Former THIRTEEN President & CEO Bill Baker reflects on THIRTEEN’s responses and losses on September 11, 2001, the day terrorists attacked its home city.On July 11, 2001, WNET celebrated the installation of its first digital transmitter on Tower One of the World Trade Center with a party at Windows on the World. Two months later, on September 11, Rod Coppola, a beloved THIRTEEN engineer tasked with maintaining the transmitter, was among the nearly 3,000 people killed when the towers collapsed. Our nation, our city, and WNET were changed forever.
Shortly after the attacks, we resumed broadcasting from a back-up tower in New Jersey and began airing New York Voices, Bill Moyers specials, children’s shows about 9/11, and other programs designed to help viewers understand and cope. The day after 9/11, THIRTEEN donated its dozens of phones and available space to the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management and the Red Cross. Hotlines were set up for families trying to locate their loved ones. For weeks, OEM workers and Red Cross volunteers took up residence in the hallways and the Boardroom of our former offices at 450 West 33rd Street. And two volunteers, whose wedding had to be postponed, got married at THIRTEEN a few days later.
Memories of this devastating event still resonate as THIRTEEN commemorates the anniversary of 9/11 with programs honoring the heroes, victims, and enduring spirit of New Yorkers.