RCA: A class act
When I received my application to join the Radio Club of America, it was a little intimidating. I was and am a doofus telecom lawyer. I didn’t invent the yagi or figure out the formula for received signal loss. When I hear the words “cavity filter,” I am as likely to think of dentists as I am of combiners.
Sure, I represent people who carry pictures of LMR sites in their wallets. And I have some vague notion of the difference between physics and what the FCC adopts as engineering standards — one is fact and the other is fiction. But me, a Radio Club member?
However, after I joined RCA I found out what a class act the club was. There was a place for guy like me among the movers and shakers of the industry, for someone who passionately believes in one important truth — underneath it all, we’re all wireless guys and gals. We just have different talents to offer.
There are the engineers who make it all work, and work damn well despite the challenges, changes and naysayers. There are the money guys who share the vision with the engineers and find the cash to deploy the newest and best systems that our planet enjoys. They seek a financial end that justifies the wireless engineers’ dreams. And there are the salespeople (including lawyers) who spin the wonders of wireless in ways that still awe the buying public.
Like high school, everybody in the club has something special that you remember when you flip through the class pictures. There’s Kenneth, a nice guy and really good in shop — he could build anything. There’s Sandra, a little wild but loyal as hell and driven to succeed. There’s Vivian, who sold more band candy than anyone and still had time to party every Saturday night. And there’s Bruce, who sat up all night with the prom queen when she had too much to drink and her date had dumped her. He let her know that she was still pretty.
We RCA members all took our budding talents and applied them to the wireless industry. And because we were serious about what we did and the importance of where we were taking this country, we succeeded, but with the humility of knowing that the next generation was going to blow us away. That humility, that knowledge and that excitement brings us together under the Radio Club banner.
Over the years, there have been those who have tried to make the Radio Club more exclusive — a bastion of professional engineers that would huddle together and perfect propagation techniques and bandwidth delivery methods. But those efforts have not been successful because the Radio Club has proven it is much more than a musty think tank. For 100 years, the club has been the place for wireless professionals, whether their talents are words, wires or wonkery, all devoted to a single aim — improving and lauding the radio art.
Fred Link, Richard Somers, Eric Stoll, Carole Perry, David Weisman, Jerry Minter, Stan Rubenstein, Ray Trott, Craig Jorgensen, Mercy Contreras, Mal Gurian, Rich Riechler, Jack Poppele, John Dettra, Marty Cooper, Sandra Black, Frank Gunther and Tony Sabino head the list of faces that drift across the pages of the club’s yearbooks, smiling in the knowledge that their contributions have been rewarded. Their efforts to bring together the best that our industry has to offer has brought forth upon the stage of technical excellence the best that the industry can make and share with our nation.
This year, the RCA celebrates its 100th anniversary. And over the years, the club not only has embraced the “Who’s Who” of the radio industry, but also has broadened its scope by opening its doors to amateurs, P.E.s, publishers, Ph.D.s, inventors, consultants, financiers and broadcasters. And yes, even doofus telecom lawyers like me.
I want to thank the Radio Club for handing me that application so many years ago. I didn’t know then what I know now. The wireless industry isn’t only about the radio art. It’s about the radio heart. That beating muscle of vitality that feeds economic life to millions of Americans, while humbly acknowledging that we just took the ideas of guys named Marconi and Farraday and Armstrong, and made them a little better … a little shinier.
To the Class of 2009, I raise my glass in congratulations and appreciation. To the Class of 2010, I can hardly wait to meet you at the next banquet. We’ve taken the radio art to this level. Now it’s your turn. Just join us and keep the radio heart beating.