September 11, 2001 started with a sales meeting in the upstairs conference room at 8:30. As soon as the meeting ended, around 9:30, I went to my desk where an email from my daughter asked me what was happening.
I had no idea what she was referring to, so I went to a television back in the traffic department and got my first glimpse of the burning towers. The sound was off so thoughts went through my head in rapid succession, “plane crash? To plane crashes?Bombs?
While suspected, terrorism hadn’t been blamed as the cause yet but that quickly changed when word of the Pentagon hit came in about five minutes later.
By then just about everyone upstairs had headed down to the newsroom to watch what we could on the old CRTs that were on display around the sides of the room.
Things got personal for all of us when it was announced that the Tower flights originated in Boston. Greg McQuade had been on vacation and was due to return that day, flying from Boston. After a good deal of concern and some frantic calls it was determined that Greg was indeed safe and would be returning to us.
Most of us in sales spent a good portion of the day in the newsroom watching the monitors (it was hardly a day to try and make any sales).
All three networks had their A team coverage going and that meant Evening News anchors. For CBS it was Dan Rather.
I had watched from high school in 1963 as Rather had been one of the CBS on the scene reporters covering the assassination of John Kennedy to anchor Walter Cronkite. Conventional wisdom was that that was where Rather had “made his bones” as a TV journalist. Now I was watching him anchor yet another American tragedy/crisis and, I have to admit, kind of missing Cronkite.
Most of the rest of the day was spent speculating on who was to blame and if there were any more shoes to drop, much like probably every other office in the nation.
Don Talley works in the WTVR sales department.
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