WNYC's Radio Rookies, with the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, Present "The 9/11 Generation Speaks": Six Young Adults Report Stories about 9/11

WNYC’s Radio Rookies, in partnership with the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, Presents 



“The 9/11 Generation Speaks”



Six Tri-State Area Young Adults Share Their Memories and Perspectives on 9/11




Stories to Air During WNYC’s “Morning Edition” September 1-9


An Hour-Long Compilation Special to Air on WNYC September 10 and 11

And To Be Distributed to Public Radio Stations Across the Country by PRX


(New York, NY – August 17, 2011) – Many kids consider “the news” to be something for adults, but the tragedy of September 11, 2001 was utterly different. Whether kids experienced a personal loss or observed from a distance, 9/11 made an indelible impact.  


To mark the 10th Anniversary, RADIO ROOKIES, WNYC’s Peabody Award-winning youth journalism initiative, has partnered with the National September 11 Museum and Memorial to present “THE 9/11 GENERATION SPEAKS,” stories by young people who remember 9/11 as a lived experience


In their own words and with microphone in hand, six Radio Rookies from New York City, New Jersey and Long Island report on the ways that historic event affected them, their families, and their communities – then and now.


ERIC’S older brother Paul worked in Tower 1 and he never made it home.  JILLIAN lost her father, a New York City police officer.  NORHAN suddenly found herself the target of other kids' animosity and fear because she is Muslim.  BRENDAN and JOEY felt called to service, and plan to join the military and police force respectively.  And ERIN, whose father was a New York City firefighter, spent the months after 9/11 attending funerals and watching her father struggle to recover from devastating injuries he sustained from falling debris.


“WNYC has assembled a unique and talented pool of young people, who are sharing stories that will not only resonate with their peers, but listeners of all ages in this post-9/11 world,” said 9/11 Memorial President Joe Daniels. “WNYC should be proud of their continued work with this award-winning broadcast program, and the six Rookies should be equally proud of what they have accomplished.”


“What I really want people to know is that even though I don’t always show it, this one day in history really affected me,” said Erin Reeg, who reported on how her father’s PTSD impacted her family. “There was no ‘fluff’ with the other Rookies.  When we first started we all knew we were there for a common purpose and this connected us.  Even though we only met through this workshop, I know who they are, and they know who I am.  I am still continuing to deal with the emotions of what this one day in history did. But I’m really glad I did this project. It really helped me make sense of what I did feel for all those years, and continue to feel.”


Stories from “Radio Rookies: The 9/11 Generation Speaks” will air September 1-9 during “Morning Edition” and “Weekend Edition,” which airs on WNYC 93.9 FM and AM 820 during morning drive (see http://media40.wnyc.net/media/files/wnyc-schedule.pdf for specific airtimes).


The hour-long compilation special, which will be hosted by Brooke Gladstone, Host and Managing Editor of On the Media from WNYC, will air on Saturday, September 10 at 8pm on 93.9 FM and on Sunday, September 11 at 7pm on AM 820. The hour long special will also be distributed to public radio stations across the country by Public Radio Exchange, prx.org.  


The stories and the special will be available for on-demand listening at www.wnyc.org/radiorookies.



The stories are as follows:



Joey Rizzolo was six years old when he watched the events of September 11, 2001 on TV, while folding laundry with his grandma in his living room.  At the time, Joey didn't understand the larger meaning of what was happening – all he knew was that planes had hit buildings.  When, at 11 years old, he started to understand a little better what he saw, Joey decided to initiate a Freedom Walk to help residents of his town, Paramus, NJ, remember and honor the victims of 9/11.  Joey continues to organize the event with a committee of teenagers, who carry out all the fundraising, publicity, and logistics. Last year's Freedom Walk drew almost 1,000 people.     



Jillian Suarez’s story is one she says she doesn't want to tell with tears.  Jillian’s father, a New York City police officer, didn't come home on 9/11 and for three months her mother held out hope he would be found alive - until she received a call that his remains had been found.   Now 18 years old, Jillian rarely speaks about her loss.  For this piece, she decided to push through her silence to sit down with some of the closest people in her life, including her mom, to talk about her father’s death and what his absence has meant to her.



Eric Leinung was 11-years-old when his older brother, Paul, went to work on the 100th floor of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.  Paul didn't make it out. When adolescents are faced with a traumatic event, research shows that they often vent their feelings through aggression and rage. Eric spent his teen years fighting, sometimes physically, with his mom.  Now, 10 years after the Twin Towers collapsed, Eric reports on how he found his way through his family's loss.  He has channeled a lot of his grief into being an actor and currently has a weekend gig in the "shadow cast" of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.



After the death of Osama bin Laden, young people took to the streets to celebrate and there was discussion in the media about a "9/11 Generation,” the young people who came of age after the attacks.  Brendan Illis was a first-grader in suburban New Jersey on September 11, 2001, and he has only vague memories of that day.  Even so, he feels shaped by the events and their aftermath and hopes to join the military.  His younger siblings, who don't remember 9/11, feel little connection to it.  Brendan reports on whether or not his peers and younger siblings feel that 9/11 impacted their world view.  He asks the question: is there, in fact, a “9/11 generation”?



Norhan Basuni divides her life into the time before September 11th, and the time after. For her, it is the day that she became a symbol of Islam, and to some, of terrorism.   In the wake of the attacks, she remembers her father telling her she could no longer wear hijab because he feared for her safety after family friends were attacked in the street. She was taunted by classmates in school. She found herself having to represent and explain an entire religion, which was so tarnished by the depraved acts of a few. Now an accomplished 21-year-old college graduate, Norhan reports on how she coped with these experiences as a pre-teen and teenager, and how she developed into an educator, a spoken word poet, and a defender of her faith.



Erin Reeg’s parents were paramedics when they met and fell in love. They went on to become a firefighter and a nurse who instilled in their two daughters the ability to react calmly in a crisis and to not respond to adversity with too much emotion.  When the first tower fell on September 11th, Erin's father was hit by falling debris and all the coping strategies Erin learned from her parents kicked in.  She and her sister went about life as usual, even though their father spent two weeks in the hospital, coming out a changed man.  Erin interviews her parents and sister about the days, months and years that followed.


The hour-long compilation hour of “Radio Rookies: The 9/11 Generation Speaks” was made possible, in part, through funding from PRX.




About Radio Rookies

Radio Rookies is a WNYC initiative that provides teenagers with the tools and training to create radio stories about themselves, their communities and their world. Since 1999, Radio Rookies has been conducting workshops across New York, in predominantly under-resourced neighborhoods, training young people to use words and sounds to tell true stories. Upon completion, the Rookies' documentaries air on WNYC, and occasionally on NPR. Radio Rookies typically runs one or two workshops a year, each lasting anywhere from four to eight months. During the workshops, Rookie Reporters learn everything about radio journalism: from how to conduct an interview and develop a story to how to craft a script and digitally edit their audio. There is no fee, and the program provides all the equipment and instruction needed.


About New York Public Radio

New York Public Radio is New York's premier public radio franchise, comprising WNYC, WQXR, and The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, as well as www.wnyc.org, www.wqxr.org and www.thegreenespace.org.  As America's most listened-to AM/FM news and talk public radio stations, reaching 1.1 million listeners every week, WNYC extends New York City's cultural riches to the entire country on-air and online, and presents the best national offerings from networks National Public Radio, Public Radio International, American Public Media, and the British Broadcasting Company. WNYC 93.9 FM broadcasts a wide range of daily news, talk, cultural and music programming, while WNYC AM 820 maintains a stronger focus on breaking news and international news reporting. Classical 105.9 WQXR is New York City's sole 24-hour classical music station, presenting new and landmark classical recordings as well as live concerts from the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, among other New York City venues, immersing listeners in the city's rich musical life. In addition to its audio content, WNYC and WQXR produce content for live, radio and web audiences from The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, the station's street-level multipurpose, multiplatform broadcast studio and performance space. For more information about New York Public Radio, visit www.nypublicradio.org.


About the National September 11 Memorial & Museum  

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum is the not-for-profit corporation created to oversee the design, raise the funds, and program and operate the Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center site. The Memorial and Museum will be located on eight of the 16 acres of the site. The Memorial will be dedicated on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and will open to the public with advance passes the following day. The Museum will open in 2012.


The Memorial will remember and honor the nearly 3,000 people who died in the horrific attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and Feb. 26, 1993. The design, created by Michael Arad and Peter Walker, consists of two pools formed in the footprints of the original Twin Towers and a plaza of trees.


The Museum will display monumental artifacts linked to the events of 9/11, while presenting intimate stories of loss, compassion, reckoning and recovery that are central to telling the story of the 2001 attacks and the aftermath. It will communicate key messages that embrace both the specificity and the universal implications of the events of 9/11; document the impact of those events on individual lives, as well as on local, national, and international communities; and explore the continuing significance of these events for our global community.


When the Memorial opens, construction will continue on the other World Trade Center projects and free visitor passes will be temporarily required. To plan a visit to the Memorial or learn how to contribute, go to 911memorial.org.


Follow the Memorial & Museum on Twitter: @sept11memorial.



Public Radio Exchange (PRX) is an award-winning public media company that brings compelling content to millions of people. PRX operates public radio’s largest distribution marketplace, offering thousands of audio stories for broadcast and digital use. Signature programs from PRX include The Moth Radio Hour, Sound Opinions, State of the Re:Union, Snap Judgment, American Routes, and WTF with Marc Maron. The best stories are showcased on Public Radio Remix at XM 123.  PRX also creates cutting-edge mobile apps for public radio, including the Public Radio Player and This American Life. PRX is funded in part by grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Knight Foundation.


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