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"We're trying to gravitate toward the soulful and meaningful."
——MTV's Tom Calderone
THE MUSIC MEDIA OBSERVE
A HISTORIC OCCASION
MTV, VH1 and RollingStone.com Face the Challenge of Coming Up With Content for
the Anniversary of 9/11
Just as everyone in the suddenly self-conscious sports and entertainment media had struggled with the challenge of what tone to take and what, if anything, to say in the hours and days following the horrible events of 9/11/01, we found ourselves daunted once again as the anniversary approached. If you’ve had the radio or TV on today or gone online, you’ve inevitably witnessed the results of these struggles. Here’s what some of the major music-oriented entities are doing:

MTV is playing life-affirming videos, some obvious (Marley, U2), some unexpected (TLC's "Waterfalls," 2Pac's "Keep Ya Head Up"), with a "September Eleventh/MTV" square on the lower right of the screen. Bumpers between clips are reflective sound bites from a disparate array of people, most of them New Yorkers, followed by the line, "Looking back, moving ahead." Thematic news segments have been popping up as well. The channel has been commercial-free all day. "We're trying to gravitate toward the soulful and meaningful," MTV SVP Music and Talent Programming Tom Calderone explained in an AP story.

MTV.com has some parallel features, including a message board with characteristically poignant posts. In one, Brendan of Pearl River, NY, writes: "I went to see U2 at Madison Square Garden on October 27. As soon as they broke into 'One,' we all read the screen as names of family, friends, and acquaintances reminded us all that these were real people taken from us for no reason whatsoever. I'll tell you, there were 20,000 people who carried each other that night."

VH1 is taking more of a business-as-usual approach to video selection, heavy on current clips (Nelly, Pink, Darius Rucker), sprinkled with thematically apt videos from the likes of Bruce Springsteen and U2, along with performances from last October’s The Concert for New York City. We’ve seen no commentary, and the channel is running commercials. Tonight’s prime time will be taken up with a repeat showing of The Concert for New York City.

The homepage of RollingStone.com has commentary from a dozen artists, including Bruce, Moby and the Beastie BoysAdam Yauch, along with photos and reports from 9/11/01, a readers' message board and a lengthy editorial from Jan Wenner that urges the U.S. to act with a greater understanding of the issues than the government has thus far evidenced.

"It may make us feel better to refer to these people as 'madmen' and 'cowards,'" Wenner writes, "but as horrific as their actions are, this is what they most assuredly are not. They are not cave-dwelling animals. These are people who sacrifice their lives for what they think is righteous (which is generally how we might define courage). They are on a long-term mission and have grievances that we ignore at our own risk."

Meanwhile, on ESPN nationally and Fox Sports Net 2 here in SoCal, life goes on as the Dodgers beat the Giants 7-3 to move back into a tie for the NL wild card. We chose to have the game on in the office and, quite frankly, took great comfort in it.

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