9/11: Words that appeared on HalEisner.com 10 Years AgoSeptember 11, 2011
When the 9/11 attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. occurred the cyber world was a different place. It was 2001. HalEisner.com was relatively new. MySpace and Facebook had not yet been born! MySpace launched in 2003. Facebook started in 2004. Since this website was designed as a place for people to share thoughts and write articles it many took the time to reflect on 9/11. People who were in New York and others who were in broadcasting. What follows are those words from a decade ago. Hal
Moments Frozen in time By Erin Kaplan Freshman, Marymount Manhattan College NY “I felt numb…very unsafe!” One week prior to that horrible day, I had moved to New York from California. Tuesday started out like any other day: I went to class at 8:30 and after I proceeded to walk home to my apartment. I met my roommates in the elevator and they then informed me that two airplanes had crashed into the World Trade Center. They then informed me that it was the act of terrorists who hijacked two commercial planes. I immediately ran up to my room where I could see the World Trade Center from my window. Huge clouds of black and gray smoke filled the air, and the World Trade Center was no longer visible. My apartment did not have television yet, so I ran to my friend Mike’s room to see if he wanted to go down there. Walking to the accident we had no idea of the severity of the crashes. They had shut down the streets, the taxi’s, buses, and subways were also shut down. Everybody was walking extremely fast, trying to escape the city. People were screaming and crying on the streets, but mostly people were in complete shock. As we walked, a plane flew overhead and everybody proceeded to run for cover. That’s precisely when I knew that this was bigger than anyone could ever imagine. When Mike and I arrived at the scene, there were hundreds of police and they were not about to let us anywhere near the scene. We just stood there in shock staring at the huge clouds of smoke. No one said anything and we started on our way back home. At my apartment, security tried to keep us indoors to ensure our safety. The next night, because of the wind my roommate and I started smelling the smoke from our room. Our room quickly started filing up with the horrible smell so we evacuated to downstairs. The days following were just as horrible. Several floors of the building left to go home in fear of their safety and the sounds of people crying lasted for days. Since the accident, countless “missing person” posters decorate the city as well as numerous American Flags. I doubt that New York City as well as the rest of the world will ever be the same. While Mike and I were roaming ground zero just hours after the attack, I felt numb. Usually I watch visions of attacks on the news and it seems so far away and that nothing like that could ever happen to me. There I was, standing in front of the World Trade Center watching it go up in smoke, and for once it felt real. It hit close to home and suddenly I felt very unsafe. This wasn’t happening in some far off country, it was right in front of me. The people around were silent, some were frantically trying to make calls on their cell phones to worried family members. The police stood guard, also silent and in shock. Any sound from a plane up above would interrupt peoples thoughts and they would literally run to try and get cover. We didn’t know if and when the next attack would happen, and if the plane that flew overhead would come crashing down. Now when I look back on these pictures it makes me feel sick. I still feel the fear and the worry I did that day when Mike and I went down there. I still think about the people on the street trying to reach their loved one’s and the families that won’t ever be the same.
Michael Nicholson Sophomore, Marymount Manhattan College, NY “I have never been so scared in my life.” As we all know by now the World Trade Center was bombed at 8:50am. I was sitting in the library of Marymount Manhattan College, located on East 71St. between 2nd and 3rd Ave., working on some of my homework. At 9am my cellphone made a noise as it lost service. Someone ran in and told us that one of the trade towers had been hit by a plane. I quickly found a TV — the second building was hit. I ran back to the dorm — by the time I got there Building One had collapsed. I ran to the roof, which is 46 stores high — I saw the second building and then, like the first, it collapsed. I can’t help but admit that I have never been so scared in my life. I had no idea if it was over or not. The radio was going wild as they were reporting that they were evacuating the Empire State Building, and all Federal Buildings. Everything south of Canal St. was shut down. Everything had become frantic. Cellphones would not work, TV was down, long distance lines were a mess. I couldn’t help but break down for a moment. Erin and I decided that we were going to take a look at how bad the situation was down there. We ended up walking the whole trip since none of the subways were working and most of the bus services had stopped because of all the confusion in traffic. Erin and I eventually made it down to Canal Street. You could see the black smoke that the buildings were producing, the whole two miles we walked. When we got there the smoke was making it hard to see other buildings. It was so black and thick. We decided that we would take some pictures. We couldn’t get to close without running the risk of being yelled at or something else by the many police, FBI, and Marshall’s office personnel that were working down there. When I was looking through the camera and taking the pictures, I guess I was looking past what I was seeing and tried to imagine what was going on for everyone in ground zero. I thought of all the documentaries, and movies that showed horrible scenes of people crying for help, because they couldn’t stand the pain. The many people running around trying to find their friends and loved ones that had become buried in the two huge piles where once stood the two greatest structures in America. But at the same time something in the back of my mind told me that this was going to be a moment in history, and I was here and alive as it was happening. I wanted to make sure that I would remember this day, and by taking the pictures I was guaranteeing myself those memories for a life time to come.
John Smith Sophomore, Marymount Manhattan College, NY “They collapsed right in front of me, thousands of people gone.” My mother woke me up with a phone call, telling me to turn on the TV: “any channel.” That was my first look, that was how I found out about it, and that was when it all changed. I watched for hours, it seemed like, though it could only have been a few minutes. They collapsed right in front of me, thousands of people gone. Here on Roosevelt Island we have a fine view of most of Manhattan, including a fine view of the World Trade Center. Things were not the same, not this morning. All I could see of Lower Manhattan was a mass of white, blotting out the towers and everything else around that area. The subways had been shut down, but that was no problem for me. I hopped on my bike and crossed the Queensborough Bridge into Manhattan. Along the way down Broadway I stopped at a gift shop and purchased a cheap disposable camera, whereupon I took about 25 pictures in and around Lower Manhattan. Ash and concrete dust was everywhere, in every nook and cranny of every building within about a six to ten block radius around the Towers. You’ll hear over and over that it was like a warzone down there, and it truly was. Nothing can truly come close to the eerie chaos that had permeated this part of the city. People had dropped everything to rush away from the oncoming cloud of debris, and now they were gone, with nothing remaining but their papers, their many, many papers. Perhaps the worst part, the scariest part, was the quiet. It was all just so quiet, so empty, so white, so sad.
Bret Burkhart KGO Radio San Francisco Unbelievable. I never thought there would be a day when I’d be looking over my shoulder looking for a mushroom cloud while rushing into the station. It was a doomsday scenario that had me reconsidering my priorities of the moment. Should I be rushing to work? Or should I be rushing home to pull my girls out of school? Driving over the bay bridge, I couldn’t help but stare at the San Francisco skyline wondering if the bay area was next. If it were any other story, I would say it was good radio. This was hardly fun. And it was impossible not to see it on the faces of commuters driving next to me on the bay bridge. Tuesday, September 11th was not a story. It was a public service and I really feel it redefined all of our commitments.
Ron Fineman Freelance Reporter KNX NewsRadio Los Angeles I covered a unity day at the Islamic Center in Claremont Sunday. It was good to see some men there in yarmulkes. Jews united with Moslems is always a hopeful sign. I did feel bad for those folks who’re targeted for harassment or violence just because of their background. I interviewed one young woman who is about to start Stanford. Since she wears a head scarf, which identifies her as a Moslem, she is afraid to fly. She’s worried about being detained, and she’s concerned that passengers will be afraid of her. I had to feel sympathy for people who risk being judged and harassed for the crazy actions of others.
Ryan Langelier Production Assistant KCOP-TV Los Angeles Working in news during the tragedy on September 11th made me search my mental environment and ask the question: Does the way we (the media) report this story, affect how Americans feel and remember this tragedy? Across the nation the TV is blaring a sensationalistic attack on America, in a special 24 hour report/ratings war. Has this horrible tragedy become a live mini-drama served to hungry voyeuristic Americans? The TV keep showing that explosion over and over and over on every channel until its not real anymore. I hope that we don’t get desensitized to all this because we have to recognize the reality and horror of this loss so somehow, someway we can keep it from ever happening again. Anywhere. My dream is the media will use its power to educate more and sell less.
Kent Ninomiya Anchor/Reporter KCOP TV Los Angeles I knew immediately the world would never be the same. This is a history changer… the kind of story that only comes once. After 14 years in television I am numb to just about anything considered shocking to normal people. This incident shook me to my core. The gravity and magnitude of what happened is literally beyond our comprehension. Never again will Americans feel safe in their homes, never again will we take safe travel for granted, never again will we feel invincible. As a child I thought wars were a thing of the past. Children today consider it inevitable. The moment I learned about the attacks I knew we were going to war. The world will never be the same.
Adrienne Abbott Assignment Editor KOLO-TV Reno, Nevada One of my recurring thoughts has been the resemblance of these incidents to the Kennedy assassination–a paralyzed nation, the constant news coverage, the constant replaying of the attacks, the uncertain future, the defining moment of a generation. If the Kennedy assassination represents the “loss of innocence” for our generation, than this terrorist attack marks the “loss of innocence” for our children’s generation. It will become one of those “where were you when—-” moments in history.
Tommy Bravo Photographer KNBC-TV Los Angeles It really didn’t sink in until the day after. I was just driving and listening to the radio. It was all natural sound pops of people talking about their dead relatives and people crying. And, then I just sort of choked up and started crying myself.
David Dow CBS News Correspondent Los Angeles I think I’ll spend the rest of my life wondering at the enormity of this and never quite grasping it. I’ve covered a lot of natural disasters, Mount St. Helens and so forth, and been awed by the force of nature. And, now we’re left to ponder the awesome force of evil.
Denny Macko Photographer KCOP-TV Los Angeles It was obviously incredibly impactful seeing the second plane hit the towers on television, but my anxiety was heightened seeing one of the world’s largest airports – LAX – empty of passengers and full of police.
|NOTE FROM HAL: Bruce Brodoff, a former KCOP-TV field producer/researcher, is currently the Vice President of Public Affairs and Corporate Communications for the New York City Economic Development Corporation. His office is located three blocks from the World Trade Center at 110 William Street between Fulton and John Streets. I’ve known Bruce for years and tried reaching him for hours after the World Trade Center attacks. It wasn’t until Wednesday night that I got a series of emails from him detailing his ordeal. With his permission here’s Bruce’s story as shared with me in a series of emails.|
Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2001 7:24PM I am shaken but OK. Thank God I left my house early to vote in New York’s Mayoral primary and got to my office 30 minutes before I usually do — otherwise I would have been walking past the World Trade Center around the time the first plane struck. I even stopped to buy fruit at the Farmers Market that operates at the foot of the south building every Tuesday and Thursday. I can’t describe what it was like to stand on the street and watch the North tower burn. Thank God I didn’t see anyone jumping to their death like some of my colleagues did. While the sight was horrific I never imagined that it would escalate to such a catastrophic degree. It was just like a bad fire that would take a few hours to get under control. I even went back up to my office to gather my things and use the bathroom. Once there I stopped to watch the news coverage on TV and saw another large explosion. I heard an enormous boom and my building shook. That’s when I really started to get scared. I ran past a large window on my way out of our sixth floor office and saw that within a few seconds the once sunny sky turned black, with white flakes swirling around. I ran down the stairs and encountered a heavy smoke condition; that’s when it hit me that I may not get out of this alive. On the ground floor the smoked-out lobby was packed with about a 100 panicked people, all gasping and freaking out. One of the doors leading out of the building — the one most considered the safest exit, was reportedly locked, which just increased the panic. Surgical filters were being passed out, and I wrapped a handkerchief around my nose and mouth. The door was finally opened, and people started streaming out into the nuclear winter. Some, myself included, didn’t know whether to stay in the building or go into the street; nowhere felt safe. I decided to hit the street and follow the crowd. Through the black smoke another jet plane screamed overhead — didn’t know if it was a USAF plane patrolling our skies, or another jet about to nosedive into the financial district. Things were unbelievably tense. The air quality got a lot better after about a 15 minute walk north towards the Manhattan Bridge, but despite the rumors still didn’t believe that the tower collapsed. A few minutes later came the rumor that the other one fell as well. Walked over the Manhattan Bridge into Brooklyn and spent the next 2.5 hours trekking to my parents house. My apartment complex in Battery Park City was singled out by the New York Times as having been trashed with building, airplane and crushed auto debris and jet fuel. It was evacuated. Don’t know if I’m ever going back. I did know or know of several people killed, like the three top Fire Dept. officials and the head of the Port Authority. I interviewed with the PA a few years ago at their 68th Floor complex, and was back in touch with them recently to see about possible employment opportunities. I was really interested in getting involved with what they do and working in an office across the street from my house that had a to-die-for view. I’m glad the interview never went past the exploratory stage. Wednesday, September 13, 2001 6:01AM On reflection, two other aspects of the disaster One: Despite being the middle of a mass exodus with thousands of people — I felt utterly alone during the first hour of walking to Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, where my parents live. Was Separated from colleagues, nowhere near my family and friends, had no cell phone, no access to pay phones, with black smoke filling the sky and dreadful thoughts that that some other awful things may yet occur filling my mind. Most people were quiet while walking over the Manhattan Bridge, even people walking with co-workers or friends, internalizing their fear and thoughts. Only after reaching relative safety in Brooklyn did people start to come back to themselves (a lot of people, myself included, were not sure they wanted to walk across the bridge, fearing a collapse from the weight or a possible explosion or attack….) On the Brooklyn side merchants were handing out bottled water, a church set up a water station, and some drivers and commuter vans were offering free rides to people on the street… The other thing was how confused people were about how to get to their ultimate destination, or even where to go. For people who wanted to get home to Long Island, did they try to walk to Penn Station in Manhattan, or walk to Brooklyn’s Atlantic Avenue Long Island Railroad station to see if service is available from there. For people who lived in the Bronx or Queens -keep walking north in Manhattan, or go to Brooklyn? Are the subways running? What about busses? Is it true the bridges and tunnels have all been closed? I personally must have changed my mind and direction 3-4 times in 10 minutes during the first 20 minutes of the northward exodus. First thought about going over the Brooklyn Bridge and walking to my parents, but pressed on, thinking I’ll go to my brother’s apartment on 14th Street and 5th Avenue. A few minutes later, as the streets around Chinatown became more crowded and frantic with civilians, emergency personnel, and vehicles, I turned around and started walking back to the Brooklyn Bridge. After a minute or two of backtracking I stopped again and turned around and headed back north to my brother. Walked a block or two north of the Manhattan Bridge, then just stopped in utter confusion. Will the crowds of panicked people and emergency vehicles start to thin out the further north you went, or just increase? Should I walk over the Manhattan Bridge, or is it vulnerable to collapse or attack? For several minutes I just STOOD there, not knowing what to do. I finally decided to get the hell off the island and go to the relative safety of my parents house on the south Brooklyn shore, near the ocean, where the sky is usually a clear, wide expanse with air that tastes a little moist and salty, not gritty and acrid….
Nightmare in New York By Michael Wilk There is a card in the Tarot deck called “The Tower”, in which a bolt of lightning strikes a tower, and people fall from it . The symbolic meaning of this card is self-explanatory: disaster, pandemonium, destruction. Well, the real thing happened yesterday here in New York City. Two hijacked airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center, killing everyone on board the planes, and killing several hundred, possibly thousands, and injuring several hundred more in the buildings and on the ground. When a co-worker told me about the first crash, that “a plane crashed into the World Trade Center”, I didn’t know that it was a huge 767 airplane. And then, minutes later, upon hearing that a second 767 plane crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, the word “terrorism” immediately flashed into my head. Could this really be happening? I used to wonder what it must have been like for people in London during the blitz, and now I know. While I don’t work in the financial district, where this terrible tragedy took place, I work about 60 blocks away in Midtown, where I could see the billowing brownish black smoke emanating from where the decimated World Trade Center once stood. My place of business , the James A. Farley Building, which is the main post office in Manhattan, was evacuated, and I started my long trek home to Queens on foot. There was no subway service, very limited bus service, and I joined the mass exodus across the 59th Street Bridge to Queens. Apart from the sounds of radios and portable TVs, everyone was gravely quiet in their silent march away from Manhattan. Every once in a while, I would glance towards the disaster site, and kept thinking, “This is a nightmare. I can’t believe this is happening.” Open-backed trucks were transporting people, like war refugees, across the bridge. I was fortunate enough to get a ride with some neighbors of mine who, in a rare coincidence, I bumped into on Queens Boulevard, miles away from home. They had managed to call a car service, and there was room for one more. When I arrived home, I received several telephone calls from my sister, my niece, and friends, calling to ask me if I was all right. My television set was on, I watched the videotapes of the World Trade Center collapsing, and people running for their lives. I felt violated, horrified, and, probably most of all, angry. I watched videotapes of jubilant Palestinians dancing in the streets, flashing the “victory” symbol, and became furious. Is this what they want? Will they finally be happy? Will their quality of life be any better, now that several hundred, probably thousands, of people have been killed? Will their economy improve? Will this make Allah happy? Shock, sadness and anger-those are the three things that I feel as I am writing this. Shock for this sudden, ferocious act of terror, sadness for all of those killed and injured, their families, and intense anger at the viciousness and lack of remorse behind this horrible act. I, for one, feel that there is no where you can hide from evil. It has spread like cancer throughout the world, and I, as I’m sure many others do, do not feel safe. Death could be just around the corner. It can strike from land, by sea, and by air, anytime, anywhere. Michael Wilk is a 44 year old graphic artist, and is employed by the United States Postal Service in Manhattan, where he has worked for the past 22 years. He lives in Howard Beach, Queens, approximately 5 minutes away from JFK Airport.
A Rude awakening By Veronica Villafane I woke to the sound of my persistent pager. I never got the wake up call I requested at the hotel, after a late check in a the hotel, In Nashville. It was my sister, in Los Angeles. As I called her, I turned on the TV. I could not believe what I was watching! The images of a plane crashing into the WTC. At first, I was in disbelief, then shock, then panic. I have a sister in NY who works for a foreign bank in the financial district. Since it’s a relatively new job, I didn’t know if she worked in the WTC or nearby. We tried to call her, but only busy signals… When we finally learned everyone was ok (I have another sister in the DC area), we sighed with relief and called mom, who was worried sick about all of us, since she knew I was traveling. Then, it was back to watching those horrible images of the trade center collapsing. I was in Nashville to attend the RTNDA convention. I had arrived early, to be in the RTNDA board meeting. It was decided right away to cancel the convention, under these tragic circumstances. We were all in shock… and we felt so impotent, watching the terrible images of destruction. “It is overwhelming,” said Janice Gin, Associate News Director at KTVU, the Fox station in San Francisco. “It’s a great sense of helplessness when you’re not at your home station watching a national tragedy unfold and it is distressing when you want to be there and you cannot.” We all wanted to go home right away. Many people on the board scrambled to get rental cars due to the airport closures. CNN radio president, Robert Garcia, drove to Nashville, so he was able to return to Atlanta almost right away. A few were able to rent cars. The rest of us were hopeful the airports would reopen. When they didn’t, we all made arrangements to drive. I was able to hitch a ride with Howard Kirsch, one of the RTNDA exhibitors, who had rented a car and Janice Gin. We drove 17 hours, non-stop. It was surreal. The terrorist attack was the main topic of conversation. We made it to Albuquerque, where we were all able to purchase tickets to fly to Phoenix, but there was no guarantee we could arrive our final destinations: L.A. and San Francisco. In Albuquerque, the airport was eerie… almost deserted. All the major airlines had their flights still cancelled. We had our luggage opened and inspected. Nobody had a problem with that. I think many of us were thinking stricter measures should have been implemented sooner and maybe this tragedy would not have happened. We were lucky and finally were able to get home. My flight was the first one to land in Burbank at 10:30 pm. I saw a lady on the plane as we were waiting for the door to the plane to open who had a sweater that said “Home, sweet home,” and I kept thinking that’s exactly how I feel…relief to be home.
Adam P. Bradshaw News Director KTVX-TV Salt Lake City, Utah Like many News Directors, I spent Monday night packing for a trip to Nashville for the RTNDA Convention. Up at 6am (MT) on Tuesday … I was headed to the Salt Lake City airport to catch my 830am flight to Music City. About five minutes into my journey there was a bulletin on the radio saying a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. “Oh great…I’m flying today and I have to hear about a plane crash.” Having been a passenger on the Southwest Flight last summer, where a fellow passenger went crazy and had to be wrestled to his death by other passengers, I am a bit skittish about flying anyhow. My journey continued towards my office at KTVX (like most news folks..too cheap to park at the airport, so I was leaving my car at the station) just as I exited the freeway another bulletin…another plane hits the World Trade Center. Say What?????? A huge commercial airliner into the World Trade Center just 20 minutes after another plane hit the building. At this point chills went up my back… “Holy S–t… this is terrorism” In the next 30 minutes I managed to alert my GM, cancel my travel plans to Nashville, and help my desk guys track down every employee who works for KTVX. We were reacting…quickly…logically…and completely…yet at the same time we could not tear ourselves away from what seemed like a Schwartzenegger film on steroids. No matter how many times we saw it… that plane hitting the World Trade Center was something our minds could not comprehend. We quickly pulled the troops together and plotted our mission. Let ABC cover the national story… we must hear from our viewers…the citizens of Utah … we must feel their pain… show their disbelief…and reassure them that the next plane is not going down in the host city of the 2002 Winter Games. We did cut ins throughout the day… commercial free hours of local coverage… and gave them every angle we could think of. We followed up Tuesday with a more fatigued but excellent coverage day on Wednesday. We planned to continue extensive coverage Thursday…but also saw it as a day to give some of our weary folks a little break. At 3:30am…Amtrak’s California Zephyr, filled beyond its capacity with stranded airline passengers, left Salt Lake City. At 5:55am, Amtrak’s California Zephyr slammed into a freight train 120 miles West of Salt Lake City near Wendover Nevada. Its going to be one hell of a day.
Jon Beaupré ‘Sounds Good’ contributor on HalEisner.com Considering that I had been in the vicinity of the World Trade center barely 36 hours prior to the attacks, I was certainly shaken by what unfolded early Tuesday morning. In previous incarnations I had worked on the 76th Floor of 1 World Trade Center, and across the Westside Highway in the World Financial Center for a number of years. I am intimately familiar with every square foot of that neighborhood. My normal 2 hour morning show on Pacifica station KPFK stretched to nearly seven hours of continuous coverage that I anchored. We have a very small operation, but the staff pitched in like true pros. Folks from administration and subscriptions began monitoring wires, TV, radio, and internet reports, along with our staff producers and fed me a steady stream of copy. We alternated between our network coverage from Washington (Pacifica Network News), the Associated Press coverage and the calls we were able to place to contacts in both New York and Washington, DC. That became my primary job, working the phones while the rest of the staff worked wires, internet and broadcast media. When I reached someone who would speak with us, we were able to put them on the air with very little red tape. In this manner, we spoke to residents in the vicinity of the crashes (though one colleague on Murray St. just N. of the trade center was too shaken to go on the air) as well as a couple of contacts in Washington, DC, including the Bureau Chief of the Dallas Morning News. This was my first extended experience covering an all consuming story as an anchor. It was exhausting, but I was very, very proud of the information we passed on and the way in which we passed it.
Gary Daigneault Program/News Director KCDZ Radio Joshua Tree, California Like news operations around the country, Z107-7 news had to immediately go into overdrive to react to the breaking situation. There is no local television in our market and we are the only live news source for our 90,000 residents (including the 15,000 U.S. Marines of the nearby Twentynine Palms Marine Base. within 15 minutes after the second crash we had stopped our Adult Contemporary music format and shifted to all news. Using resources from the Associated Press and ABC News we were able to keep up with developments. We started getting school closures, event cancellations, and municipal information out to our listeners. We contacted area lawmakers for on-air comments. We took callers live on the air who had relatives and friends involved. I myself spent 8 straight hours behind the microphone anchoring the news being gathered by staff. Having our Disc Jockeys cross-trained in news really paid off in this emergency and made the transition smooth and professional. Our 4 part-time reporters all immediately reported for duty without being called. I am very proud of the entire staff of KCDZ for the thorough and professional manner in which we handled this tragedy. During this whole experience our automated competitors just played music and made little, if any, mention of the attacks. To encourage community unity and spirit we gave out 1,000 American flags and listeners were lined up for hours to get them! (we just happened to have them around for another promotion) Our listeners in Twentynine Palms, Yucca Valley, and Joshua Tree were glued to our station for the entire day. Even today, one day after, we are getting letters and calls thanking us and commending us for the quality of our coverage. Small town local radio again proved itself!!!
Jason Feinberg KEYE-TV Reporter Austin, Texas Living in Austin now, I had the unfortunate task of waking up my relatives and friends in LA. Mostly…Palos Verdes, Thousand Oaks, North Hollywood, and Manhattan Beach. Imagine someone calling you yelling “wake up! planes are flying into the World Trade Center” It may have happened to you, as it was so early on the West Coast. I told them to be careful, as LA would seem like a sensible target. At KEYE-TV, Our concern was The Capitol and Jenna Bush. She is in Austin attending UT. There was a slight concern, since George W. is from Texas and lived in Austin just a short time ago. The Capitol and the Airport Evacuation and the State Emergency Center became live truck destinations. I was at the Austin-Bergstrom Intl. Airport, but never went live. I’ll never forget the people I interviewed. Especially a young man from Boston who broke down suddenly as he told me his brother was a pilot for American, and flew out of Boston. I don’t know what happened, but my thoughts and prayers were with him.
Kitty Felde Radio Show Host KPCC Los Angeles My husband Tad Daley flew to New York Monday to speak at the United Nations this week. The phone rang at 6:30 AM. A mutual friend started babbling about “where was Tad?” and “World Trade Towers exploding” and I assumed she’d had too much to drink. I made calls to our news director and my talk producers. And then tried to get hold of my husband. I knew he was safe — it takes him forever to get adjusted to NY time and his hotel was on East 51st Street. But when the circuits finally cleared and his hotel room rang and rang, I had the slightest fear that maybe he’d wandered downtown to see for himself what was going on and was perhaps crushed by the rubble. He finally called back. He was fine. And I immediately started training KPCC’s newest reporter. I sent him out on the streets — without a tape recorder, without a cell phone (his had just been stolen), without a day of reporting experience. By the time I arrived at the station (about an hour away), we were in full battle mode. Every secretary and intern had been pressed into duty, watching the wires, monitoring the various networks, making local calls. Reporters were dispatched to LAX, downtown LA, and local churches to report the local angle. Our normal schedule was scrapped and we stayed with NPR’s network coverage. But our talk hosts Larry Mantle and myself joined our regular news anchors Steve Julian and John Rabe with local inserts. We’ve stayed with the coverage — and will continue to carry 24 hour a day coverage — through the weekend. During my mid-day shift, we talked to a child psychologist, someone from the City Elections division (the primary went on as planned…the city official called it a practical demonstration of our democracy in action), and to our reporters in the field — including my husband on the streets of New York. Tad was a pretty good reporter — lots of detail, news that beat the network, great ambient sound. Though it’s not often I’ve been called “darlin'” by a reporter. As a journalist, the truth is that this attack is unlike anything any of us have ever covered. But in many ways, it’s exactly the same kind of crises all of us have covered. I remember my former colleague Nick Roman’s reactions to covering the Cerritos air disaster. Frank Stoltze’s tales of covering the 92 riots. For me, this week reminds me of the Northridge quake. All of us were touched by the event — whether we lost our homes or just a few jars of pickle relish. We shared the same sense of shock, loss, sense of powerlessness, and the same need to DO something positive. I sense that same need now. That’s the reason blood banks are crowded. That’s the reason when we put out a call from a local nursing home for volunteers to sit with older people, the home was so overwhelmed with calls that they asked us to announce they had more than enough. These are indeed the best of times and the worst of times.
Amber Hall KMIR-TV Freelance Reporter Palm Springs, California I think the most accurate description about the attack is it is like a movie. Because the only place most Americans have seen that type of mass destruction is in a movie. It is very important that people get back into a routine as soon as possible, because the country must still move forward. Since Tuesday morning every ones life has been changed irrevocably and there is no way to go back. Thousands of lives have been lost, millions of stories will emerge from that, and the perception of safety in America will never be the same.
Bill Gephardt KUTV-TV Investigative/Consumer Reporter Salt Lake City, Utah I feel a lot different now than I did then: When the Los Angeles riots broke out and I hit the streets in a live truck working for KCAL. I talked to people who were looting. I interviewed innocent homeowners terrified by the anarchy. I even lost two back teeth when a group of thugs decided they didn’t like my presence. Through it all, I was exhilarated to be reporting. When the fires broke out in Agoura and moved on to Malibu and the Pacific, I found myself atop Sycamore Canyon. It was an amazing view, from where I could report for more than two hours, live, as the fire crept down the canyons and on top of homes. Then, the fire crept across me, our crew, and a Ventura Fire crew. We hunkered down, and it passed. We were smoky, wet, and scared. Through it all, I was exhilarated to be reporting. And, when the Northridge Quake hit, I was at first stationed at the epicenter, by the collapsed apartments. Through the week, I reported on the tragedy of loss, and the elation of the rescues. Through it all, I was exhilarated to be reporting. But, when the planes hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, I was stunned. As I now report from Salt Lake City on the affect on the coming Olympic games, I observe the new preparations and new federal money destined to Utah for the games. But I am not exhilarated. I remain stunned. I’m moody. I feel a little perplexed. I’m vulnerable. And I find that everyone I cover answers my questions, and amplifies my stories. But they, too, remain stunned, moody, perplexed and vulnerable. We’ve all changed. We’re not exhilarated.
Steve Kindred Anchor/Reporter KFWB News Radio Los Angeles Quakes, Floods,Drought,Riots,..Power Crisis,…now,..the Tuesday Terror. It was my first day back from vacation,..so much for a soft landing. A variety of feelings swept over me,..horror,anxiety,sadness,..dread,..despair, but as I’m sure was the case with my colleagues who had to tell this horrible story, there was no time for that. The training kicks in,…and off you go,..knowledge that I was performing a valuable public service,..providing vital, perhaps even life-saving information, was a great source off comfort, and a needed reminder that we got into this business for something more than following car chases or updating the latest on Anna Nicole Smith. It was a shining moment for all of the media that I observed this week,..my hats off to everyone.
Sam Louie KCOP-TV Reporter Los Angeles Tuesday, September 11th, 2001. It was clearly the biggest news event of my career, let alone my life. I was choked with emotion the entire day while trying to report on security at the Federal Building in Westwood (Headquarters of the Los Angeles FBI). In between my reports, I listened, watched, and grieved. Being so far away from the destruction, I probably had more time to absorb and think about these atrocities compared to reporters in New York. But by the end of the day I was exhausted. Physically I was fine, but emotionally I was spent. September 11th, 2001…a sad day for America, an even sadder day for mankind.
Kirk McLemore Photographer KCOP-TV Los Angeles Just working in the media you get caught up in the moment trying to cover it to the best of your ability and it’s usually not until the next day that you really have time to sit down and think what really happened. I think what really got to me the most was listening to an interview. It was with a woman talking on a cell phone with her husband on one of the planes that was being hijacked and saying that they were going to crash it into the ground. We all know what happened after that. Now, she’s faced with telling her children that Daddy’s not going to be here anymore, but that he’s in heaven. The kids seemed to understand at first and then one of them turned to their mom and asked if they can call their Dad on the cell phone in heaven. Her only reply was that heaven doesn’t have cell phones. I’m a parent. That hit home! How do you explain something like this to a kid?
Antonio Ogaz Freelance Photographer KCOP-TV Los Angeles Working these past few days on this unforgettable assignment and seeing how the nation has rallied together, I feel I’m playing a small part of that in capturing the reaction and the aftermath of this terrible tragedy.
Lance Orozco KOCE-TV/KCLU-FM “The Buzz” Contributor for HalEisner.com Huntington Beach, California It’s been a mentally, and physically exhausting week for all of us in broadcast journalism across the nation, but I can’t even imagine the trials our brothers, and sisters in the profession have been going through on the East Coast. I have to say that in this incredible emergency, I’m proud to see the amount of cooperation that’s occurring, with no questions asked. To see networks sharing tape, sharing resources to inform the public is wonderful. Here in Los Angeles, Clear Channel blew out hours on its music stations, turning them into all-news outlets during the critical hours. CBS pre-empted not just its normal programming, but put Dan Rather and company on TNN, VH1, and even MTV. And stations that days ago were complaining about revenues being off pre-empted everything from “Friends” to local newscasts, doing the right thing to keep the public informed. For once, many bean counters put their beans away, to see the big picture, and do the right thing!
Art Quezada Photographer KMEX-TV Los Angeles I guess I’ve never felt anything patriotic about this country until now. It kind of brings it out in you — you know?
Tuesday By Phil Shuman The radio alarm went off as usual. The words didn’t make sense at first – “evacuation” -“rescue crews at the pentagon” ” massive damage” “smoke rising into the air” “fire has broken out” . Oh, Ok I thought. A fire at the pentagon. Big story.. not earth shattering. Then the broadcast continued, “attacks on New York” ” plane crashes” . The next thought, a hope really, was that this was some sort of radio drama, fiction, another “war of the worlds ” then , almost reluctantly, a fraid of what I’d find.. I turned the TV on and of course the unimaginable became reality .. Then the next thought.. I’ve got to get into work. This is the dilemma of the newsperson – disaster strikes, you gotta go! Earthquake hits.. you’re on the way. Fires? same story. Family is left, quick good byes. Then you’re in the middle of the storm, but in this storm, in Los Angeles, a bit of a break & a bit of shelter in that we were 3000 miles away from the worst of it. For us, it was almost as if we were watching a disaster movie. But.. all the while.. in the back of our minds.. the fear that something would blow up here. After all, those planes were headed our way. What would happen next ? Where? How to react ? Where to go ? The morning lasted forever. It literally ticked by minute by minute. The pictures continued to be impossible to believe. In the newsroom.. there are TV monitors everywhere, assaulting the senses. It’s just too much. The second jet slams into the second tower.. over and over.. slow motion. Different angles. You have to finally just turn away or turn it off . How many times can we see that shot. idea of people jumping. That can’t be aired, shouldn’t be aired, but it is, just like the airplane crash, over and over. The buildings collapse one after the other. Like Vegas casino implosions, but here thousands were still inside . You can’t even comprehend what this must be like. How do you report on this? What can you say? Incredible video. Incredible shock. Ok, that’s in New York. Again, what about us here in Los Angeles. Disneyland ? Universal . LAX ? Would there be a target? Who to interview? where to start? We go to the airport.. deserted, surreal! It is literally empty.. something you’ve never seen before. The President, from Louisiana, on a TV in the deserted lounge. Looks and sounds presidential. We get back on the road, talk to one expert, then another. This one’s a former Navy Seal, this one’s an academic, this one’s knows about airport security. It’s not over one says, more attacks to come. It is over another says they took their best shot. . It’s a well-coordinated attack. There’s more to come, there isn’t more to come It’s a war, we’re at war, this is an act of war, everyone agrees on that. We’re at City Hall. The acting Mayor is speaking. Isn’t he like 20 something? Sounds good though, looks good. Calm. Reassuring. This will play well on TV. The police chief and the fire chief say they are on it, they have things under control. Just like in New York? Where’s Jimmy Hahn? In Washington? Ironic. Race back to the newsroom…. The car radio has no music to take a break. None. What time is it? What’s the deadline? When are we editing? Who’s going to be watching? What can we add ? What makes sense, informs, comforts ? The networks have taken over the airwaves, but we still have to produce a show. Then the pizza. It’s a sign.. you know it’s a crisis when the pizza shows up.. when the newsroom is in crisis mode and no one has time to stop or eat or breathe, someone always orders dozens of pizzas. Seems odd something like that would stick in your mind, but it does. It’s a symbol. You think back to the earthquakes, the big one in Northridge. The fires when Malibu exploded in flames. The riots after Simi Valley. . The Oklahoma City bombing. It’s another story, bigger than anything else, but it’s a story. You’re in a sense on autopilot, not stopping to feel. The facts come in, they change, the numbers of dead you don’t even want to think about. You move in a daze, the writing and editing gets done, but you’re in shock, thinking of the victims, watching other reporters do frantic live shot after frantic live shot under the worst possible conditions in New York City . In normal circumstances you’d be getting on a plane heading for trouble, but these of course are not normal circumstances, and won’t be for some time. So you watch and work from afar, wonder what’s next, and wish you could turn back the clock to Monday.
I Am A New Yorker By Nancy LeMay I am a New Yorker. I love my city the way one loves Home, that singular, unduplicatable place-of-origin, but there’s more. Knowing New York the way a native knows it is like knowing a big, strong, handsome and fascinating man- someone who has been everywhere, knows everyone. Someone whose company you never tire of, even though you may struggle sometimes to keep up your end of the conversation. New Yorkers get their strength from New York, and we liberally return it, both to our own city and to wherever we happen to be. I watched them build the World Trade Center. It took all of the years I was in high school and half the time I was in college before they finished the whole complex. (Sometimes we wondered if they ever would). When it was finished, my parents and I took in the view from the top. On a clear day you really can see forever, take my word for it. The architect is Japanese, Minoru Yamasaki; through the years as my knowledge of art history and architecture deepened, I came to see the Japanese qualities in the Towers. The spare and unadorned lobbies were soaring spaces of white marble, matte and polished stainless steel, and glass- acres of glass- which sucked in the light reflected off the vast concrete plaza outside. The lobbies made me feel different as I passed through them; you will forgive me if I can’t tell you just exactly how they made me feel different. This is The Day After. So far, I have not heard of any relative, friend, or friend-of- a- friend, who was hurt at WTC. And yet, I know every one of those people who have been lost. I stood on line with them at the candy store, I bought New York Lotto tickets from them- and they wished me good luck. I sat next to them on the E train, riding with them from Forest Hills to the last stop; 45 minutes on a good day. If you got a seat, you could get a lot of reading done on that trip. I watched their kids grow up. I secretly battled them for parking spaces. They took the Daily News off the top of the stack, and I took the next one. Our quarters made a cheery little sound as they clinked together in the change dish. On the north edge of the complex, on the Church Street side, there was a coffee place- the gourmet type where you pay $1.35 for a flavored coffee and you could get a Cranberry Orange Scone. They had tables outside, so you could sit and watch the folks dash to the subway, or back to their desks to trade commodities or check the exchange rate of the yen or the mark. I loved to sit there- they made delicious coffee- and watch the free New York show. This was a great delight to me. Today I see those same people dropping the paper coffee cups with a splash-their faces turning ash white as they ran for their lives. I see the beautiful white marble lobby burst as the Tower drops onto it. I know that they are busy today in Heaven.
I try not to think about the “What-If’s” Jocelyne Rohrback Webmaster, HalEisner.com
My World Trade Center ID Badge for the 2000 Election.
As Hal’s webmaster I have never contributed to the content as a writer, however as many others write out their personal experiences, I too feel the need to express a few thoughts about my connection to the World Trade Center. Fresh out of college, I jumped at the opportunity to work for the infamous Voter News Service, during the 2000 Presidential Election. Half the experience was traveling to Chicago and New York to work for the election….and to work at the World Trade Center seemed to me; an opportunity I could not pass up on.As California State Manager for the 2000 Election I worked on the 93rd Floor in Tower 2 of the World Trade Center. As I look at my WTC ID Badge now, I shudder at the thought of being there. Not many people know about the extensive background checks that one must endure to be provided with access to the non-tourist areas of the towers. “Tight security” doesn’t even begin to explain it. The badge system, implemented immediately after the first WTC bombing, was a safety precaution for those working in the building. All safety clearances had to be applied for 2 weeks in advance, and all employees that were granted a “swipe-card” had to use it just to get in the elevator doors. With all the security elements, I always felt safe, as many of the employees working in the WTC felt. As if the Election of 2000 was not memorable enough, now I have other memories to make that experience something NEVER to be forgotten. I have been trying not to think about the possibilities- the “what-if’s”- that many whom have close ties to the WTC must be thinking and feeling. I will never forget being inside that massive building, or its’ lightening-speed elevators. I will never forget the vertigo-inducing views from that awesome height, or the creepy swaying that the towers were so commonly known for doing. And I will never forget the victims whom have lost their lives in the disaster because I ate with them at the WTC food courts and I rode the subway home with them after a long day at the office…..I was, for a short time, one of them.