Remembering September 11th

The World Trade Center, one of three sites on ...

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In September 2001, I was the General Manager for WXCT, an AM station in the Hartford, Connecticut market. The owner brokered the time on the station, meaning anyone could pay to have a show. There was one broker who was paying for a bulk of time, which was from 6am-6pm Monday through Saturday. He had defaulted on his payments so I terminated his contract the 1st of September. I decided to continue the format he was doing, which was hip hop/r n b. He had built up a decent following and had some advertisers. I took over the morning show responsibilities on an interim basis until I could find someone to do it. Yeah, hard to imagine me doing hip hop/r n b, but it was fun. I had a great Program Director (Rickie Ricardo) and Music Director (Jonathon Donker). They knew the music very well and programmed the station like we were in New York City. Jonathon actually lived in Brooklyn and would commute every other day to Southington, where the studio was located, to give us the music logs. We also aired news from Metro News at the top of the hour and traffic a couple times an hour during the morning show. We had a direct feed to the Metro News studios via an ISDN line.

I want to back up a little here too, just to give some background perspective. I had only started at WXCT in July 2001. At the time my wife and I had two children; my daughter would turn 4 on September 10 and my son was 2 and a half. When I took the job to manage the station, I moved to Connecticut ahead of them to find a place and get settled. They arrived in Connecticut at the beginning of September. My mom was living on Long Island, and upon my family’s arrival in Hartford, we drove down to see my mom to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. This was their first visit to New York City. And it was the weekend before the events that would change the New York City skyline forever. 

The morning of September 11, 2001, I was doing the morning show.  At the top of the 9am hour my news girl called in to do the news. Of course her lead story was that at 8:45am a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, but there were few details. We briefly discussed what the possibilities were, after all how can you accidentally crash into those buildings! But at first, that was the only theory available. While we were talking about the crash, unbeknownst to us, the second plane hit the other tower at 9:03am. Our newscast was five minutes long, and so at 9:05am she signed off and I started up another song. Just a couple minutes later, she called back and told me of the other crash. I interrupted the song and put her back on to update the listeners. At this point, we knew what had happened was not an accident, but did not have details of who or why. After her brief update, I went back into another song. I spoke with my news girl off the air and she offered us a direct feed to Fox News, which they had in their studio so we could monitor any breaking news about the story. 

Jonathon was scheduled to call in a review of the the Michael Jackson concert at Madison Square Garden he had attended the night before. He called in, but instead of talking about Michael Jackson, he was giving us a man-on-the-scene report of what he saw happening there in New York City.  We were the only station in Hartford that I know of that had someone in New York City, broadcasting live almost immediately after the crashes. I also called our Town Manager in Southington and put him on the air to ask about emergency preparedness. He basically told us to stay calm and wait for further instruction, should there be any. One of my dj’s, Saracita, brought a small TV from home so we could monitor the major networks for any breaking news. The whole morning was surreal. Southington is only a couple hours from New York City, and having learned the crashes were terrorist attacks was disconcerting. We spent the rest of the day glued to the TV watching the towers fall, the replays of the events captured and wondering what the future held for our Country. 

I don’t personally know anyone who lost their lives on September 11th, but working in radio we as an industry did lose several colleagues who were manning their stations in the World Trade Center, as it housed many radio and television towers atop the buildings. Our prayers are with all of those who lost someone due to the tragic events that changed the United States of America and the World. Our thanks to those First Responders were on the scene helping and sacrificing their safety during such a chaotic time.

We will remember, forever.

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