It’s Patriot Day. September 11th, 2001, where were you?
Some of you remember the day very clearly. Some of you were too little to fully remember. You remember parts of the day. We all can agree that it was a horrifying day that changed our lives forever.
We just finished the morning show when the unthinkable happened. Of course we went back on the air for the rest of the day.
Jonathan was in elementary school. I remember wanting to make sure he was safe. Such an emotional day. The news was happening so fast, you could barely keep up with it. Newspapers were outdated the moment they were printed. Though, they were destined to be keepers.
There was an eerie silence in the skies. The sky was blue and the sun was shining. Nothing was in the sky, except fighter jets. They were anything but silent. With Letterkenny, Ft. Richie and the Underground Pentagon in our area, they were protecting our area. There was a certain reassurance and fear all at the same time.
I really don’t want to see repeat footage of the twin towers getting hit and subsequently falling to the ground. It’s awful.
We’ve been to the Ground Zero Memorial twice and the Shanksville Memorial numerous times.
We went to Ground Zero when they had a chain link fence surrounding the site. It was eerie. You could feel–something. We visited the permanent Memorial last year. It is well done. Don’t go unless you have the emotional time and expenditure to invest. We were late in the day and at our energy peak. We didn’t rush through, but we could have spent so much more time there. Very interesting place.
Shanksville was emotionally ripping when the Memorial was temporary and make-shift. People left little mementos behind. There was a little angel along the field representing each victim. Locals also volunteered answering questions. There was a black book with info about each passenger. Several times, I over heard conversations indicating family members were there. Always an emotional experience. Over the years the Memorial has morphed into what it is today, a permanent structure. While it’s well done, it’s not nearly as emotionally “raw” as in the past. There is a walkway around the perimeter. It’s a nice walk on a sunny day! Go when you have time.
Let us know your memories from the day. And, tell us if you’ve visited the Memorials and your thoughts.
And now, a few words from Rick:
9-11-01: A Radio Station Perspective
September 11, 2001 had a very non-descript, even boring kind of a beginning. For some reason, I remember that. I also remember the Rick & Lisa Show from that morning was kind of the same, nothing really memorable about it. Somewhere we have a tape of that show. It would be interesting to hear what we talked about that morning before the world changed.
I remember unplugging my headphones after our show ended that morning and walking down the hall to head to the bathroom when I stopped by our newsroom where the Today Show was on the TV. They were showing a plane hanging off of the side of The World Trade Center. By the tones of their voices, Katie Couric and Matt Lauer didn’t seem overly concerned about it. They opined that it may have been a private plane that was lodged in the building. Then it happened!! I witnessed Plane number two crashing in The World Trade Center in real time! It was now clear that whatever this was, was intentional and evil.
After briefly monitoring the situation, Lisa and I decided to return to the air to cover the unfolding events live. One factor that influenced our decision to do this was that MIX95.1 did not have access to a network. If we had, we may have just turned it on and let the network coverage air. Many radio stations did just that. I’m glad we didn’t have a network, because some of the best radio broadcasting I’ve ever had the privilege to be a part of would have never happened.
The news was breaking fast and furious. We dropped all music programming that day and just followed the news live on air. News Director Lisa Kline worked all of her sources as she shared the anchoring duties with Lisa and Me. Remember, this was before social media, texting and smartphones. News came from websites and cable. Things were happening so furiously, newspapers were dated before they came off the press. Between the stories, we took phone calls live on air. Local Pastor Pat Jones offered prayer on air. At about 2PM, we played “The Star Spangled Banner” from Whitney Houston.
It seemed that everyone in the Four State region was listening to MIX95.1. Places that didn’t normally listen to radio had MIX95.1 cranked up loud. In restaurants, stores and offices, a good many people got their news from MIX95.1 that day. We still hear about it to this day. There are lot personal stories from that day. I have two. My middle brother Steve, who is a pharmaceutical rep, was in Manhattan on 9-11 for a conference. I wanted to talk to him on air. I tried numerous times to reach his cell, but I was not successful. Circuits were overloaded and infrastructure was destroyed in the attack, leaving many in a communications lurch. I didn’t think anything had happened to Steve, but you’re never sure until you hear a voice. He finally got in touch with me in late afternoon and we had him on the air at around 4PM. He was O.K., but it turns out the hotel he had been originally booked in was right next door to The World Trade Center. After the attacks, he was not allowed to leave his hotel. As you know, the airports had been shut down and he had flown to New York. By late the next day, he was allowed to leave the city. He and a couple of his colleagues rented a car to get home.
I also remember picking up Jonathan from school. He was in the fourth grade. The school had done a good job of insulating the kids from the day’s events. I don’t remember him being overly concerned about it. One thing he said brought me to tears. The year prior, 2000, we travelled to New York City to celebrate Lisa’s birthday. On that trip we toured the World Trade Center. I had just bought a new video camera, but had left either the charger or battery at home, so sadly, I do not have footage of the WTC from that trip.
That visit to the World Trade Center was traumatic for us. The three of us spent time in the WTC gift shop, picking souvenirs. After we purchased our trinkets, at the last minute, I went back to buy another souvenir for Jonathan. Because of that, I missed the elevator down. I caught the next one. Then for at least 45 minutes, I could not find Lisa and Jonathan! I went up and down several times, to no avail. As I started to panic, wondering if I’d ever see them again, I finally realized I had boarded a different elevator, one that stopped at a different floor.
Later, on the evening of 9-11 Jonathan asked me if the lady in the gift shop had died in the World Trade Center attack. That caused me to break down as it put a human face on the tragedy. I did some research through some radio contacts and found that the gift shop would not have been open at the time of the attacks and the woman had been spared.
I began to wonder if things would ever get back to normal. Songs like “I’m A Believer” from Smash Mouth, a big hit at the time, seemed so disconnected from this new reality. The next morning we took many phone calls and played patriotic music on the Rick & Lisa Show. On Thursday, we handed out red, white and blue ribbons on the squares in Chambersburg and Hagerstown while we played more patriotic music.
Eventually, we settled back into “normal”, albeit a new normal. It is still hard for me to look back at that time and see all the horror and destruction. I pray we never see it again. It would be nice, though, to experience even a little bit of the unity we felt that day.