MURFREESBORO, TN—Touting itself as "the only channel with a terror-alert system designed to meet the specific needs of central Tennessee," Fox News affiliate WMFB-TV Channel 11 debuted its terror-alert van Monday.
"The team you trust to keep you informed is working to keep the greater Murfreesboro area—and your family—safe from Muslim extremists," said station manager Carl Bogert, unveiling the TerrorFirst! van at a press conference held in the "Terrorist No Zone" in the back parking lot. "When terrorism threatens the people of central Tennessee, Fox 11 is there first. Watch Channel 11 for up-to-the-minute coverage of where, when, and how the enemies of freedom are coming to get you."
Painted red, white, and blue, the TerrorFirst! van is the first mobile unit devoted to monitoring terrorist threats on a local level. The van is equipped with live satellite feeds to and from the Fox News channel, a fax machine prepared to receive alerts from the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, an English-Arabic phrase book for translating any intercepted al-Qaeda correspondence, and a field-issue anthrax-detection kit.
"In a minute's notice, the van can be completely prepped, on the road, and speeding toward any site of terrorist activity within the WMFB broadcast area," Bogert said. "Assuming two attacks don't happen concurrently, of course."
According to Bogert, the TerrorFirst! van features a rooftop satellite dish, a diesel-powered generator in case terrorists take down the Tennessee power grid, emergency snow chains for use in the event of a nuclear winter, a supply of promotional "Fox 11 News…Looking Out For You" T-shirts and bumper stickers, and a gun rack. The van is outfitted with several state-of-the-art monitoring systems, as well.
"TerrorDoppler can detect a dirty-bomb detonation of any significant magnitude from up to 40 miles away," Bogert said. "The van can transmit a map of contaminated areas to the station for broadcast. That way, Fox 11 viewers gain valuable minutes—time which could be used to plan escape routes, call loved ones, and gather survival supplies."
A Fox 11 News promotional spot features footage of the van driving down Murfreesboro thoroughfares while flashing its trademark Terror Alert Warning Light, which informs Murfreesboro citizens of the current Homeland Security Advisory System terror-threat level. The images of the van are juxtaposed with grainy, black-and-white footage of a terrorist—actually WMFB production assistant Fred Fromme clad in a towel and bathrobe—lingering in doorways and back alleys.
The commercial ends with a message from Fox 11 anchor Bob Herlihy: "When terror strikes, don't get left behind. Stay ahead of the game with Fox 11."
Although the only criminal activity the van has uncovered thus far was the illegal dumping of several quarts of used motor oil into the sewer, response from Fox 11 viewers has been overwhelmingly positive.
"When it comes to keeping me and my loved ones safe, Fox 11 is 'on the case!'" said Murfreesboro resident Ed Nelson, expressing his enthusiasm about the new van to a Channel 11 camera crew. "Seeing the Fox News terror-alert van parked in front of the credit union or driving through the Piggly Wiggly parking lot makes me feel secure."
Nelson, who will appear in an upcoming local Channel 11 advertisement, waved his index finger and added: "Fox 11 News is number one in central Tennessee!"
Bogert ended the conference with some tough words for terrorists.
"Terrorists better think twice before targeting the good citizens of the greater Murfreesboro area," Bogert said. "Terrorists, if you're watching, I have one thing to say to you: If you attack, the Fox 11 News team will be on the scene just minutes later."
Though Channel 11 currently has the only anti-terrorism news van in the country, plans are underway to use the concept at Fox affiliates nationwide.