Monday, September 11, 2006



The blogosphere is inundated today with "Where were you when..." stories. I was living in Atlanta at the time, but was travelling in South Carolina on September 11. I had just checked out of my hotel and took a peek at the television in the lobby, where there were early reports of a plane hitting Tower One. My mind immediately flashed to the B-25 bomber that hit the Empire State Building over 60 years ago, so I thought little of it and headed to my car for a meeting at 9am. Fifteen minutes later I was getting ready to get out of my car and head for my meeting when reports of a second plane crash had occured. Unfortunately, I had to get to my meeting so I was left with little further information for about an hour. I'm trying to concentrate during the meeting but it was next to impossible. I couldn't believe that we're having this mundane meeting when the world was ending outside. I finally got a break and gave a call to a friend of mine who works in the Washington area for the government and she told me that she was fine but that her building had been evacuated. I then called my wife, who proceeded to tell me that the south tower had fallen. I asked her what that meant. I couldn't comprehend in my mind's eye what that looked like. Did it tip over like a tree? Did it implode like a demolished building? I just couldn't wrap my head around it. It wasn't until sometime around 12:30 that I was able to get to a television and see for myself exactly what had happened. Given my work, I was not able to experience the day as so many others had. Until today.
For those of you who don't know, Howard Stern is now on satellite radio. I'm huge fan of satellite radio (I own both XM and Sirius) as I'm able to drive for hours and never lose a signal. It's excellent technology that I cannot recommend enough. A couple of days ago, it was decided that Howard would replay his September 11, 2001 show starting at the time when the first plane hit during today's broadcast until his show ended several hours later. Two words: brilliant decision. This broadcast was a time capsule. It was real time and the reactions by Howard and the various personalities that surround him were completely raw. This broadcast was a snapshot of the world that day. I was watching my clock as they were talking, knowing what was coming before it happened. They heard the initial reports about the north tower being hit and you could tell that they didn't think all that much of it as the then continued their conversation of how Howard had flirted and kissed with Pam Anderson. But when the second tower was hit, you could just feel the chaos in the air. No one really knew what was happening. The misinformation was also staggering. At one point, it was reported that the Washington Mall was on fire and the Capitol Building had been bombed and that there were ground operatives planting explosives all over the place. Then there were reports that a second plane had crashed into the south tower and that is what caused the tower to fall. There were reports of another plane being hijacked out of Pittsburgh that I hadn't heard about. Another report surfaced that Palestine had taken responsibility for the attack. I had never heard any of this because I was working. It was just stunning to experience it for myself since I wasn't able to do so five years ago.
There were times throughout the broadcast when Howard wondered why they were still on the air, but his program manager and the callers assured him that he was providing an invaluable service as he could filter and digest the news that they were watching, and he also had "feet on the ground," as one of his regulars, Crazy Cabbie, was on his rooftop in Brooklyn and watched the entire thing unfold. Other regulars and random callers were able to give their own perspective and when these reports were coalesced with the news reports, a clearer picture was being presented than what the television media was giving. Interspersed throughout were inane jingoistic "let's nuke them all" calls, but overall, it was just an amazing window into a day that I was finally able to sort of experience for myself. Some of you might remember how the entertainment industry basically shut down for a week after 9/11. Howard never did. Not only did he stay on the air throughout the day on 9/11 (it holds the record as his longest broadcast ever), but he was there the next day, taking phone calls and talking to people and collectively helping his listeners through a mind-boggling event. Oh, and I'm sure he had some dick and fart jokes thrown in there just for laughs. Thank you, Howard.

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