James H. Quello, former commissioner and interim chairman of the Federal
Communications Commission, died Jan. 25 of heart and kidney failure at his home in Alexandria, Va. He was 95 and surrounded by family.
Quello., who served on the commission for more than 23 years, had most recently been a public policy consultant for Wiley Rein, working alongside another former FCC Chairman, Richard Wiley.
Quello, the informal dean of the commission, joined the body in 1974 and was named interim chairman in 1994, retiring in 1997. While a commissioner, Quello was best known as a strong defender of free, over-the-air broadcasting.
But while he exited the commission in 1997, Quello kept his hand in the business and policy that had been his life. As recently as last fall Quello, a Democratic appointee, joined with former Democratic Chairman Newton Minow and Republican Chairman Mark Fowler to criticize the FCC's indecency crackdown.
He was a World War II veteran (battalion commander in France and Germany), the former VP and station manager of WJR Detroit, and a VP for that station's parent company, Capital Cities Broadcasting. He also briefly worked as a stringer for Variety while in Detroit.
Quello is a past president of the Michigan Association of Broadcasters and recipient of its lifetime achievement award.
In 1995, he was named to Broadcasting & Cable's Hall of Fame and received the National Association of Broadcasters Distinguished service award in 1994. He was also the founder and chairman of the board of the James H. and Mary B. Quello Center for Telecommunication Management and Law, Michigan State University, his alma mater.
Survivors include his sons, James M. and Richard B. Quello, his wife, Kim, granddaughters Susan Butler Quello and Diane Watson, and a great granddaughter, Bethany Watson.
Arrangements are pending, but interment will be held at Arlington National Cemetery.