On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Howard Stern was hosting his radio show, The Howard Stern Show, when terrorists crashed two planes into New York City's World Trade Center, with another attack soon target the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
In those moments, Stern's program changed from its usual raucous self to a serious news report that unfolded in real time, with people calling in and Stern sharing news as he heard it to help those listening process what was happening.
During the show, Stern was discussing having sex with Pamela Anderson around 8:56 a.m. when the first reports began to come in. Callers began using the phone lines to share accounts from the surrounding area, with the unknown aspect of the situation clear in the moment.
The radio program broadcast about two miles from the site of the attacks, with the host and co-hosts watching live footage of the terrible day that was occurring just outside.
Stern went on to suspend the show's commercials, reporting on the news and allowing his listeners to call in and do so as well.
“We’re just going to come back and be with you,” he told listeners.
Initial theories posited an air traffic control mishap, before terrorism was suggested as the possible, and eventually proven true, motive.
The broadcast is a real-time look at a group of people realizing what exactly was happening, with confusion and anger taking top spots as Stern and his co-stars worked to figure out what was going on. The group eventually decided to end the broadcast after the two towers fell.
“We’ll all be sitting around waiting to hear what goes on,” Stern said at the end of the show. “Let this be the day that we woke up.”
The broadcast has since been applauded for its real-time reaction.
“We are not a news organization. So everything was very visceral. We had the ability to speculate without fear of reprisal,” Stern’s producer Gary Dell’Abate said after the fact, according to Rare. “We’re not NBC News, we’re not CBS news. We were probably representing most of the audience’s [feelings] at that time. These feelings you get of, ‘What if it’s this?’ or ‘What if it’s that?’ And we were able to articulate that.”0comments
The Sept. 11 attacks saw terrorists crash two planes into the World Trade Center in New York City, followed by the Pentagon. In total, 2,977 people were killed in the attack.
Photo Credit: Getty / Dave Kotinsky