9.11.12

We were about to air a produced segment. We had given ex-Presidents/politicians new careers. Bill Clinton had opened a brothel; Al Gore had a comedy club – there were a lot of crickets when he took to the stage.

I was literally about to press play as the song came to a close, and the phone line lit up.

On a music station, during a morning show, the phone lines are always lighting up:

  •  “Can you play Alicia Keys this morning?”
  • “What’s that song that the guy sings, and it’s slow, and it’s got a drum that’s kind of heavy…”
  • “Hey! Can you play Do It Like a Lady by Aerosmith?”

On a music station, you learn to answer with things like:

  • “It’s coming up.”
  • “You’re thinking of Lifehouse.” And…
  • “It’s Dude Looks Like a Lady, but I might be able to get it on here in a sec. Thanks for listening! Have a great day!”

On a music station, you don’t answer the phones if you can help it. But I felt compelled to answer it.

“102.3 The Planet.”

“Molly, it’s Heidi.”

Heidi is my best friend. She knew me with big hair, when I chain-smoked, when I was less than forgiving, when the world was still very “or” and not very “and” – black or white, right or wrong. She loved me anyway. Loves me anyway.

“What up, Bitchie.”

“Something has happened. A plane hit the World Trade Center.”

It was 11 days before my 23rd birthday; a month before my wedding. Life is funny; things change. I was slowly computing what her words meant. We segued into the next song. The ex-Presidents/politicians bit would not play that day.

“Hold on.” I logged into the computer – this old, slightly large computer that crashed on the hour, every hour. I couldn’t get online.

“Piece of shit. I can’t get online. Heidi, I need you to go on air and tell me what’s going on since you can see the TV.”

“OK.”

It was brief. She simply explained what she saw. We hung up – “I love you. Bye.”

People were trickling into the station. We broke into our General Manager’s office – he was the only one with a TV. We turned it on just as the second plane hit. I remember the “smack” as it made contact.

That morning, I became a reporter. These are my notes from that day.

I remember scrolling through music that was coming up and trying to take out the stuff that felt inappropriately happy – Katrina and the Waves’ “Walking on Sunshine” was one I clearly remember.

We watched as people jumped to their deaths. As the towers fell. As people ran.

Then, I would go into the studio, turn on the mic and just tell people what I was seeing. I spent the next two hours on air, reporting. Only I wasn’t a reporter. I was a 23-year-old morning show host who kept saying things like, “As I learn about stuff, you’ll learn about stuff.” And “Umm…I have nothing confirmed.” And “Holy crap! I have no idea what’s going on.”

Later, at Clear Channel music stations across the United States, a list went out. I wasn’t part of Clear Channel, but I got the memo, forwarded from a friend with “What the hell is this?!?”” as the subject line. The memo offered a list of songs that perhaps shouldn’t be played for a while. Things like “Bennie and the Jets,” “Mack the Knife,” and “You Dropped a Bomb on Me.” I didn’t save it. I’m sure it’s on the interwebs somewhere.

Later, when she and I would talk about it, I remember cry laughing as she said, “What the fuck The Gap Band ever do to you?”

I still love that song. “I…I – I…I – I…I won’t forget it.”

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