Visualising 9/11 Audio

Image from World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh

I remember what I was doing on 9/11. I was at work at Red Dragon FM in Cardiff. When the news started breaking we were in a state of disbelief. We broke format and started having regular news updates. We took off all production and changed the playlist to remove inappropriate songs.

Someone recently asked me for examples of any on air production or imaging that we ran during that period, and to be honest, I have no recollection of us doing anything specific. I think we stripped everything back and felt our way through it. In the US, stations ran powerful montages. For us, it was their story – which involved us.

The same thing happened during the London bombings, whilst at Capital FM. We broke format, becoming a rolling news station – along with the other stations coming out of Leicester Square. I can’t recall us running anything in terms of production. Why would we – the emotional shock was so raw.

Today, I came across this very powerful visualisation from the New York Times – combing a large number of recordings from the day – from Flight Controllers, to the military, to someone who was on one of the planes. It plays alongside an animated timeline and transcript of the audio. I think this is a very powerful way of telling the story. No visuals are needed – it’s simply the power of words.

You might also be interested to see this video with Lee Harris of 1010WINS in New York City, who was on air at the time the planes hit the Twin Towers. Skip to 3:51 in to find it..

This is also worth a read – from the producer in charge if scheduling the music at BBC Radio 1 on the day of the attacks:
http://missingparsons.com/2011/09/soundtracking-911/

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