New ARRL CEO appointed. I am cautious

The CEO choice has been a controversial topic among board governance matters. The last CEO who resigned (and blamed the tax law) had numerous issues, which we will touch on in a bit. I can therefore understand the apprehension of watchful ARRL members who want to ensure that we get a CEO who not only is a good CEO but is also a good steward of the ARRL, and who is also invested in Amateur Radio.

Note that when I mean "invested in Amateur Radio" I do not mean that someone has to have several hundred thousand dollars in ham equipment and an antenna farm to rival K3LR. What I do mean is that I personally want someone who knows the hobby, its participants and is at least somewhat active. This way she/he knows the issues on the ground and can relate to member concerns. Two examples come to mind - GM and the USPS. Both of these have CEOs who worked in the lower levels of the organization and who know how it runs. They therefore know what the effect of their decisions made. That is all. It's not about DXing and contesting, a favored punching bag by some on the board. It's about being effective by having a personal stake in what they are governing.

I would have to say that being a relative unknown was a major problem with Gallagher. Yes, there are some who knew him but most did not, at least before he became CEO. Dave Sumner did not have that issue. With that said, it may surprise some to know that it wasn't my major problem with him.

My major issue was one of tone. The "Myth Busting" editorial that he authored for QST struck me as very dismissive of the concerns of the membership, and I felt it could have been handled better. It also signaled a clear direction of a corporate ARRL. Sure, "Wall Street finance guys" may come off that way, lord alone knows how many I've worked with, but when addressing people who are your organization, your customer base, your membership, you can't simply blow them off. There are only a few CEOs who can do that, and I'd say that if your last name isn't Jobs or Musk that you aren't whom I'm talking about.

ANYWAY, we now have a new CEO. His name is Howard Michel, callsign WB2ITX. On paper his qualifications seem impressive. That doesn't mean I'm giving him a pass. I am giving him a chance to prove himself. I do respect the fact that he has seemingly solid business credentials, and is a USAF vet. He's also a former President of IEEE, an organization which I thoroughly respect, being a former member myself. At first glance it looked like the board is listening to us.

But if you look at the press release, it  is very carefully worded and doesn't tell the whole story. For starters, it claims that "some of his favorite activities include attending hamfests to find old stuff to repair or repurpose, contest operating, and DXing, especially on 80/40 meters." Again, we go back to the Gallagher problem. Searches on the DX cluster come up empty, nothing in 3830 or any contest results. He doesn't even have a basic DXCC award with 100 countries. Being a contester or DXer is not a pre-requisite for the CEO job, but I think that the press release was embellished a little, probably to appease some of us. If this was deliberate, shame on whoever thought of that. 

That said, I'm giving him a fair shot, and when I'm elected director I hope to learn more about him. I definitely hope that he projects a better tone to the membership and listens to us. Otherwise, they'll have to find another thing to blame for yet another hasty exit from Newington.


  1. Well said, Ria. I think KB6NU needs to get him on a podcast, and answer some questions we all have.

  2. Hi to all! What is missing and much needed is his people skills to run the 90 people head count at Newington. Management and people skills. He beat me out so lets give him a chance. I say another two years- maybe. Much luck to the good professor. De KA1S, Moe

    1. Hi Moe,

      I’m willing to give him a fair shake. Let him prove himself. I’m not going to simply oppose him for the sake of opposition. However I have serious concerns about how he was represented by the board, particularly with regard to his amateur radio involvement. That’s not to say he isn’t a “real” ham but he’s not a real active one. Not so much the contesting and DXing part buy his QRZ lookups were close to zero before the announcement


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