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9/11 A Broadcaster’s Memory

I’ve been seeing so much coverage of the 10th commemoration of 9/11. It all took me back to that horrible day.

Generally speaking we are an entertainment station, but there were listeners that stayed with us on that day for news and information. I have been in broadcasting for nearly 40 years. Nothing compares to this.

I even ran into a Doctor of mine, who was surprised that we covered the events of that day as we did. I expected him to have switched to CNN, but instead he stayed with us.

I’m not sure if it was out of shock that they lingered with us, a feeling of kinship, or just inability to process all that was happening, but I am glad they-you did.


US FLAG
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

I’ve always been a bit of a news-geo-political junkie, so I really wasn’t all that surprised by the terrible events that day. Though, I’m not sure I could have ever imagined their scope.

I had educated myself in such affairs since an early age, being the son of am Army Officer. He was gone much of my young life, fighting to protect what we cherish, so dearly.

With 9/11 in mind, I hope that in addition to mourning, we can celebrate life. Celebrate those who showed incredible courage in the face of unbelievable adversity. Celebrate in the firefighters, policemen and women, rescue workers and ordinary people that showed what it is to be human.

I’m not sure I could do as they did, but I certainly hope I would.

To give with no regard to personal safety, but with the ultimate regard for other persons’ safety.

Celebrate and honor the men and women in uniform and their families who have sacrificed so much.

Celebrate the people in your everyday life. Pick up the phone, go to lunch, treasure those who are in your life. Those who make your life special, everyday!

It took me a few years to write about this subject. Normally I can write about anything in a heartbeat, but it took me until 2007 before I could begin to put into words what it felt like to be on the air that sunny morning.

And even then, I feel, I didn’t do it justice.

Below is a blog I wrote that attempts to chronicle what I personally remember from that day on the air, oh so woefully.

But we each take away our individual, thoughts and remembrances of traumatic events.

I will never forget my 14 year old daughter’s puzzled look as I tried to explain the events that were occurring. I’m sure there were millions of similar discussions.

Embrace those in your life! Do it now!


From an earlier post:

The image of 9/11 that is emblazoned in my mind is not the falling of the twin towers or the pictures of the planes on that brilliant sunny day.

My earliest and most vivid 9/11 memory is words on a computer screen. There was a foreboding sense that this wasn’t going to be a normal day on the radio.

My AP wire first revealed that a plane had crashed in one of the towers of the World Trade Center. As with many news stories, the flashes were a little confused. Was it a small plane? Was it a larger plane? At first glance, it seemed like it was yet another tragedy in the daily flood of news that comes into our studio.

As the details trickled in, I started to get a feeling in my gut that this was not a normal aviation disaster, but something more, even though there was no real indication in the initial reports of the enormity of what was really happening – yet.

Then the words came across the AP bulletin with a flash about a 2nd plane. It was at that instant that I knew this was a terrorist attack.

We instantly went into overload, trying to get more information to broadcast. Even though we’re an entertainment program on a music station, we knew that we had to get this information out.

We had to try to understand these events just as everyone else was. We needed to process the information and try to make sense of it. The difference was that we were doing it in a very public manner.

We instantly turned into a talk radio station, reporting what we could find out from news wires, websites, TV’s tuned to every station we could.

We were fielding hundreds of calls from listeners asking what was going on, telling us what was going on, just trying to understand how something so horrible could happen. And on purpose.

This was no act of God, no earthquake, no, this was a man made calamity of the worst sort.

Evil in it’s truest form.

The radio station almost immediately began a simulcast with one of our sister stations. Four people on the air trying to make some sense of an unexplainable situation. Between us there was over 100 years of broadcast experience, but for whatever reason I felt like a rookie that day. Unable to ever quite say what I thought needed to be said.

In the back of my mind I knew there would be thousands of people in those buildings and that right now, so many of them were going through the ultimate hell.

People were dying as I was speaking. That reality was a cruel twist to the profession I have chosen and love. It gave me a sick feeling in my gut.

I felt such a responsibility to do this right. To broadcast with a sense of importance beyond anything that I had ever experienced before.

At one point during those hectic moments, we took a mental break. The on air crew gathered outside the station on what was a gorgeous sunny morning. I couldn’t help but think that this is what it looked like and felt like in New York on that morning.

We held hands. We prayed. It was all we could do.

Then we went back to our broadcast and picked up where we left off.

Then came the words that I can’t get out of my mind. The AP bulletin was short, but I knew what it meant.

“Tower number one has fallen”.

I can still see those words in my mind’s eye. A building the size of the World Trade Center had collapsed? That was tantamount to some cataclysmic astronomical event.

As I tried to process that piece of information and continue the broadcast I knew it was going to be a long day and that the world as we knew it, would never be the same again.


I would ask that you share your respectful comments and observations in our comment box below.

Thank you for taking to time to read this.

Michael

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