Larry Martino

Weekdays 3:00pm - 8:00pm

Photo of audio equipment in a broadcast studio. A set of black headphones sit on top of a digital tape player in an equipment rack circa September 11, 2001.

September 11, 2001. If you were alive on that day, you’ll never forget where you were and what you were doing when you first heard the tragic news. Certainly, we here in the United States had not lived through an attack on our nation like that since the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II. These are my memories of what it was like being a radio broadcaster on 9/11.

How I Heard The News

As I mentioned before, none of us will ever forget where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. My Mother still lived back east in New Hampshire at that time. She rang our phone shortly after 7 a.m. Pacific Time. I was too groggy to even answer the phone, but in my sleepiness, I heard her shout on the answering machine: “Larry, turn on the TV! Something terrible is happening in New York City! We’re being attacked!”

By the time I wiped the sleep out of my eyes and turned on the TV, both towers of the World Trade Center had already been hit and were on fire. The Pentagon in Washington, D.C. had also been attacked.

However, I watched in total shock, horror, and disbelief, as the first tower crumpled to the ground on live television. Undoubtedly, it felt like I was watching a computer graphic effect in a Hollywood movie. “Is this really happening,” I thought? Well, it was.

What It Was Like Being On The Radio On September 11

In general, you surely know how the rest of that tragic day unfolded. If not, there are plenty of articles on the internet which offer details. At that time, I was the afternoon host on Star 102.7 here in Las Vegas. Remember “The 80s Station?” Our program director had the morning show switch over to network news broadcasts as soon as he confirmed the news. It just did not seem appropriate to play music or air commercials.

In fact, we did not play any music the rest of that day. The following day, starting with the morning show, we let our listeners express their feelings about what we were living through. The 9-11 attacks were a shocking and humbling experience for all of us.

Subsequently, we did begin playing songs, but we were very careful about not playing certain inappropriate titles. Consequently, being on the air for me was so different. We were sad and hurt. Knowing what to say and how to say it when I opened the microphone was all new to me.

Even though I was a 20-year radio professional at the time, it was very difficult coming up with the right words, phrases, and emotional expressions. Furthermore, as the days progressed, we did not want to keep dwelling on the tragedy. Walking that fine line between sadness, happiness, and wanting to get back to normal life was one of the most difficult things to determine.

Unfortunately, we Las Vegans would live through another heart-breaking and senseless tragedy on 1 October in 2017. I surely hope we never have to live through anything like that ever again.

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