December 17, 2015 — Emmett B. Kitchen Jr. (Jay), 70, died this week in his Palm Island, Florida, home after an extended battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Jay was president and CEO of the Personal Communications Industry Association (PCIA) from 1994 to 2004. Before that he was CEO of the National Association of Business and Educational Radio (NABER), which merged with PCIA in 1994. Jay graduated from Virginia Technological University with a degree in Electrical Engineering and began his career in the public sector at the FCC where he served as a wireless telecom policy adviser.
Jonathan Adelstein, president and CEO of PCIA – The Wireless Infrastructure Association, paid tribute to Jay, saying that he played an “instrumental role in shaping the modern voice of the wireless industry in Washington.”
“Under his watch, PCIA established itself as a leading organization representing companies that build, operate and own the nation’s vital wireless infrastructure,” Adelstein said. “His tireless work and dedication to this association and the entire wireless sector deserves the utmost respect and appreciation.”
Mark E. Crosby, president of the Enterprise Wireless Alliance, competed with Jay during his tenure at the NABER and then at PCIA for frequency coordination business.
“We were fierce competitors but at the same time very good friends. I will miss Jay,” Crosby said. “More often than not, we worked together on the critical issues that the land mobile radio community faced.”
Wireless consultant and researcher Andrew Seybold tweeted that Jay was “a true leader in the world of land mobile radio and wireless. He will be missed!”
Jay was very helpful to members of the press, always taking calls and making time to explain his association’s positions. Don Bishop, executive editor and associate publisher of AGL magazine, described Jay’s leadership style as “calm, competent and reflective.”
“When NABER merged with PCIA, Jay took charge of a large number of membership sections,” Bishop said. “I was very impressed with his organizational ability.”
I was a reporter who was new to Washington, D.C., and new to the wireless industry in 1989 when I met Jay. He became one of my first sources. I experienced him as a warm, caring individual who would always take time to teach me about radio, the industry and FCC regulation. His self-deprecating humor always made me feel at ease and he became a true friend.
A good association head is equal parts politician, impresario, visionary, manager and ambassador for the industry. As for myself, I can attest that Jay made me want to be a part of the wireless industry community, and 26 years later I am still grateful.