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Imlay Will Retire as SBE General Counsel

Will depart in December; the society will split his duties

Chris Imlay
Chris Imlay

The announcement was made by Wayne Pecena, president of the Society of Broadcast Engineers.

To give you an idea of how deep Imlay’s roots are with the SBE: His first case was to try to appeal the FCC decision to eliminate the First Class Radiotelephone License. He said his SBE role has “allowed me to do what I do best: defending spectrum allocations of clients and participating in technical regulatory proceedings.”

[Read Chris Imlay’s Contributions to Radio World]

“Chris has worked with the SBE since 1980, and has been the SBE’s general counsel since 1991,” the society stated. Pecena called him “a valuable resource for and asset to the SBE over the past 41 years. He has also been a staunch advocate for the SBE’s goals and objectives. He is a tough act to follow.”

The society said it will split Imlay’s duties; it plans a process to find a replacement communications counsel, and also will hire an attorney for business matters based near its headquarters in Indianapolis.

Meanwhile Imlay will continue to work part-time for other long-term clients.

In the announcement, he was quoted describing himself as “a down-in-the-trenches communications lawyer” who loved working with broadcast engineers. And for 37 years until 2018, Imlay also was general counsel for ARRL, the national association for amateur radio; he is former president of the Foundation for Amateur Radio and recently was inducted into the CQ magazine Hall of Fame.

Several commentaries by Chris Imlay have appeared in Radio World in recent years, on topics such as engineer ethics and the idea of broadcasters as “first responders.” Read those here.

SBE said Imlay has worked for 22 SBE presidents and was elected a Fellow of the SBE in 1997.

According to SBE’s summary of his career, Imlay began working in law in 1975 and in communications in 1979 when he joined Booth and Freret.

When SBE sought to administratively appeal the decision to eliminate the First Phone, SBE President Bob Jones retained Bob Booth for the work, and Booth assigned the task to Imlay. The society regained him as communications counsel in 1984 and named him general counsel in 1991.

He was a partner with Booth, Freret and Imlay from 1981 to 1995; president of Booth, Freret, Imlay & Tepper, P.C., from 1995 to 2014; and managing member, Booth, Freret & Imlay, LLC, 2014 to present.

Other clients in federal communications law have included big names like JVCKenwood USA, the National Football League, NASCAR and Goodyear, as well as many TV and radio stations, common carrier and private wireless licensees, as well as video production companies, auto racing sponsors and speedways; and equipment manufacturers.