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Remembering 9/11: 20th Anniversary Programming on NHPR

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This year marks the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks -- a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and the downing of United Airlines Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. To mark one of the most somber days in our nation’s history, NHPR will have national and local coverage commemorating events related to 9/11, with programs airing throughout September.

The broadcast lineup:

Friday, September 10: 

1 to 2 p.m.: Sacred Ground: A September 11th Special from NPR (covering The Takeaway)

On September 11, 2001, Tim Lambert was a young journalist at WITF, a public broadcaster in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The day was a blur of news, the collapse of the Twin Towers, the burning site of the Pentagon and - closer to home - the charred pit near Shanksville, where a fourth hijacked plane had gone down. This caught Tim’s attention for a personal reason; hee owned land near Shanksville, passed down to him from his grandfather. That night, when Tim finally dragged himself home, he saw a blinking message on his answering machine. It was his dad-telling him he was sure United Airlines Flight 93 had crashed on Tim’s land. His father was right. That phone call began a 20-year journey for Tim. He'd find himself involved in the recovery efforts in Shanksville. He'd find himself growing closer and closer to the family members of the people on the plane. He'd find himself a caretaker of the land until a fitting memorial could be built. And because Tim Lambert was a journalist, he'd find himself with a unique personal vantage point into 9/11 shared by no other reporter in America.

4 to 6:30 p.m.: All Things Considered (ATC) and StoryCorps 

In collaboration with StoryCorps, ATC brings us a segment length story, examining the gravity of the loss experienced subsequent to the 9/11 attacks, from three different perspectives: those personally involved on that day; servicemembers who have fought in Afghanistan and Iraq; and the citizens of those countries who lost homes and loved ones as these conflicts played out over two decades.

Also, here in New Hampshire, NHPR’s  ATC team has been working with listeners to collect responses for an ongoing project called The Big Question, asking listeners a question to gauge their feelings on what impacts their lives or their communities. As part of the project, the team posed the question ‘what were you doing on 9/11? They’ll share listener responses and perspectives to that question in a segment that will be part of this two-hour overall broadcast.

7 to 9 p.m.: Blindspot - The Road to 9/11  (covering The World, The Daily, and Marketplace

While the devastating images of the 9/11 attacks are seared into our national collective memory, most of the events that led up to that day took place out of public view. As the 20th anniversary of this tragic moment in American history approaches, Blindspot: The Road to 9/11 brings to light the decade-long “shadow struggle” that preceded the attacks. Hosted by WNYC reporter Jim O’Grady, this two-hour radio special draws on interviews with a range of sources — including CIA agents, security experts, and people who knew the terrorists personally — and weaves them together with original reporting to create a gripping, narrative audio experience.

We follow the story of Emad Salem, an Egyptian-born civilian who infiltrated a terrorist cell in New Jersey -- he is considered by some to be one of the most successful undercover operatives in the history of the FBI. Other voices in the program include: former CIA director Leon Panetta, former US Attorney Mary Jo White, writer Steve Coll, and journalists John Miller and Peter Bergen. We also hear the perspectives of extremists, in their own words.

NOTE: Blindspot: The Road to 9/11 is based on a nine-part podcast of the same name that was hailed as one of The50 Best Podcasts of 2020 by The Atlantic. Blindspot is a co-production of HISTORY (formerly The History Channel) and WNYC Studios; it draws on material from HISTORY's television documentary Road to 9/11 (produced by Left/Right), as well as original reporting by WNYC.

Listeners can hear the full series here.

Saturday, September 11: 

President Biden is scheduled to visit all three memorials on Saturday, while former President George W. Bush is expected to speak at the Flight 93 Memorial in Pennsylvania. NPR is expected to air live remarks as news events warrant. 

7 to 8 a.m.: BBC: 9/11 - The Day That Changed Our Lives Forever (covering Latino USA)

Twenty years on from the terror attacks which left more than 3,000 people dead, New Yorkers recall in their own words, where they were, and how in the days, months and years afterwards they’ve managed to process the horrors of what happened.

New Yorkers like Ray Birge, who was under one of the Twin Towers when the first plane hit, talk about how sharing their stories in the 9/11 Memorial Tour helps them cope with the trauma that never goes away. The program is peppered with poetry, drama and music directly inspired by the events of September 11th 2001.

8 a.m. to noon: Weekend Edition - Special Coverage

NHPR will extend Weekend Edition through noon to ensure live coverage of the remembrance ceremonies and other 9/11-related special coverage in the morning. NPR’s Scott Simon will host the morning’s coverage, which will include conversations with survivors from the attack on the World Trade Center, a remembrance of the events at the Pentagon, and stories from the families of firefighters lost on the ground in New York City that day. Simon and NPR’s Ron Elving will also discuss how the U.S. Government has changed since 2001, and another piece will focus on what it’s like to be a Muslim in America.

NOTE: The last two hours of the Weekend Edition special coverage will cover Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me and It's Been a Minute. The week’s broadcast of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me can still be heard Sunday at noon. New program episodes can also be found on the NHPR mobile app. Live coverage may interrupt other programming.

5 to 6 p.m. - Weekend All Things Considered

Continued coverage from NPR will include updates on events of the day along with reporting, interviews and analysis of what September 11, 2001 means 20 years later. Michel Martin will host. Reporting will include conversations with people who were children in 2001, sharing their vantage points on their connection to the events of the day; a look at the movie “Worth”, a fictional account of the 9/11 victims fund released last year; and a report from Eric Deggans on how television was transformed by the nation’s biggest terrorist attack.

RELATED COVERAGE: 

Civics 101 - Tuesday, September 7 (and beyond)

Civics 101 - NHPR’s podcast about the basics of U.S. democracy will be taking an ongoing look at topics related to 9/11. Through a five-part series, the team will explore topics related to how the U.S. Government changed after 9.11; how the Government responded to events relating to 9/11, and what has changed in our society as a result of the terrorist attacks. The first episode is planned for September 7, with other episodes likely being produced once a month. Each episode will be 20-25 minutes in length.
Topics will include:

  • The Department of Justice and the FBI (how both institutions changed as a result of 9/11). 
  • The Transportation Security Administration
  • The Guantanamo Bay detention camp 
  • The 9/11 Commission

Special Programs After September 11: 

Throughline Episodes:

Sunday, September 19, 4 to 5 p.m.: Afghanistan: The Center of the World

Long before the U.S. was even a nation - countless civilizations intersected in Afghanistan, weaving together a colorful tapestry of foods, languages, ethnicities and visions of what Afghanistan was and could be. The story of Afghanistan is too often told from the perspective of outsiders and failed invasions. Instead, in this episode, we’ll journey through the centuries alongside Afghan mystical poets. We’ll turn the radio dial to hear Afghanistan’s Elvis. We’ll meet the queen who built the first primary school for girls in the country. And we’ll take a closer look at Afghanistan’s centuries-long experiment to create a unified nation.

Sunday, September 26, 4 to 5 p.m.: The Rise of the Taliban

How did a small group of Islamic students go from local vigilantes to become “The Taliban,” one of the most infamous and enigmatic forces in the world? In the aftermath of the end of the 20-year U.S. war in Afghanistan, Throughline looks back to the end of the Soviet Occupation and the start of the Afghan civil war, to chart the rise of the Taliban. The story concludes Throughline's two episode investigation on the past, present, and future of the country that was once called “the center of the world.”

To view NHPR’s daily and weekly programming schedule, click here.

For details on all of NHPR’s on-air programs, click here.

Aytaj Ismayilova is NHPR’s digital membership associate. She worked as a marketing intern for CatchFire creative agency and as a public relations intern for a local Concord communications agency Louis Karno & Co Communication.
Tricia directs external communications, marketing and engagement efforts for New Hampshire Public Radio, working to raise further awareness of the high-quality journalism at NHPR and the organization’s deep community outreach.

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