Joy FM Staff Recall 911 In Their Own Words
On this tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks on our country the staff of 96.1 Joy FM share their memories of that day that no American should ever forget.
I was just wrapping up what I thought at the time was an “uneventful” morning show on 96.1 WJYE…when Cheryl Hagen called to tell me that a plane had just hit one of the Twin Towers in NYC.
I aired the story on WJYE saying that we would have further details as they became available. I remember thinking that this must have been a small plane, used for something like “sightseeing” in NYC. I went in and told our VP Jeff Silver who was meeting with our Programming Consultant Gary Berkowitz. As I returned to the studio we received a bulletin that a second plane had hit the other Tower, this time we had more details because it had been caught on film. We all immediately knew this was no accident. At the time of the attacks we were owned by CBS, which was based in NYC, so I immediately called and received permission to rebroadcast our NYC news station on WJYE, so we could hear what was happening, first hand.
I stayed on the air throughout the remainder of the morning and early into the afternoon providing updates, and a local sense of what the tragedy meant to Buffalonians.
That evening Gary Berkowitz who was visiting from Detroit and I went to dinner at the Park Lane. There was no one there. There were waiters and a hostess and a chef, but no patrons…everyone was home glued to their TVs and radios.
I still remember waiting, as I was driving back home to North Tonawanda that night, for the other shoe to drop. Another attack? I also remember the eerie silence of no planes in the air, no jets, no helicopters, no contrails.
I walked in the house and my wife and kids looked at me as if to say, is everything going to be alright? I told them what I knew, we watched the TV reports, but even in the sadness, and horror of the day, we were comforted in all being there together.
I had just finished anchoring the 8:30 news and was cleaning up my studio when I looked up at the television and saw the one of the Twin Towers on fire. I notified Joe and he got in the air. I watched the live coverage with other coworkers from that moment for the next few hours.
The video was overwhelming as what first appeared to be an accident suddenly became a terrorist attack. My eyes still tear up today when I think about it. Perhaps the most dramatic footage for me came when “The Today Show” aired live footage of troops of firefighters walking through the streets of Manhattan toward the Twin Towers, sirens screamed and chaos surrounded them. About ten minutes later, the first of the towers fell. The dust kicked up, people ran for cover. When the cameraman finally had another shot, it was of three, only three, firefighters walking out of a cloud of dust. Two of them turned and hugged each other, the third sat down on the curb with his head down and cried. I remember thinking, where are the rest of them? Then I realized, they were probably gone.
My father was a Buffalo firefighter for 32 years. It just hit so close to home. The rest of the day was surreal. It was my three-year-old daughter’s first day of school. (Preschool at 14 Holy Helpers in West Seneca.) We stopped at the church to say a prayer before dropping her off for the afternoon. We prayed at school too. My son was too young to understand, but we explained the basics to my daughter. She could tell we were upset.
Later that week, she drew a picture of a face with little dots on the cheeks. I asked her about it, she said she drew a girl who lost her mommy and daddy in the towers. The girl was crying.
It’s funny I can’t remember what happened yesterday, but I remember 9/11/2001 like it was yesterday. I had just come home from work. I was on my way to bed and thought I would watch the news before I end my day. Everything was LIVE !!! It was a little after 9am EST. A US jetliner had just flew into the WTC. I jumped up and ran into the living room to watch it on the bigger TV. I thought OMG, did the pilot have a heart attack, Did the engine stall out? As I sat there wondering, I saw another plane make what appeared to be a U turn and take out the second tower in the middle.
I screamed “OH MY GOD!!!!!!!”. I knew it was not an accident. I watched the horror unfold as people jumped to their death. Then the unthinkable happened. The first tower collapsed and I said , oh no the other one will fall next and it did. There was an interruption. Dan Rather announced a plane had just flew into the Pentagon and it was on fire. if that were not enough, it would continue to unfold with an unaccounted jet that crashed in Pennsylvania. God only knows the intended target. I have heard many different stories. Honestly, we will never know. Thank God we will never know. All air travel was suspended and every plane had to land immediately. That alone probably saved many more lives.
September 11 was a day that started off like any other day then quickly changed. I was living and working in Pittsburgh at the time when the news of the plane crashing into tower one happened. Like most people we initially thought it was an accident. Then everything changed.
I was programming a Pittsburgh radio station at the time and we immediately suspended normal programming and began feeding continuous information from Channel 4 in Pittsburgh. Then came word that a plane had gone down in Shanksville, Pa. and they could not account for all planes in the air at that time. So an evacuation of downtown Pittsburgh began.
My office was on the 21t floor of a downtown building, and it was surreal to look out the window and see cars streaming over all the bridges across the three rivers. It took several hours to empty out the downtown area.
I recall it was a beautiful September day, just like in New York City. I had the day off but my wife was working. My Dad had come over that morning to help me with a few house projects when suddenly the phone rang…my wife said I had better turn on the TV.
Needless to say that’s all we did for the rest of the day…and the next and the next.
We also did alot of praying…for those “who knew” and those “who were waiting with hope”.
Just writing this brings to mind and to my stomach the most sickening feeling I think I have ever had in my life…God bless the victims, their families and friends and this great land we call America…