WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show to Mark the Pandemic’s Anniversary with a Reading of Names of New Yorkers who lost their lives to COVID
Tuesday, March 16 at 10am on WNYC 93.9 FM, AM 820 and wnyc.org
In addition, “WNYC’s 2020 Time Capsule,” an oral history of New York’s pandemic journey as told through listener voices, to be placed next to WNYC’s antenna at the top of the Empire State Building on Thursday, March 18
(NEW YORK — March 5, 2021) — New York was hit early and hard by the pandemic, and during those first bewildering days and weeks, WNYC’s call-in news program The Brian Lehrer Show was a life raft for New Yorkers seeking information, answers, and companionship. Described by the New York Times as “equal parts civic treasure and municipal therapist,” Brian Lehrer holds a unique place in the heart of the city. Over the past year, his show has tracked our collective journey through this unthinkable time, during which nearly 30,000 of our neighbors, friends, family, and co-workers have perished due to COVID.
To commemorate the one year anniversary of the shutdown that forever altered New York City as we knew it, The Brian Lehrer Show is planning two special events:
“READING THEIR NAMES”: On Tuesday, March 16 at 10am ET — the anniversary of the day NYC public schools first closed and of Brian’s first broadcast from home — the show will devote 90 uninterrupted minutes to 484 listeners who will read the names of 1,780 people in our listening region who have died from the virus.
This list, adapted from TheCity.nyc’s compilation of names, will bring voice to the tragedy of COVID. While the reading will not be comprehensive, this public remembrance will serve as a way for New Yorkers to hold space for one another, and to remember those whose passing may have never appeared in an obituary or news headline. The 90-minute reading will be followed by a conversation led by Brian, discussing community rituals and community grief with callers.
“WNYC’S 2020 TIME CAPSULE”: Since December, The Brian Lehrer Show has been assembling a 2020 time capsule to capture and remember this year through the voices of New Yorkers who called into the show. The capsule will serve as a repository of listener calls, news reports, and personal submissions by New Yorkers sharing what they have been through this year and what they hope will come next. The capsule will be saved on a harddrive to be safely stored alongside our transmitter atop the Empire State Building. This act, to be broadcast live on WNYC on Thursday, March 18, will be cracked open by those of us still here in 2031.
New Yorkers have one more week to submit their own stories here before the time capsule is stored away.
“Individual stories of grief abound, but our city has endured a collective grief too, for neighbors who have died, businesses that have closed, and for the significant impacts on our cultural and economic landscape,” said Brian Lehrer. “With the reading of the names we will remember those lives lost; and with the time capsule, we hope to provide an audio record of what we’ve been through, what we’ve learned, and our hopes and dreams for the future.”
With an urban vibrancy and a global perspective, WNYC is New York’s public radio station, broadcasting and streaming award-winning journalism, groundbreaking audio programming and essential talk radio to the city and beyond. WNYC is a leading member station of NPR and broadcasts programs from the BBC World Service, along with a roster of WNYC-produced local programs that champion the stories and spirit of New York City and the surrounding region. From its state-of-the-art studios, WNYC is reshaping audio for a new generation of listeners, producing some of the most beloved nationally-syndicated public radio programs including Radiolab, On the Media, The New Yorker Radio Hour, and The Takeaway. WNYC broadcasts on 93.9 FM and AM 820 to listeners in New York and the tri-state area, and is available to audiences everywhere at WNYC.org, the WNYC app and through major digital radio services, all made possible through the generous support of our members, donors and sponsors.