Washington remembers FCC Commissioner Jim Quello


The National Association of Broadcasters declared the industry to officially be in mourning over the passing of former FCC Commissioner Jim Quello, and numerous others added their remembrances.

* From the NAB Joint Board: It is hereby resolved this day by the Joint Board of the National Association of Broadcasters that NAB and all broadcasters mourn the passing of a truly great American, James H. Quello. Jim Quello was himself a great broadcaster who answered the call of his country as a war hero in World War II, and through more than two decades of service on the Federal Communications Commission as a Commissioner and Chairman. NAB is grateful for Jim Quello’s unwavering support for free and local broadcasting and applaud his bipartisan approach to public policy debates. We have lost a true friend.

* From FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski: It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of former Commissioner Jim Quello. Jim was a friend and a beloved Commissioner of this agency for more than two decades. Known as the ‘Dean’ of the FCC — and ‘Boss’ to the many staffers who worked for him — he was a role model to generations of FCC employees and advocates for his decency, personal charm, and commitment to his work. He leaves behind an extraordinary legacy of service to the FCC, the communications industry, and the American people. Commissioner Quello’s long life was packed with accomplishment. He was born April 21, 1914, in Laurium, Michigan — eleven years before the first public demonstration of television and two decades before the creation of the FCC. He served his country with great valor and distinction in World War II, surviving six amphibious landings and earning multiple decorations and campaign ribbons. He spent his first career as a broadcaster, finding ways to serve local communities in the early days of the medium. And he went on to serve the FCC as Commissioner from 1974 until 1997, receiving numerous honors and earning widespread respect and affection. On behalf of the FCC and its past and present staff, I extend condolences to Jim’s family, and offer our prayers, thoughts, and sympathies during this time of loss.

* Former FCC Chairman Michael Powell: Former FCC Chairman Jim Quello has left our world, but he left it better for having impacted the lives of so many. Jim was the lion of the communications industry. His strength and courage were born from his years as an infantry commander in World War II (a story he never failed to tell). He was the paradigmatic public servant, having walked away from the opportunity for great personal wealth, he chose to take his reward in pursuing the public interest. His wit and wisdom made you proud to be in the fraternity of communication practitioners. He was loved and adored and we will deeply miss his counsel, his humor and his unflinching friendship.

* Commissioner Michael Copps: You can tell a lot about how a person lived by the way he or she dies. Jim Quello died with grace, confidence, a calm spirit, and pride in a life well lived. I visited with him Friday and, albeit weaker, he was alert. Good-spirited, and still talking about issues and about the Commission he loved so much and served so long, so well. Jim’s tenure at the FCC, particularly his Chairmanship, drew the best from people because he gave them his best back. He empowered people and they loved him for it. Warrior, broadcaster, public servant–wherever he served, Jim gave it his all and, when he left his various posts, he left them better than he found them. We won’t be seeing another Jim Quello. I am proud of the friendship Jim and I developed. God rest his soul.”

* Commissioner Robert McDowell: It is with a heavy heart that I reflect on the passing of my friend, Jim Quello, who served for more than twenty-three years on the Federal Communications Commission. As a young attorney new to communications law in the early 1990s, I first encountered Jim from afar as one of many who watched, and grew to admire, the collegiality and openness he brought to his role as Acting Chairman. Later, it was a true pleasure to get to know Jim during my own tenure at the FCC. He was an endearing figure who demonstrated his kindness and thoughtfulness by reaching out to mentor many of us who have entered these doors over the years. Jim personified the best attributes of America’s “Greatest Generation.” Prevailing over the hardships brought about by the Great Depression, without hesitation he risked his own life in the struggle to defeat fascism in Europe during World War II. In peacetime, he helped build Michigan’s broadcasting industry before being asked to serve his country once more on the FCC. I send my deepest sympathy and warm thoughts to his family. His indomitable spirit, colorful sense of humor, bipartisanship, and commitment to public service will never be forgotten.

* Commissioner Mignon Clyburn: I almost missed meeting Commissioner Jim Quello last month. I drove up and down Army Navy Drive for almost 30 minutes searching for his annual holiday party. Lost and frustrated, I was just about to call it quits when finally I arrived. As I walked into the room, I was reminded of some of those larger-than-life stories I have often heard about the Commissioner. Quite frankly, they made me fairly anxious about meeting him. But once we were introduced, my uneasiness quickly transformed into a peaceful admiration. He acknowledged his health challenges, but before long I became convinced that I would still be dancing with him at his 100th birthday celebration. Sadly, that will not come to pass. I will always cherish, however, the memory of our brief time together. Others have known him longer. Many have shared incredible stories that bring laughter and an understanding that unfortunately I will never share. But my one encounter with Jim Quello has inspired me to continue my quest to be a bold, dedicated public servant. And for that, I will remain forever grateful.