September 9, 2011: John Williams

September 9, 2011: John Williams

John Williams 9/11 Call by the3six5chicago

My Michigan Avenue studio is just south of the Hancock building and northeast of the Willis Tower.  Ten years (plus two days) ago, this spot felt very vulnerable.  Nowhere else does Chicago seem so massive yet intimate, so busy yet relaxed, such a tourist trap and such a business hub.  And such a target.   I love this location and time of year.

But for the past ten years, the first few clear, cool, blue days of fall - like we've had this week - feel ominous.  Today was my last show before 9/11 so I opened the phones and asked, what was "your moment?"

Otherwise, it was a typical day.  6:30 - 7, stroll from Union Station to the WGN Radio studio in the Tribune Tower.  7 - 9 prep.  9 - noon, host a show on WCCO in Minneapolis - yes - from a studio here.  12:30 - 3, host my WGN Show.  And listen to varied voices, who, united once again by that tragic day, didn't want to talk about the President’s speech last night.  Or the plummeting DOW.  Or the plummeted Cubs or Sox.  Chicagoans instead jammed our lines about 9/11.

We remembered how businesses emptied early and liquor stores got busy.  There were no planes in the sky.  Everyone was NICER.  And today we were really feeling it.  I was surprised, actually, at the volume and emotion in the voices I heard.

One woman said she was in the hospital that day with her newborn baby.  She cried on the air today recollecting her worry about the new world this child was coming in to.  Another man sobbed about the call he and his wife exchanged, each checking to see that the other was okay.

But we’re a resilient lot in Chicago.  There’s no surrender in these voices.  And Chicago’s streets still teamed with eager businessmen and women, tourists, suburbanites playing hooky and teams of corporate scavenger hunters, their t-shirts matching, posing in front of a giant Marilyn Monroe statue.


About the author: John Williams hosts talk shows on WGN, Chicago and WCCO, Minneapolis.  He lives in the suburbs and hopes you won't hold that against him.  With his wife they have two sons and, to his amazement, a growing collection of dogs.


Leave a comment
  • Great post! I'm hoping to compile many 9/11 posts in one place to honor the victims. Can you please link up this post here:
    Thank you.

  • fb_avatar

    John, I have a little different memory of 9/11. I drive truck and that day had delivered grain to Pekin Energy near Peoria.On the way home to Galesburg area the first plane hit and by the time I got to Alexis Il the second had hit. My biggest memory was standing outside that Alexis elevator and watching Air Force One coming across the sky escorted by 2 fiighter jets, returning from Omaha, where they had the President secured. The sight of those 3 planes coming across that beautiful blue sky on their way to Washingron was a sense of pride I guess. Go Get 'em.

Leave a comment