ATASCADERO – When 1964 Atascadero High School alumna Linda Carroll saw the documentary-style seventh episode of the new Netflix series “Shot in the Dark,” she was moved to tears. A short segment of the episode told the story of “SLOStringer” Matthew Frank, who spent his life chasing breaking news stories in San Luis Obispo County for his website and died at age 30 in a car crash just north of Cuesta Grade this past March. He died doing what he knew best, en route to cover a house fire in Atascadero.
“I was so affected by seeing the tribute for SLOStringer,” Carroll said. “Matthew was such a big part of all our lives. Whenever we wanted to know what's going on, we went right to his page.”
“Shot in the Dark” covers rival news “stringers” as they film breaking news — be it a crime scene or a car accident. A stringer is a freelance journalist. A portion of one episode follows three stringers who travelled to town for Franks’ memorial service.
“I saw all the other stringers at his memorial, which made me tear up,” Carroll said. “It showed the motorcycle riders, his mother spoke and I really cried. When they'd show his picture it'd make me smile. He is so missed by all. His parents sure raised a good, caring son! I hope everyone will watch that show, if for nothing else, for his tribute!”
The City of Atascadero came up several times in the new Netflix miniseries “Godless” as well. Throughout the fictional series, about a ruthless outlaw who terrorizes the West in search of a former member of his gang who has established new roots in a sleepy town populated only by women, Atascadero is mentioned as a real place —verbally and even as a return address on an envelope. The show mistakes the founding year of the city as about a hundred years before it was actually founded, but the mention is in there nonetheless, and has gotten locals on the “I Grew Up in Atascadero” Facebook page excited. Like Sharon Wells (Mitchell), who just started watching the Godless series. “In the first episode there is a letter addressed from Atascadero,” said Wells, who graduated Atascadero High School in 1990 “This made my night.”