For forty years, Harry Belafonte had been trying to get his recording project on the market. It was the history of African American music in the New World and titled The Long Road to Freedom. He’d been at it so long that the technology of music recording had changed, and now the eighty songs would be on five compact discs, packaged with a hardback book and a bonus DVD. I was in my office reviewing all this material in preparation for my first interview with one of America’s musical legends.
Outside my door, half a dozen members of the Morning Edition staff were watching television. A plane had struck one of the towers of the World Trade Center. No one was talking about a commercial airliner, so it was assumed to be a single-engine aircraft that probably had mechanical failure, since the weather in New York was beautiful. A local story but worthy of mention in a newscast. I joined the little TV audience for a minute or so, and we saw a second plane enter the picture and crash into the WTC’s other tower. It was clearly not a local story, and Harry Belafonte would have to be interviewed some other day.
I anchored live, unscripted radio for the next four hours until another crew took over for the Morning Edition unit. On that horrifying day, many Americans asked what they could do; we were among the lucky ones who knew what we could do—we could do our jobs. I still get compliments from people who heard us. They always say we were