Sometimes I'm a bit embarrassed by what we have to report as "news". One example the past few days has been the near panicked response of people here in the Fox Valley to routine flights of military aircraft over our cities.
Last Sunday's flyover of four F-16 fighters in Appleton was a pretty cool tribute to a World War II veteran who flew hundreds of missions in the Pacific Theater. But instead of everyone asking "Wow, who was that guy and what kind of experiences did he have in the war?" The only question everybody had was "WHY WASN'T I TOLD THIS WAS GOING TO HAPPEN?!?!?!" To be frank, you weren't told because it's really none of you business.
And then you get Outagamie County Exectutive Tom Nelson jumping in saying that he and all law enforcement must be informed of any such flyovers in the future. Why? So they can send out press releases on their official letterhead "warning" people about something that poses no threat to public safety and will not inconvenience them in any way? For me, the heads up would only be needed to let me know what time to be outside to watch that fantastic tribute.
And then--as luck would have it--the Air National Guard was back a few days later for a training exercise over the Fox Valley--and the phone lines lit up again. "WHY ARE THERE FIGHTER JETS IN THE SKY? ARE WE BEING ATTACKED?!?!?!?!" And again, public safety officials and we in the media have to explain something that is routine. Air National Guard pilots need to train in their aircraft the techniques that they will use in a real-world threat situation. And they have been granted permission to use the skies above our cities to do that. I can still remember the Oshkosh Common Council meeting where the Guard was given permission to use the city as "target practice" for simulated bombing runs. If you may need to bomb a city somewhere else some day--you need to practice on the cities closer to home.
Let me assure you that if something is happening that would require our military fighters and bombers to be used in a live-fire defensive--or heaven forbid, offensive--situation, we here on the radio and the TV stations will almost certainly have information on what's going on. So you can turn us on before going to the phone to call 911 because there are planes in the air. If all you hear is routine talk radio or Big Bang Theory reruns, you can probably rest assured that missles will not be raining down upon your city anytime soon. And you can save your calls for real emergencies--like they got your order wrong in the drive-thru at McDonalds.