Altus will have two representatives at National Security Forum: David Harrison and David Webb
When Mayor David Webb was chosen to attend The National Security Forum at Maxwell Air Force Base, the odds were impressive. Out of only 120 civilian leaders chosen to attend the NSF in the whole U.S., a representative being from Altus was almost astronomical. Now Altus will have a second representative. David Harrison, General Manager of KWHW and KQ-106 radio stations, has been chosen to attend this unique conference, May 7 through 11. The Altus Times conducted an interview with Harrison regarding the event.
Altus Times: During the years you’ve been in Altus, what has been your impression on the relationship between the community and Altus Air Force Base?
David Harrison: Evidenced by the success of the Quail Breakfast over 50 years, Altus has a very warm , collaborative and appreciative relationship with AAFB.
AT: How do you currently see Altus and surrounding areas working with AAFB concerning safety or security issues?
DH: Those professionally involved in safety and security issues do a fine job. But community awareness and open communication involving every citizen is key to a safe and secure environment for us all.
AT: The National Security Forum provides a unique exchange of information between leaders business, education and government sectors. Out of only 120 leaders eligible for this honor, both you and Mayor David Webb have been chosen to attend this forum. Why do you feel that a fairly small town such as Altus has been chosen to have such good representation at this conference?
DH: I believe the civilian/military relationship in Altus has sent a message to those on the national level that might be a model for other communities where there are bases.
AT: When the events of 9/11 happened, General Peterson, then Altus Air Force Base commander, told this reporter he’d much rather be too careful than to see AAFB reduced to a “big smoking hole”. He visualized that terrorism could indeed happen, even here. Part of Timothy McVeigh’s reason he chose Oklahoma City to bomb was because he wished to wound the nation’s “heartland”. What are your views of relating to broadcast media and safety and security here in the Altus area?
DH: My attraction in coming to Altus was the “community” strength of influence that KWHW AM/FM enjoys. That also carries great responsibility. We are the Emergency Alert System (EAS) “Hub” for the region. We take that responsibility very seriously, and invest a lot of resources to maintain the public confidence in that regard. Many media outlets have shed that active engagement and I believe communities away from ours are weaker for it.
AT: Have the events of 9/11 changed policies or procedures for you and your station here?
DH: Because of 9/11 I think many security measures were put in place for all media. We will be updating our EAS equipment again this year. New media technology changes can be somewhat inconvenient, but in a crisis situation we are all better off having current helpful information instantly available to us.
AT: Oklahomans have literally weathered many a storm, man made or natural. Whether we are Midwesterners or Southerners, what characteristics do you see in our citizens contributing to dealing with national or international security issues?
DH: I believe there was once a time when citizens trusted government, media and community leaders to take care of such matters as national and international security- as effected their daily lives. Events of the recent past and real time news event reporting has made that responsibility one that has become very personal. Faith, community and patriotism are now personally and actively connected with each individual. Oklahomans have had a deep tradition in these areas before the bombings at the Edward R. Murrow building and the Twin Towers. I believe it is that strength of character that carried this community through the ice storm, and other calamities that have befallen our area.
In response to having been chosen to attend the NSF, Harrison said, “I am honored to have been selected to this National Security Forum. I hope to learn much and contribute what I can; and share my experience with our KWHW AM/FM listeners in the days that follow.