Former CNN Anchor Aaron Brown Sits Down for Rare Interview on the 20th Anniversary of 9/11 Attacks

Shaping Opinion Podcast Will Release 9 Episodes Starting September 3rd

Featuring Stories from People Who Were There

On Tuesday, September 7, 2021, former CNN lead news anchor Aaron Brown sits down with our Shaping Opinion podcast to talk about September 11, 2001, 20 years later. He gets into tremendous detail about that day, what he was thinking, feeling, and now, reflecting.

Aaron Brown’s reporting and his words became iconic journalism, representative of the day that changed American history. In this interview, he describes the moment he first heard the news, his unforgettable reporting from a rooftop in lower Manhattan, and the impact of September 11th on a nation, and himself.

On September 11, 2021, America will mark the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the country that happened on September 11, 2001. In remembrance of the event, the Shaping Opinion podcast will release a series of nine distinct episodes centered on the 9/11 attacks, starting on Friday, September 3rd and culminating on the 20th Anniversary, September 11, 2021.

Our series, entitled, “9/11: A Generation Removed,” will feature six new and original episodes for 2021, and three encore episodes, all based on the personal experiences of guests and stories of people who were there in New York, in Washington, D.C., and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Eight episodes feature full-length interviews, in keeping with the Shaping Opinion Podcast’s format, and one comprehensive narrative style episode that followed the entirety of the day’s events, featuring all of the series’ guests and audio content from many other sources. That episode, entitled, “As It Happened,” will be released on Monday, September 6, 2021 (Labor Day).

Full Episode Schedule

  • Friday, September 3, 2021, “9/11: A Pentagon Story” – This encore episode features retired Navy Captain Bill Toti, who was in the Pentagon at the time of the attacks. He tells his emotional and gripping story of the moments before, during and after American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon.
  • Saturday, September 4, 2021, “9/11: A Shanksville Story” – This encore episode features former FBI special agent Bill Crowley, who was responsible for all crisis communications on scene at Shanksville, Pennsylvania where United Flight 93 crashed. He tells his story from the moment of the attacks and through the investigation, when an empty field was both a crime scene and an overnight news media hub.
  • Sunday, September 5, 2021, “9/11: An NYPD Story” – This encore episode features former NYPD detective Chris O’Connor, who tells his story from the moments the first plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center through the many years since when he and many other first responders have had to wrestle with the health after-effects of that day.
  • Monday, September 6, 2021, “9/11: As It Happened” – This new and original episode is a 100-minute narrative of September 11, 2001 in chronological order as it happened. It features all eight of this series’ guests and recordings from a wide range of others, from air traffic controllers to President George W. Bush. It provides the full story of September 11th and includes an insightful epilogue from guests looking back on this anniversary.
  • Tuesday, September 7, 2021, “9/11: A Network Anchor Story” – Former CNN lead news anchor Aaron Brown sits down to talk about that day, from the moments he first heard the news, his iconic reporting from a rooftop in lower Manhattan, and reflections on the impact September 11th had on a nation, and himself.
  • Wednesday, September 8, 2021, “9/11: Running with the President” – Former Bloomberg News White House correspondent Dick Keil tells his story of that day, which started with him joining the president for a morning run in Sarasota, and would continue as Keil and the White House press corps could cover the event from Air Force One.
  • Thursday, September 9, 2021, “9/11: Inside the White House Bunker” – Retired Marine Lt. Colonel Robert J. Darling tells his story of what it was like to staff the White House bunker on September 11, 2001, taking a series of historic phone calls and witnessing unprecedented decision-making from an insider’s perspective.
  • Friday, September 10, 2021, “9/11: A Flag Raising” – Photographer Tom Franklin recaps his coverage of September 11th that started by taking photos of survivors of the attacks for his newspaper, and culminating in his capturing of the most famous image of that day and one of the most iconic photos of all time. Franklin tells the story of that photo of three FDNY firefighters raising a flag at Ground Zero.
  • Saturday, September 11, 2021, “9/11: Never Forget” – Ed Root, the cousin of Lorraine Bay, a flight attendant on Flight 93, tells the story behind one sustained effort to keep the memory of 9/11 alive. Root is active with the group called Families of Flight 93, and talks about how the nation’s collective memory has faded, but also what has been done, and what has to be done so that America never forgets.

Tim O’Brien, the creator of the Shaping Opinion Podcast said: “Every year, we create a special episode on the anniversary of 9/11, which features a first-person oral history from someone who was there. This year, we decided to devote much more attention to the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America to ensure that the lessons of history are not lost. And that the stories of the people who endured the events of that day are not forgotten. This series is dedicated to the memories of those lost on 9/11 and their families.”

About Tim O’Brien 

Tim O’Brien is the host and producer of the Shaping Opinion podcast, a production of O’Brien Communications, a Pittsburgh-based communications consultancy. Tim founded O’Brien Communications in 2001, and provides corporate communications services to clients of all sizes.

About the Shaping Opinion Podcast

Launched in 2018, Shaping Opinion is an award-winning podcast about people, events and things that have shaped the way we think. Every Monday, the podcast releases a new episode that almost always features a one-on-one conversation.  The podcast, which is closing in on its 200th episode, has received a Bronze Anvil Award of Merit from the Public Relations Society of America. Listeners can find the podcast on all of the major podcast platforms, including: Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon, Pandora, iHeart, TuneIn Radio,, Radio Public, Stitcher and others. More information on the podcast and a full roster of episodes can be found at

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