On September 11, 2001, I had lived in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area for less than a month, and had been working at All News Channel for ten days. I worked nightside (2:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.), and generally did not wake up until 10:00 in the morning. But that Tuesday morning I needed to sort out the transfer of my car and renter's insurance, so I woke up earlier than usual, probably around 8:00.
By the time I turned on the television, both World Trade Center towers were on fire, both suffering catastrophic damage from the impacts of jumbo jets. My boss soon called, asking me if I knew what was happening. I explained I needed to take care of some business before I could join him at work, which was true. I saw the Pentagon news, and the collapse of the towers, before I left the apartment. What struck me while driving to the State Farm office was the absence of activity. The traffic seemed lighter than usual. The woman at the State Farm office seemed oblivious to events of the morning, even though she had a small television on her desk (unusual for 2001).
After securing my transfer of insurance, I drove straight to work for what would be a 14-hour day. A single fighter jet circled downtown Minneapolis, the skyline easily visible from my east-side route to work on University Ave. By that point in the morning, traditional radio formats had ceased. Music radio stations simulcasted news/talk stations. All News Channel operated on a news wheel template, like CNN Headline News. We only did live shows every four hours. Suddenly, this entity, a place where some people had worked for a decade or more, suddenly had to become a live, around-the-clock news source. What madness awaited! Because of the staff level, we could only manage a live 30-minute show each hour, no matter what news broke. Later in the day we scaled it back to a live shot every two hours. ANC didn't have live remote capability either, other than from a bureau in Washington, D.C. A New York reporter fed us look-lives. We still ran the per inquiry commercials. Sonic Ears? You bet! I spent the first few hours simply writing scripts, then one of the many managers put me in the control room for each show in the early afternoon and for the rest of the night. I feel terrible if you depended on All News Channel for any news coverage of September 11, 2001.
Of course, by the time I had gotten to work, the meat of the story had ended. I never got to see the fear-mongering, the panic, the aftermath of the other national news networks. I could only focus on the task of maintaining something resembling a news presence at All News Channel. At home my VCR recorded what should have been The Simpsons at 5:00 and 5:30 on WFTC. Instead, of course, I returned home at 2:00 in the morning to find an hour of FOX News Channel simulcasted on FOX 29. I kept it, a souvenir of that day.
The aftermath tumbled me farther down the rabbit hole than Alice could have imagined. I read conspiracy websites, anti-government forums, learned about Zionism, false flags, Bilderberg, Agenda 21, and a variety of other subjects most people never know. Despite the persuasive arguments of these sites and their writers, I concluded 19 people took control of four aircraft and crashed them into the two World Trade Center towers, The Pentagon, and an empty field in rural Pennsylvania, destination likely Washington. Only two things bothered me while working that day, and not the events one would expect from someone who read a lot of alternate viewpoints. I wondered how the government publicized the names of the hijackers so quickly, just a few hours after the first crash ("Wow, they got that information to us in a hurry," I said while at work). I also wondered about the destruction of other, smaller WTC buildings, which the media repeatedly stated as collapses caused by falling debris. I never wondered why the WTC towers collapsed; I assumed the fire had weakened the structure. I never wondered why President Bush continued to read to children. I assumed his staff had no reason to believe he was in danger.
Even though I was 24 at the time, ripe for conscription, I never feared going to war. I never feared terrorism before, and did nor fear it after that day. The world can be a bad neighborhood, and sometimes bad things happen. I feared the loss of my job, though, because the September 11 attacks exposed the obsolete nature of this miniature satellite news operation. Not surprisingly, we folded a little more than a year later.