On Sept. 11, 2001, radio personality Howard Stern was live on the air as the terrorist attacks unfolded.
Stern’s shock-jock radio persona took a back seat to the news as he watched and listened to the attacks unfold just two miles away.
At about two minutes into the broadcast, show producer Gary Dell’Abate interrupted Stern’s ongoing story about actress Pamela Anderson to break the news of the first plane, American Airlines Flight 11, which crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
Listen in the video below:
“I don’t mean to interrupt the fun but this is a breaking news story, a serious news story,” Dell’Abate said. “A plane has crashed into the World Trade Center. The World Trade Center is on fire.”
He advised Stern and the rest of the radio team to look just out their window to see the first signs of the attack.
Stern initially joked, imitating a news anchor calling on a field correspondent, to deliver the report from the beyond the station.
“Fortunately it’s early in the morning, maybe not too many people are in the building,” Stern said, not yet aware of the nearly 3,000 lives that would be lost in the ensuing attacks.
Only a few minutes later in the broadcast, Stern’s reacted to the second plane, United Airlines Flight 175, which hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center at 9:03 a.m. that day.
Stern had at one point wondered aloud if it was a terrorist attack, but listened to the report of the first plane strike, which was treated initially as an accident and compared to a “drunk driver driving a car.”
Speculation changed following the second plane’s confirmed impact.
“We’re under attack,” Stern said.
Stern compared the attack to the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor.
“We are at war. But who are we at war with?” Stern said.
He later speculated Osama Bin Laden was connected to the attack.
As the video continues, Stern and his crew wonder what they could do as they watched the chaos unfold. Stern at one point wondered if he should continue the show.
The team can be heard wondering when government officials would respond to the news of the plane crashes.
Almost an hour later, the radio crew watched as the first tower collapsed at just before 10 a.m. that morning. They stayed on the air, watching as the second building began to collapse almost half an hour later.
Near the end of the broadcast, Dell’Abate wondered aloud how he would explain the news of the attack to his son.
Al Qaeda and its then-leader Osama Bin Laden were eventually identified as the culprits behind the attacks.
In the 18 years since, the U.S. is still seeking justice for those involved in the attacks and have planned 2020 trials for some of the remaining planners of the attacks.