ARRL Stumbles

Whatever the reason, and whether members ever hear the truth about it, this is a massive failure for ARRL.

The practically new ARRL CEO has been shown the (revolving) door. According to the terse announcement from Newington:

At its meeting this weekend, the ARRL Board of Directors did not elect Howard Michel, WB2ITX, as the ARRL Chief Executive Officer. Beginning Monday, January 20, Barry Shelley, N1VXY, will become interim CEO. Mr. Shelley was ARRL’s Chief Financial Officer for 28 years and CEO during 2018 before his retirement. The board has created a search committee to select the next CEO. More details on this and other matters which took place at the board meeting will be released shortly.

This one will be difficult, if not impossible, for the ARRL to explain to members. If it was a personnel issue we will never hear it as those are not disclosed. If it was a lack of confidence by the BoD for the CEO’s bold new direction, then there’s so much uncomfortable explaining to do that no one at HQ will be likely to do that either.

It’s no secret that members have been generally impressed with the new direction proposed during Michel’s short tenure to grow the organization by enhancing member services. Apparently, he’s also been busy trying to mend rifts between the crusty old dudes (who members won’t stop electing) and newer Board members who have ascended out of growing member frustration.

Whatever the reason, and whether members ever hear the truth about it, this is a massive failure for ARRL. Particularly, for the Board of Directors who only recently were “shaken up” and mandated to “fix” the many problems facing a century-old organization that appears to be shrinking right in front of a great cloud of witnesses. 

9 replies on “ARRL Stumbles”

I honestly don’t think the ARRL board realizes how bad this makes them look. Just when you thought they might be getting back on track, they decided to step back into the sh*t again.

As far as getting more information, don’t hold your breath. I emailed Rick, K5UR, the ARRL president if a more complete explanation would be forthcoming and he curtly replied, “No, Dan, since this is a personnel matter.”

It is a shame that the ARRL is again doing through leadership transitions in an upheaval.

As they didn’t have their act together for a proper press release (it is likely still in legal review) and the outgoing CEO hasn’t been asked to cover the organization’s needs during a replacement search, the reasons must be pretty important,

We may never know what the reasons are, and they may not be anything like our imaginations lead us to make up in our own minds (I’ve seen key people replaced on a decisive basis for all sorts of reasons ranging from “really bad issues” to absolutely normal but inconveniently timed life issues.)

Unless one party or the other provides a reason, it is just speculation.

The very non-speculative part is that the ARRL leadership is in an interim’s hands at a time where many members were anticipating the overtures to modernize to produce real results.

From my point I’m wishing outgoing CEO WB2ITX every success and extending a tahnk you for his service, and wishing interim CEO N1VXY success in leading our organization through another challenging transition.

In the end it will all work out.


K9ZW (ARRL Life Member)


I agree wholeheartedly of your assessment. Disappointment in hearing the news is an understatement to me.

I’m surprised ARRL didn’t have a statement prepared ahead of this news hitting the streets, and instead is awaiting the approval of the meeting minutes and they publish a five sentence article on the website. Regardless of whatever the story behind the scenes may be, this lack of a detailed and thoughtful statement in and of itself makes a statement. I don’t think the Board understands how bad the optics are to the membership and radio amateurs in general. The article leaves me with a sense of “business as usual” in Newington, and it’s none of your business.

Regretful ARRL Life Member

What can we take away from what is released so far?

1) the outcome was not highly anticipated
2) there are promises of more information, but later
3) the staff had no contingency briefings that met board approval ready to go

We know nothing apparently about the reason why.

The other big news is that regardless of why, the ARRL will be recruiting and we as members will see another change in leadership.




It is difficult to exaggerate how disruptive (distractive) this will be if it was a turf battle over direction. The only way the board comes out of this we’ll regarded is if the ex CEO stepped on his own.

Our venerated organization is in serious need of a reset. Ask yourself, why are only something like 1/4 of US licensed Hams members. That, ladies are gentleman, is the $200,000 question….

It is awesome that our ARRL Board members didn’t shirk their responsibilities when a change was needed.

I really do not understand the “needs a reset” and that the board would in any way be in disrupt for doing what we as members elected them to do.

If WB2ITX wasn’t OUR organization needed, we have to trust the ARRL Board to use its prerogative to not renew WB2ITX. We can’t ask the board to look after our interests and then second guess them when they actually do it.

On a personal level if anyone feels differently I challenge them to get involved and hopefully serve their time on the board.

We may never know the reasons WB2ITX wasn’t renewed, given that getting lost in retrospective armchair quarterbacking holds us back from finding our next leader we perhaps shouldn’t even stop for such narcissism.

I am personally all for NOT considering this a case of spilled milk, but rather a clear statement by the ARRL Board that we’re going to have another change.

Now it is time to get on with that change and I’m behind the great folk we have serving on our behalf to make that change happen!



The problem is that the BoD selected Michel. You can’t say he wasn’t the right guy for the job or that the last selection process was flawed without that being a BoD problem. If they couldn’t pick the right one then how will they pick another now? While I don’t expect perfection, and any decision involving people can go sideways, I have zero confidence that this board will make a better selection. In fact, just the opposite. Having blown it so publicly I expect the next CEO will be ultra-conservative and bring nothing to the game that fundamentally changes the future of the organization. They will over compensate in order to keep things on an even keel. Stability is great if you assume the ARRL is firing on all cylinders. Big changes are necessary if you believe otherwise.

And all that *assumes* that the problem was that of WB2ITX and not some grizzled board members who don’t want change. We still don’t know and I don’t buy the theory that he was still working for his old company. Until or unless that comes out in a news release that’s just a fake news rumor to me…

For me the bottom line is this: if you believe that your Director is the “good” one and the others are the problem then you’re the problem. ARRL members need to refuse to vote for any incumbent in the next election – if we really want change. If we don’t, then let’s stick with the status quo and ride this sucker into its grave a couple of decades from now and not spend another minute worrying about it.

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