”
Both appreciated the enthusiasm people had toward the story, and Fruh posted on his Facebook page how he had “a ton of fun with it all,” even though parts were a bit exaggerated.
“I don’t think [Del Bonta and Carter] purposefully tried to falsify anything,” said Johnson. “I do think that they are reporters and their job is to highlight certain details of events in an effort to create noteworthy news. That’s what they’re paid to do and in that sense you can’t blame them for running with a story receiving so much attention.”
The two have expressed having no hard feelings toward Del Bonta, Carter or Fox 23, and thought their day of fame was quite the adventure.
Johnson wants everyone to be reminded, just like she was, to put down the phone and experience life for themselves and not just through people on the Internet.
Southwest Airlines, ORU Athletics, Cain’s Ballroom and QuikTrip all offered services for Johnson and Fruh to go on a date.
The two, while grateful for the offers, have agreed to just remain friends but hope to see these offers benefit the ORU student body, not just themselves.
“I’ve really enjoyed our budding friendship,” said Fruh. “The dream is to get Southwest to fly Jon Foreman to ORU for a free show where QuikTrip provides pizza, and Fox News live tweets the whole event. Something like that. We’d definitely be there.”
Photo courtesy of Martina Del Bonta