“One” September 11, 2001 – Paul Armstrong
9/11 – a day that gained sad popularity in the minds of us all. Eleven years have passed since the terrible terroristic attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, but we still have the horrible pictures in our minds. Everybody of us knows exactly, what we have done this day, what we felt, the minute we saw the pictures on all TV channels.
In the world of modern radio imaging, where it’s all about speed, ppm, power and excitement, this topic seems not a match. No big effects, no pumping beats this time – it’s just about the message.
This year, we have a special piece from a world-class imaging talent. multi Sony and ALL ACCESS Awards winner and Benztown imaging director Paul Armstrong. Check out his remarkable piece. THIS IS EPIC!
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Read Paul’s thoughts about 9/11 and his approach to this difficult and sensitive topic + check his screen caps and learn more.
September 11th, 2001… I was no more than 2 or 3 weeks into my first radio job at Century 106 in Nottingham.
Working in the hustle and bustle of the “Sports Team” was fantastic – not only did I get to listen to goals, interviews and out-takes from my favourite sports stars, I was getting paid for this! Life was good. As most people will know, working in a radio station (especially back in 2001), it meant we had around 20 televisions in our news department. All tuned to different channels, keeping track on all news sources. It meant we had, pretty much, every story covered.
Just after lunch, I remember coming back into the office and hearing people mentioning a plane had crashed into The World Trade Centre, New York. A terrible misjudgment by a pilot? Terrorist? A hoax?
Regardless, the pictures looked like something from a movie. It didn’t seem real – this is where having 20 or so televisions was a little unnerving. I remember talking with the Sport News Reporter and seeing what he thought was a “Rescue” plane slowly gliding towards the Towers.
“That’s a big plane… and it’s… getting… really… close…”
Like all that witnessed the events, seeing the “live” image of the 2nd plane hit the Tower on that day is a fresh now as it was then.
For me, 9/11 was the first “real” event in my life that I know I will one day tell my Grandchildren “I remember exactly where I was all those years ago”.
I don’t want to appear obsessed with 9/11 or indeed make my story out to be special in any way – we all have our own memories of that awful day – but I do feel like I have very strong attachment, for some reason, to the events of that day. Maybe because I’ve been lucky enough to have visited New York so many times. Maybe because I wanted to help, but couldn’t. Who knows.
One thing that day did (hopefully do) is bring people together. I don’t want to talk about the subsequent wars and “other terrible acts” that have happened since – that’s a whole different story. This is about September 11th 2001.
So, with this piece I tried to tell the story from how I feel about it.
The uncertainty. The realization. The steps we’ve taken to move forward.
The music, I feel, works really well and is by Helen Jane Long – an incredible composer of emotive music that I really admire. It’s tempo works well with the piece and, hopefully, brings a sense of “hope” towards the end.
Jude Corbett, as per usual, really understood the script and his tone/delivery is really fitting to the piece. It’s amazing to think that Jude voiced this without hearing the audio AT ALL on the other side of the world to me here in London. It’s nice to work with talent that “gets it”. Jude, certainly does.
As a producer who usually uses way too much compression, ear-bleeding FX and Distorted EQs (sorry guys!) I stripped it all back to a simple reverb, gentle reverse reverbs and a rather “haunting” echo – with low EQ filters.
I also hear a lot of 9/11 production that sounds like a movie trailer. Heavy drones… “scary” distortion… for me, this feels wrong. So, I took a much more respectful, but equally “powerful” approach. This isn’t to pull on the heart-strings, it’s to pay respect in an almost silent way.
Finally, being British, I did want to try to write and produce this audio from an Americans point of view – with all of the above in mind – I hope this is something I’ve come close to doing.
The end result is something I’m proud of, but most importantly I hope it tells the story of how the World become ONE on that September day.
Check out Paul’s screencaps of his 9/11 session