Ron Rackley

Reports yesterday brought sad news of the passing of consulting engineer Ron Rackley. If you’ve listened to AM, you’ve benefited from his work.

In 1985 I knew Ron through the consulting firm I was working for in the Midwest. I’d expressed interest in joining one of the D.C.-area broadcast consulting firms and Ron happened to know of an opening at Jules Cohen & Associates. He made the connection and I was on my way to D.C. I didn’t have housing lined up — I didn’t know the area much at all — but Ron told me not to worry, I could stay with him for a while at his home in suburban Washington, which I did for several months.

After a couple of years, I took a position at A.D. Ring & Associates. Soon after that A.D. Ring merged with du Treil-Rackley to form du Treil, Lundin & Rackley. Ron was now my boss. I was fortunate to benefit first-hand from Ron’s professional guidance and expertise, especially in AM engineering. This included accompanying him on several field trips to learn more about AM antenna measurement and adjustment. I think many areas of broadcast engineering combine art and science, with AM having the highest percentage of art. Ron excelled at both. I learned a lot and remained impressed at how much better he was than anyone else I knew at quickly zeroing in on a solution to whatever the matter was. When I migrated to working on my own in wireless engineering, I’d usually refer the occasional AM inquiry to Ron and his firm.

The AM industry has benefitted immensely from Ron’s important input into FCC rulemaking proceedings, input that goes back decades. I would have looked forward to his comments in future AM proceedings. I think he was always looking to reduce the regulatory burden, and associated costs, on the broadcaster, consistent with sound engineering. In Ron’s absence, broadcast engineers must ramp up their efforts to provide solid, relevant input to the FCC when needed. It would honor Ron’s memory to be most conscientious in doing so.