May 5, 1998
(As prepared for delivery)
Thank you Jay.
I have enjoyed the Bowler Award dinner in past years, but obviously this one is very special to me.
Each year, we single out two or three public servants for special honor. One award is given to an agency employee or a congressional aide who exemplifies Eugene Bowler's commitment to excellence in public service and education in meeting the nation's telecommunications needs.
Having been privileged to serve at the FCC for the past four years, I can tell you that many Commission employees have exhibited the highest standard of diligence, integrity, creativity, efficiency, and competence.
Some maintain such excellence for a prolonged period. A subset do so while shepherding major public policy issues to a successful resolution.
And the list shrinks further when we count only those employees who have done all of these things in areas as diverse as mass media, common carrier, wireless telecommunications, engineering and new technology, and international services. In fact, I think we're down to a class of one -- David Siddall.
The Commission has much to do. Amid the scores of rulemakings and adjudications there are a few proceedings that stand out. Dave Siddall has been intimately involved in many of these historic dockets.
For example, there was:
And before all this, there was his work at the Congressional Research Service, advising people like Lionel Van Deerlin and Barry Goldwater -- and congressional staff like Larry Irving --- on legal issues, during the early part of the Telecomm rewrite era.
What a remarkable career Dave has had! Time after time, when there was something big that had to be done right, Dave Siddall was called upon to play a key role.
Dave understands spectrum in a way that most of us never can. The public has benefitted greatly from the many wise spectrum and other telecommunications decisions to which he has contributed so substantially.
I've been extremely fortunate to have him advising me for the past four years, and am deeply grateful for his hard work, good humor, and keen insights.
How does such a career happen? Dave's success isn't just about being a good lawyer. I think it's rooted in his personal passion for communications, a passion that stretches back for literally 40 years.
I'm sure Dave is not the only kid whose family had a big radio console whose band selector accidentally got switched. But this particular 9-year-old was captivated by listening to the people on the fishing boats talking to their home ports. He tuned the dial and heard the BBC from London -- and began to wonder how the radio signals traveled the Atlantic. He puzzled about why the AM station that he listened to by day in Hyannis was replaced at night by one in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
So he went to the library to learn more, and discovered the world of Popular Electronics; taught himself how to receive amateur radio signals; and learned Morse Code. By the time he was 15, he bought his first ham radio transceiver, and put an antenna up on a gnarled pine tree.
From there, it really wasn't so far to: Using the radio waves to call home from places like Argentina and India; installing a new ham radio system on the roof of the Senate Russell Building; becoming the first American amateur licensed under treaties with Denmark and Spain; and competing in international amateur radio contests -- and winning!
As these examples attest, Dave's accomplishments are unique. But what has made him exceptional as a public servant is how his avocation has contributed so greatly to his vocation.
The drive and determination and curiosity and technical skill that Dave exhibited as an amateur radio operator have all been harnessed, time and again, to help the Commission administer the public airwaves responsibly.
Like the time I called him from Geneva. The call was patched through to his PCS phone. We were halfway through the conversation when I learned that Dave was speaking with me while dangling from his 70-foot ham radio tower in West Virginia. "Don't worry, Commissioner." He quickly assured me. "I have a safety belt on!"
Dave, it is a great pleasure to work with you, and I am honored to present to you the much-deserved 1998 Eugene C. Bowler Award.