A random look at the life and times of Jim Rising recovering radio addict and newspaper columnist.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11 Redux

I was furious.
I drove like a maniac to the radio station, braked hard to a four wheel skid, jumped from my car, straight armed the doors and slammed into the lobby.
I was pissed off.
My anger was directed at the morning duo, just hired, for the radio station I programmed. The pair, Kimberly and Beck, had been doing a bit about a plane crashing into the World Trade center. At least I thought it was a bit.
I didn’t find it at all funny. I raced towards the studio intent on giving the errant DJ’s a piece of my mind.
As I passed by the news room I glanced at the small TV mounted on the wall and skidded to halt, digging my heels in the carpet.
My jaw dropped.
The world slowed down.
I said “Oh. My. God.”
In the news room a small group had gathered, looking at the TV. The cute sales assistant who was always bright and bubbly, looked at me. Her face was ashen.
As I looked from her to the TV the second tower was hit. The cute sales assistant burst into tears.
Bud Brown, the crusty, seasoned news veteran who had covered it all was frozen in place. It was clear he couldn’t handle the images on the TV any better than the rest of us.
I had just seen a documentary on the terrorist threat and I said “that Osama guy did this.” No one said a word.
The news about the Pentagon came.
The broadcaster in us kicked in.
The people, our audiences, had to know.
In times like that necessity is the mother of invention. Only one of the five radio stations under our control that day was news oriented. The others were music intensive and didn’t even have a network affiliation.
The engineers ran wires down the hallways and struggled to make connections so we could get radio network news on the air. DJ’s, used to cracking jokes and introducing records were tongue tied.
It was taking too long.
Each studio had a TV. In desperation I ordered the DJ’s in each station to turn the volume up and hold a microphone to the speakers. The image of those announcers stretching their arms to get the microphones near the TV’s mounted high on the walls stays with me.
I have many memories of the moment and the horrible moments following. Like all Americans the images of those planes slamming into the Two Towers were seared into my mind’s eye. But what I remember most clearly was seeing the second plane hit and then the tears in The cute sales assistant's eyes.
“What’s going on?” she asked.
“What’s going to happen?”
To this day I don’t have an answer.

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