Nine eleven is the day that the world changed. It seems that radio was a big support for many citizens of New York City, not just on – but especially right after September 11.
Anyone who’ve seen it live on TV (or in reality), can still picture the imagines of 9/11 in his or her mind -like it was yesterday. How did music stations and personality shows in The Big Apple sound during and after the attacks? Here’s how Z100 and other stations helped their listeners to get through this fateful day – showing radio’s impact and relevance in crisis situations.
Z100 Morning Show on 9/11
Elvis Duran & The Morning Show was doing small-talk when the first airplane hit the Twin Towers. When it became clear that a disaster was in progress, they dropped the regular format and relayed information from news sources. The morning team witnessed the second strike and collapse of the south tower from their New Jersey based studio (near the Hudson River, with the Twin Towers on the other side). Elvis and his team decided to evacuate, as it was not clear if more attacks would hit the city.
WHTZ supports WTC rescue teams
On the following day, Z100 asked listeners and companies to donate food and supplies, and offered help to bring these to the rescue teams across the river. But also in the days after 9/11, the tone of voice was different. “We’re a fun show and it was really rough to not be fun,” Elvis Duran admits to the New Jersey Herald. The first time they did joke on air was weeks after the attacks. “We all sort of turned to each other and were like: is it OK to laugh yet?”
Elvis Duran stays in radio
The team realized that they could help listeners forget about the tragedy, even if only for a moment. “It has made us understand the importance of radio.” Interestingly, in the days before 9/11, Elvis Duran was apparently thinking of leaving radio. He didn’t see the point anymore of always getting up early, just to “play the same songs over and over, making fun of celebrities; crank calling unsuspecting listeners. It seemed like such a pointless position in life”, he said to The Morning Mouth.
Radio’s strength: close to listeners
September 11th was a turning point. “We were all given a crash course on what radio is all about… and why it’s necessary.” The Z100 Morning Show not only assisted rescue teams to get food and supplies. They also helped people to get a ride home or just let their loved ones know that they were okay. “Even though we’re not tackling such challenging programming today, we now have proof that this one-on-one connection is a vital part of our listeners’ day.”
Proud of working in radio
In a video about radio in New York on 9/11, produced by Art Vuolo, Jr., Elvis Duran says: “we never really thought seriously about how we can change the world with our radio station, but we did – and it was just awesome! We still get email from people who say: we didn’t know how to get through this without Z100, and I’m thinking: without a radio station? It’s a radio station! It’s number 600 on your list of important things! I’m glad what I do for a living now. It makes me really proud to be working in this business.”
Art Vuolo’s 9/11 radio video
Other quotes from this aircheck video:
- Scott Shannon, WPLJ: “It was raw emotion… The most horrible sight of my life was watching that first building crumble to the ground. We also had calls from people who were inside the buildings and didn’t make it out. It’s the most memorable broadcast day of my life.”
- Mark Mason, 1010 WINS: “As hard as [presenters] tried to distance themselves from the news and not be the news, their emotions were really on their sleeves. That’s good radio. It’s natural.”
- Joey Reynolds, WOR: “Let us celebrate the great humanness of radio, which picks up the ball after television showed us where it was.”
- Richard Lamb, WCBS: “I really thought it was one of those Howard Stern listeners who called us up and faked us out.”
Howard Stern Show covering 9/11
Howard Stern was live on the air on the morning of September 11, 2001. They were talking about Pamela Anderson and pulling some jokes, when Stern reported the breaking news. From then on, the show was all about what happened at the World Trade Center and the other locations that were under attack. The result: compelling radio hours, which have been recorded and shared on YouTube. I have embedded one of the many videos – claimed to be the full and uncut version of Howard Stern’s 9/11 coverage.
Other 9/11 radio coverage airchecks
I couldn’t find complete radio airchecks of Z100 and other music stations in The Big Apple, that include 9/11 and the days after the attacks on New York City. If you have airchecks available or know where to find them, please get in touch – I’d love to post a selection or a montage of them here. But New York’s public radio station WNYC has collected news coverage from September 11, 2001 on this page. If you’d like to hear audio material from other stations, also outside New York, Radiotapes is a great resource.
9/11 New York radio memorials
Several radio stations in The Big Apple are remembering nine eleven today. Two of them are Z100 and WNYC. They have created separate web pages where you can find lots of content and audio. On the below Z100 page, Elvis Duran and other crew members and jocks talk about how they recall 9/11.