Reaction throughout the highest levels within the cable industry's technical community might have been similar last month when Wendell Bailey, the National Cable Television Association's venerable VP of science and technology, parted from the Washington-based lobbying organization after 16-plus years.
Since 1981, Bailey has arguably been the industry's most valuable player, working in conjunction with engineers and CEOs alike to develop techno-political strategies in the face of growing competition, increasing governmental scrutiny and interference from more special-interest groups than ever.
Wendell, as he is known to nearly everyone, will forever be known as the dynamic, diplomatic force that helped guide the technical community through the industry's largest growth phase. He was there when the industry was regulated, then deregulated, re-regulated and deregulated again. He was the key figure who hammered out technical standards with representatives of the cities. He, along with Dr. Walt Ciciora, worked tirelessly to improve the oft-strained relationship with the Electronic Industries Association. He attended countless meetings with the Federal Communications Commission as well as members of Congress, arguing the MSOs' viewpoint on complex, and contentious, technical issues.
And if that wasn't enough, Wendell's leadership was invaluable to the success of this magazine. He was already chairman of CED's Board of Consulting Engineers when I came to this publication 11 years ago, and since then, has worked tirelessly to improve the product. Never one to sugar-coat anything, Wendell didn't always tell you what you wanted to hear, but he always had the guts to tell you what you needed to know.
I still recall some tough meetings several years ago, when it was Wendell's opinion that some of our stories were missing the mark. Those are tough words to take, but they were delivered in the spirit of constructive criticism. Wendell took his role of chairman quite seriously, urging us to inquire, understand and get the facts straight.
No, Wendell didn't bat 1.000, but he finished his long career with more homers than strike-outs. Not even the Babe can boast that. Wendell, we'll miss your wit, your wisdom and your vigor. It may sound cliche, but I'll risk it: You might be replaced, but you'll never be equaled.
Contact Roger via e-mail at: RBrowner@aol.com