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For NPR's 50th: A Listener Riveted by Earthquake 6000 Miles Away

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

With this program marking 50 years on the air today, listeners shared moments they heard here that stuck with them.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

For Canice Flanagan of San Francisco, one such moment was in May 2008.

CANICE FLANAGAN: I remember listening to this and just saying to my boss, you won't believe what I just heard on the radio.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

MELISSA BLOCK: What's going on? The whole building is shaking. The whole building is shaking.

FLANAGAN: In the midst of otherwise fairly ordinary interview, all of a sudden, that earthquake struck.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

BLOCK: Oh, my goodness. We're in the middle of an earthquake. The top of the church is falling down.

FLANAGAN: She's like, the building is shaking, goodness (laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

BLOCK: The ground is shaking underneath our feet, and all the people are running out in the street.

CHANG: Host Melissa Block had been sent to Chengdu, China, to report. And as she was recording an interview, she found herself capturing a major tragedy - an earthquake that killed over 69,000 people in Sichuan province. Canice Flanagan still cannot get the reporting of that first moment out of her mind.

FLANAGAN: To hear Melissa Block go from questions about the business, the environment, that the - changes to the ground is moving, the building is moving, the church across the street is falling. The step by step of what she was observing was riveting.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

BLOCK: As we're standing here, birds are flying. The ground is undulating under my feet.

FLANAGAN: I've lived in San Francisco all my life. I've been in earthquakes. I was in Loma Prieta. And the ability to stay focused and measured was just astounding. However many years later, I still say to people, did you hear that report on NPR?

CORNISH: Listener Canice Flanagan and the story she'll never forget from her 26 years listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED - Melissa Block's reporting from the midst of an earthquake in Chengdu, China.

(SOUNDBITE OF DON VOEGLI'S "VARIATION ON THE ALL THINGS CONSIDERED THEME") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.