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Townsquare Media Shreveport Remembers 9/11

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Spencer Platt, Getty Images

The question “Where were you when the planes hit?” has become synonymous with the World Trade Center attack on September 11, 2001. It’s a way to share stories from that fateful day. It’s how we comfort each other in the days, months and years since the tragic event. It’s how we remember.

The staff at Townsquare Media Shreveport remember those innocent people who lost their lives on 9/11 the best way we know: by sharing our personal memories.

I was on vacation that week and had set aside a couple of days to have a new floor installed in my kitchen and dining room. The two workers had just started pulling up the old floor when the first plane hit. You’ll recall at first it was reported as an airline crash, but when the second plane hit everyone knew it was a planned attack. The guys working on the floor stopped and the three of us sat in a row on my sofa, stunned and horrified at those unbelievable events.

– Robert J. Wright, 96.5 KVKI

I was walking across campus at University of Louisiana at Monroe. I was headed to my journalism class. I will never forget that the professor of future journalists would not allow us to watch the media coverage of what was at that point and remains to this point one of the biggest and most traumatic terrorist events of my generation.

– Tracy Turner, My Kiss Country 93.7

I was watching Katie Couric and Matt Lauer on the Today Show on NBC and their studio had windows behind them and all of a sudden this plane comes from out of nowhere and crashes into one of the World Trade Center towers. I thought maybe I didn’t see what I thought I saw and then the two anchors started talking about it saying, “A plane has just crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers.” At first they thought it was an isolated incident, and then after the second jet liner crashed into the other tower, they knew it was a terrorist attack. I remember thinking how unbelievable it was that America could be so vunerable to attacks from a third-world country. We were supposed to be far superior in military defense. How could this happen?

– Elaine Etheridge, 710 KEEL News

I was on my way to the radio station on the morning of 9/11. I stopped for gas and went in to pay. The folks working in the store had the television on and told me that terrorists had crashed commercial airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. After pumping my gas, I got into the car and turned on 710 KEEL to see what was going on.  As I drove and listened I became angry that anybody would attack us on our own soil. As time passed, I felt violated, sad and angry. I felt resentment towards the terrorists who had done this to us, and at the same time, felt a great love for our country and all of our people like I had never felt before. In a split second we had all become one.

– Danny Fox, 1130 The Tiger

I was right where I am right now! Everyone gathered in the kitchen to watch TV, and we were shocked to watch the second plane hit the towers.  Both of my daughters were in school in Lafayette. I wanted so bad to be with them, but was comforted to be here with my work family.  I remember being on I-220 and seeing Air Force One and fighter jets going in for a landing at Barksdale Air Force Base. Very surreal!

– Barbara Lebel, Townsquare Media Senior Regional Broadcast Market Consultant

I was on my way to school when it happened. I was in my car and must have been listening to my MP3 player or a CD because I didn’t hear it announced on the radio. Once I reached school and walked into class it was all over the TV’s. At first I was confused…movie day? Definitely was not movie day but one of the most awful things to have ever happened to this country. Once the shock of what I was watching full hit me I don’t think I spoke for a few hours.

– Jarrad McMillan, Account Executive

I was working as an investigator for the district attorney. I was getting ready for work that morning and listening to GMA on television in the other room. I heard Diane Sawyer and Charlie Gibson stop their broadcast and start talking about reports of a possible explosion or fire in one of the WT buildings. I went into the other room and watched the footage of the burning building.  Then the second building was hit and reports of other planes came in – it was clearly a terrorist attack.  I sat and watched the tv and cried. When I eventually went to work, we all huddled around the television in my office for most of the day. The courthouse was on security lockdown. Everyone was on edge.

– Melissa Johnson, Account Executive

I just got woke up that morning at my parents house in Bossier. I was visiting from Colorado at the time, went to get a cup of coffee in the kitchen and sat down in my mother’s recliner.  Before I could pull up on the recliner handle, Diane Sawyer and Charlie Gibson were saying ‘there was an explosion nearby…’ Then, mass chaos set in. It wasn’t long before they got a camera on the second plane right before it crashed into the second building of the WTC.  At that moment, the phone rang and it was my ex, a BCPD officer, telling me he had to go meet the President at Barksdale Air Force Base and escort him to an ‘undisclosed location.’  He told me to go pick the kids up from school. The schools were saying do not go pick up your kids from school, but I did anyway. That was the scariest feeling in the world. That feeling of pure doom and uncertainty.

– Teri Bates, Account Executive

I was working at National Mail-It in West Shreveport on September 11th, 2001, and I was on my way to work the morning I found out about the tragedy in New York and later the ones in Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon. Like a lot of other people were, I was in disbelief. Was it really happening? Was it a hoax? Just an accident? When I got to work, everyone was tuned in to the TV coverage and we all stayed that way for the rest of the day. We must have watched that plane crash into the World Trade Center about a thousand times before we heard what actually happened…a terrorist attack.

My co-workers and I prayed. We cried. I wrote poems and songs asking ‘Why.’ I was in a daze. Nobody could get any work done that day. People who had family up north were making phone calls. I didn’t know anybody who lived in any of the places that were attacked, but it was a devastating day for people all over the country and the world.

Later that week, I did something I hadn’t done for many years before: I went to church. I prayed for the families who lost loved ones. I prayed for those who were still missing loved ones. Most of all, I prayed for help, healing, and the punishment of those responsible.

– Angela Thomas, 710 KEEL

I woke up later in the morning. When I turned on the television, I stumbled upon one of the news channels and the first image I saw was the burning first tower. I wondered if some pilot had fallen asleep and crashed. It didn’t make much sense at first. When the second tower was hit, I recall thinking: ‘It seems like Pearl Harbor again. We’ll go to war. How many of us will be called to fight. I’ll go.’ I wondered if someone in politics or the military might step up as did Franklin Roosevelt and declare it another ‘day of infamy.’ No emotion I could muster could make an impact or turn back the clock. I watched, dumbfounded and prayed for a swift retribution.

– Howard Hart, 710 KEEL News

I walked into the radio station around 9:30am and saw everyone huddled around the glass window of the studio watching the news. Someone stopped me, knowing I was about to go on the air and told me the 2nd plane had just landed in one of the towers. I was confused and shocked. I hadn’t even been listening to the radio and had no idea what was going on. We weren’t playing music, and I walked in the studio and although it was my turn to be on the air, everyone on the air didn’t leave. It was me and someone else talking, describing the two towers  in smoke and describing the efforts of the people trying to get out of the building. Suddenly, the first tower fell. Never in my life did I ever think I would be at a loss for words. It was in that moment that I realized how difficult my job really is. I thought of those listening that were driving in their cars. How was I going to find the right words to adequately describe what just happened? I recorded my show that day. To this day, I haven’t listened to it. I can’t listen to it.

– All Brooks, K945

I was actually in the Kiss Country control room just after the first plane hit the tower.  I couldn’t believe that someone was so bad of a pilot that they’d run into a building.  Shortly after the second plane hit, I’ll never forget saying aloud ‘They’re doing that on purpose.’  Never would have occurred to me that America, but could suffering some sort of ‘terrorism.’  I also remember how America became so solidified.  So patriotic, so loving…because of such a terrible event.

– Gary McCoy, My Kiss Country 93.7

I was living in Los Angeles, and was still sleeping when my mom came in my room and woke me up. I wasn’t quite sure why she was waking me up for a few minutes until she called me into the living room and pointed at the television. I honestly thought I was looking at a commercial for a new movie coming out, but she said “look at what’s happening in New York!” It still didn’t hit me as to what was going on. I was an 11 year-old fifth grader at the time, so I only thought of that fiery scene I saw as something of my imagination. After I woke up, changed and went to school, everyone’s eyes were locked on the nearest television set they could find in the school. Everyone in the school was walking on pins and needles. Everyone was afraid to step outside, just about everyone in Los Angeles was afraid, we feared that an attack was heading to the West Coast next.

– Chris Dee, 1130 The Tiger

I’ll never forget that day.  I was sleeping in as I worked the afternoon shift at the stations.  My pager (yes we had pagers back then) began going off and requested I come to the studios ASAP I remember that drive to the studios so clearly. No one was on the road.  It had been right after the second plane hit.  I was immediately put to work upon my arrival as our sister station 710 KEEL was now on what we call ’round the clock’ coverage.  I found my way to a computer to see if I could pull audio/video and get accurate reports of exactly how many people were on those flights and in the buildings…a death counter and fact checker if you will.  We absolutely had to verify, in as many ways as possible, the information we were getting before we reported it to the public.  Then we found out the President was to land here at Barksdale Air Force Base.  I had never been so proud and so nervous.

– Troy Jones, Director of Engineering and IT

I was in Topeka, KS, at the Tire Rack SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) Solo Nationals.  9/11 was the first day of competition and we had already started running cars when information began to trickle in to the event side.  Since we were on Forbes Field, which is an active Kansas National Guard base, we had to get off quickly, which we did.  Somehow we managed to get nearly 1200 drivers, their cars and trailers, their equipment, and everything else associated with the event off the base in just 45 minutes!  I saw, that morning, one of the most amazing displays of cooperation and organization that I’ve ever seen.  We were finally able to resume competition Thursday morning — but we were only allowed to use one of the courses.  So, instead of each driver getting three runs on each of two courses, we all got three runs on only one course and were able to compress the four-day event into two days.

John Lee, 710 KEEL News

When the events of 9/11 unfolded I was in the Kiss Country 93.7 studios producing the morning show and giving live traffic updates.  The building was sort of empty that day, many of our senior broadcasters were on vacation and we had sort of a skeleton crew on the air that day.  There are six radio stations in the building and when the first plane hit the word spread in the building. We all tuned in on TV, but we had no idea it would unfold the way it did.  As I watched the second plane hit, it became obvious that all the other stories in the world would take a back seat.  Explaining what we were seeing to the listening audience was an awkward experience.  Very quickly, calls started coming in to the station with different information. We couldn’t confirm anything and many of the early reports were bogus.  Rumor and speculation took hold over fact gathering and accurate information.  Personally, I was in shock, but I had a job to do and had to remain calm on the air.  As a young broadcaster, I got a crash course in ‘breaking news.’  The things we didn’t report were just as important as the things we did report that morning.  You could hear panic and hysteria in the voices of our callers.  I specifically remember a caller saying that she heard there was a bomb at the Courthouse in downtown Shreveport.  Of course, there wasn’t. I remember thinking, ‘I can’t go on the air with that, it’s gonna freak people out and it may not be true.  Just stick to what you know is true.’  I definitely felt a responsibility that day to not sound panicked on the air, even though I felt panicked and helpless inside as I am sure many people did.

Chris Evans, My Kiss Country 93.7

When the tragedy of September 11 happened, I was living in Dallas, Texas at the time. I was driving in on I35 where I just left my boyfriend who was heading to the airport for his scheduled trip for the next couple of days — he was an American Airlines 767 pilot.

I was driving and listening to the radio and then my cell rang. It was mom. ‘Your dad and I think you need to come home,’ she said. ‘Air Force One just landed at Barksdale with two fighter jets in front of it and two behind it. Your dad said this is an attack, not an accident and I would prefer you here.’

It was hard to tell your mom that if something really bad was going to happen, I wouldn’t have time to make it.   So I went and picked up two of my Shreveport friends in Dallas and we went to a local restaurant where we could sit and watch it all unfold.

We kept getting updates via Mom — AFO took off going west and then about an hour later the news said Bush was at Barksdale.  When they talked about Barksdale on National news, I felt so proud and the entire restaurant crowd cheered!

The rest of the day is kinda foggy. I don’t remember where we went or what we did. I just remember having an overwhelming amount of sadness.

– Casey Ryan, Director of Sales

I was working at a radio station in Springfield, MA in the traffic department. I was away from my husband and my family here in Shreveport.  Seeing that 2nd plane hit, I knew our world had changed forever!  Later knowing those planes had crossed the sky, leaving Boston, above my head was hard to believe.  Also knowing, after the fact, that the President had taken refuge at Barksdale Air Force Base was too much for me.  I didn’t cry till then.  Just the stress of being so far away from my loved ones was too much to bare.  I returned to Shreveport a few short months later.

– Traci Myers, Board Operator/Producer

I was working in the 2 Penn Plaza building on top of Penn Station in Manhattan. Watching it live, we didn’t know what was happening or what to expect. All cell phones were dead, all power was off and all communication was out. ‘Let’s get out of this building,’ we said. The streets were filled with people running, cars stopped, and people listening to the radio. Running past Grand Central Station and Central Park. We were stranded in Manhattan. No where to go. How do we get home? 9-11 will always have a special place in my heart from a personal experience. For those lives that were lost, those who experienced it firsthand and the heroes that risked everything. It was like watching, living, and being present in a movie scene. Feeling and being complete helpless. The weeks that followed were terrifying, lots of bomb threats, stranded in subway trains for hours, scary, humbling, yet hopeful. It took me several years to watch anything in regards to 9-11. And 11 years later I still can remember it as if it were yesterday. I still love New York City and I always will.

– Marissa Tavantana Diaz, Digital Sales Manager

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