CPR Promotional Check-Up - Sep 7, 2012
September 7, 2012
September 11, 2012
Like a lot of kids, at one point I asked my parents where they were and what they were doing when they heard about Pearl Harbor. 9/11 was this era's Pearl Harbor. I still remember sitting at my computer, drinking coffee, when Russ Allen called and yelled a barely intelligible message on my answering machine and hung up. I was talking with Bill Pasha yesterday and verbatim he was recalling every moment that morning at Entercom in Baltimore.
I think that Radio really rose to the occasion and for a lot of us, it reminded us that we can actually do good things and we don't just have to be Shiny Happy People all the time. There's more to life then "Family Four Packs" and "Free Music Weekends".
I had just started at KSOL (soon to be Wild) in SFO when the first anniversary of the World Series Earthquake occurred. We went out and sat at what remained of the highway that collapsed in Oakland and at precisely the moment of the earthquake, the city fell silent and the church bells started ringing. It was moving. And that's your goal for 9/11/12: do something that moves your audience. Any time you can give your audience the Full Body Shivers, you have moved beyond being just another stupid radio station. An iPOD can never move people.
NYC read the names in '03. I was at WBLS in 1993 for National Stop The Violence Day and we had Jesse Jackson in the studio, reading the list of murder victims from that year. To put names to the numbers is mind-blowing. And when he got to "Unknown #23, Unknown #24..." it was hair-raising.
We're still at war because of what happened eleven years ago. Our citizens are being shot at and killed. To continue blithely on as if it's business-as-usual will make you sound like you're operating in a parallel universe, and worse, it's almost an insult to the people who have loved ones in Afghanistan.
In the meantime, in no particular order....
Bell Tolling The exact total of casualties from 9/11 fluctuates. I had heard 3245 once. But if you go to www.wikipedia.com/wiki/September_11_2001_Terrorist_Attack/Casualties and add it up, I came out with 3213. I would go to a park, get a bell, hang it from a beam or tree limb, and let listeners come by and each ring it once, until you get 3213. In theory that should go about 54 minutes. WPXY in Rochester had a firebell in '03 at a local fire station. People could drive up, lean out their window and ring it. It was great because it allowed their listeners to participate. Which is why....
The Human Flag Was HUGE with the stations that have done it. With the continued war in Afghanistan, use this as an opportunity to salute the troops.
Empty Shoes The Box in Houston did this in '94 for and took x number of pairs of empty shoes (one for each murder victim in that market) and drove to DC and laid them out on the steps of the Capital. The Wave in Charleston did this with candles and 3245 empty shoes in a park in '02. VERY dramatic. WIOG in Saginaw called theirs The Lost Soles.
Survivor Interviews One my best friends actually went and made something of himself and became a lawyer at some massive firm in New York. Everyone in that market knows someone who knows someone...you get the idea. Karl got a guy from Ireland who he knows, who escaped WTC 1 as a plane passed over his head. He's done several of the morning shows. Riveting.
Luminaries Wild in San Francisco went out to the beach and set up 3213 bags with lit candles in them in '03. How big was this? It was only supposed to go all night, but for a couple of days people kept coming back and replacing the candles on their own.
Name Reading Go out to a central location, set up a mike, and have your listeners do it. That wikipedia website has a moderately complete list. Z-90 in San Diego did this in '02 at the Sports Arena. Incorporated the Marine Corps band, a flyover by jets. Maybe the biggest thing that was done in the industry that year.
Re-Naming Is there a local angle? Was someone from your market killed in the attacks? A guy from one of the suburbs of Minneapolis is recognized as the person who started the rebellion on Flight 93. They re-named a post office in his honor. How about a park? Or even bigger, a stretch of highway? So few radio stations ever leave a legacy. Here is an opportunity that is just waiting to happen.
Vets This is also a chance to honor the local servicemen and women who responded to the call of duty following the attacks. Get some on the air, recognize their efforts and sacrifices. Also recognize the people who are overseas right now. Brother Wease at WCMF in Rochester did his show at a Veterans Hospital that was scheduled to be shut down by budget cuts.
Flags Lead the charge to get EVERYBODY in town to fly a flag on the 11th. Start hoarding them now and pass them out en masse starting the weekend before.
Lots Of Flags One of the stations did The Healing Field where they filled a lawn at a courthouse with 3213 flags. All on six foot poles. So to wander through them gave you a sense of being lost in a forest. Huge. Jamz in Birmingham filled a park with 3213 tiny flags that were stuck in the ground. They also had a giant red, white and blue wreath that people could come and drop a flower on. All of these were delivered to patients in hospitals.
Hill Of Flags I was in LA with Mo from KZIA for 9/11/09 and we drove past the campus of Pepperdine where the whole hillside sweeping down to PCH was covered in flags on poles. The side of the road was a parking lot as people jumped out to take pics. http://www.flickr.com/photos/38952296@N00/2851256960/
Cops and Firefighters I think that people forget that these people put their lives on the line every day. 9/11/11 is a chance to honor your local heroes. Bring them lunch. Have them on the air. Do a giant card of thanks for all of their hard work. Foxy in Fayetteville brought lunch to fire stations and police stations in '04.
Moment Of Silence Lead the charge for a moment of silence in your market. Wherever and whatever people are doing at 8:46 am, have them stop and pause to remember those who lost their lives.
Candles Just about every station did a candlelight vigil. This might be the time to do it with 3245 people in a stadium. With the lights out. Or use xyalume light sticks. Might look even cooler on TV.
Charities Following 9/11, American opened up their veins and pocket books and gave generously to the NYC relief effort. Unfortunately, this impacted the 98% of national charities and organizations that aren't huge groups like the United Way and Red Cross. Find 10 or 12 worthy local community charities in your market that are struggling, and starting at 8:46 am, do a 24 hour event to raise funds for them. And please...no Radiothons. They suck.
The Spirit Of Volunteering That was something that happened after the attacks. People helped people. Anyway they could. Power 96 in Miami, KDWB in Minneapolis and KKMG in Colorado Springs all had lists of local agencies needing volunteers, on their station websites.
Scrolling Names Talk about impactful. Power in Miami had a continually scrolling list of the names of the victims on their site in 2009. An amazing visual.
Where Were You Some of the best Radio I ever heard was when Power 106 in LA opened up the phones and let people talk during the Rodney King riots. Maybe drop the music for the morning and let people talk about how this has affected them, and tell where they were and how they felt when they heard about the attack. The Zone in Chicago did this and the phones melted. Everyone had a story to share.
Headlights Encourage people to drive with their headlights on all day on the 11th.
White Ribbons Encourage everyone to wear them on their arms and/or tie them to their car antennas on the 11th.
A Card For The Troops V-103 in Atlanta had a giant card that people came and signed, and this was shipped over to a unit in the Middle East. People could also drop off care packages of necessities that were then forwarded to servicemen and woman.
Psychiatrists Leading up to the 11th, get a mental health professional on the air to talk about post-traumatic stress syndrome and other results of the attacks.
Bracelets/Dog Tags The big thing during the Vietnam War was for people (moi included, even though I was just in sixth grade) to wear a silver bracelet with the name of a POW or MIA on it. Do this for local kids who are stationed in Afghanistan.
Re-Doing Your Website Z-100 in Portland did something that was actually not that bad. They replaced the website with a giant waving flag. And something like "In Memory Of The Lost." Simple. But very impactful. Any time you mess with your website, it gets people's attention. It tells that that this is very out-of-the-ordinary.