The Day That Changed Christian Broadcasting
It was a day that changed a nation. Fear was the first reaction for many to the devastating attacks in New York and Washington DC. But as our nation caught its breath, fear gave way to resolve, determination, and faith.
We all remember where we were, what we felt, and how the events of that morning left an impact on every area of our lives. But as the tenth anniversary of September 11th approaches, it is important that we reflect not only on the horrors of the day and the events that followed, but that we also recognize how God used this time to call His people to faith, prayer, and unity.
There are thousands of stories of ordinary people who, in the midst of chaos and fear, were able to do something big. This happens to be the story that’s closest to our heart at Infinity Concepts because for a few of us, it’s our story:
When the first plane hit the world Trade Center, before knowing how the day would unfold and all that was to come, Cornerstone Television Network (CTVN) broke into its regular programming to report the news and open its phone lines for prayer. At first, the information was sketchy – and sometime incorrect – but the leadership at CTVN believed it was important to be a voice of hope and encouragement at such an uncertain time.
Most Christian networks were not prepared to cover breaking news, and admittedly neither was CTVN, but seeing the magnitude of what was happening, they took to the airwaves to become the Christian voice to a nation who couldn’t take their eyes off the screen. From September 11 to 14, the staff of CTVN produced over 40 hours of live television – 10-12 hours each day – bringing hope, encouragement, and prayer to hurting people.
Many other Christian stations and networks, ill-equipped to cover the situation – yet not wanting to continue with business as usual – cut their own feeds and began showing CTVN’s broadcast across the country. In many ways, CTVN became the light of hope in America’s darkest hour.
Three people who were in CTVN’s studios that day are now a part of the Infinity Concepts team & each recounted what it was like during those four days of crisis broadcasting.
2001: Assistant to the Programming Director, Cornerstone Television
2011: Media Director, Infinity Concepts
Christian television was not the best place to go for breaking news. We simply did not have the staff, equipment, or other capabilities to react to events in a timely enough manner to really make an impact. But, because of the nature of the event, the one thing our network could offer, that other stations covering the event could not, was hope in Christ.
When we went on the air live, pre-empting regular programming, our show was all about prayer and encouragement and where the real answers lie when these kinds of things happen in the world. We were able to secure live footage of the disaster. We contacted major ministries and had well-known spokespersons on the air live, giving their perspective on the events and offering prayer for the viewers and the families of the victims. We saw that we could make a difference … now.
2001: Webmaster, Cornerstone Television
2011: Information Systems Manager, Infinity Concepts
I hadn’t seen any news the morning of 9/11 until I got to work at CTVN and saw co-workers watching a TV in one of the offices. There were lots of questions about what happened, but like many, we assumed it was an accident. Seeing a second plane hit the towers quickly changed those thoughts. The whole studio crew that morning was made up of those, like me, who used to work in the studio full-time, but who had since moved to other roles at the station. I don’t remember feeling a lot of emotion about the actual events initially because my mind was focused on the work we were doing. But I remember feeling proud of the work we did that day. We weren’t a news station, but everyone worked as a team and produced a quality news and ministry show different from any other station in the country.
2001: Vice President, Cornerstone Television
2011: President/CEO, Infinity Concepts
Things happened quickly that morning. In a matter of minutes we were on the air… and in a matter of hours our conference room was transformed into a strategic command center with pictures, maps, leads, names, and plans posted to every wall; office workers became reporters; the entire staff became a cohesive team – willing to do whatever it took, and CTVN became a station that provided a unique blend of breaking news and everlasting hope! Viewers, confused and fearful, flooded our prayer lines as Christian leaders from the around the country were interviewed and asked to offer words of encouragement on the air. That day CTVN became a beacon of hope and faith to the nation. Lives were forever changed by a group of willing servants who obeyed the voice of God. It was the most significant program I ever produced and hosted during my career in television.
In the months and years that followed, CTVN also became a catalyst that changed the face of Christian television around the world. As a result of our work on 9/11 and through cooperation with the National Religious Broadcasters and the Christian Broadcasting Network, the Global News Alliance was formed. This alliance of Christian videographers and producers around the world now provides Christian broadcasters free access to global news footage – opening the door for Christian producers and programmers to speak to issues in a more timely and effective way.
Everyday we are honored to work with people involved in Christian broadcasting. We get to see that, in many ways, our clients are doing exactly what CTVN did during those four historic days: using the airwaves to offer hope in Christ to a world filled with darkness and despair.
We feel privileged to work alongside men and women, known and unknown, great and small, who are all deeply committed to reaching out to a lost and dying world with the message of faith, hope, and unconditional love.
Written by Lauren Wolcott & George Konetes
Special thanks to contributions by Mark Dreistadt, Lee Shaeffer, & Paul McDonald