Longtime telecom industry analyst Michael Howard passed away last week after a battle with pancreatic cancer, and the industry is mourning the loss of not only a great analyst, but a greater man.
Everyone has a Michael story—his charm, Hollywood good looks and unsurpassed industry expertise elevated everyone around him. Below we share a few memories from the reporters, editors, analysts and PR teams that worked closely with him over the years.
I had known Michael for about a year as a young reporter for Telecommunications Magazine when we both ended up at a small conference in New Mexico bordering the Rio Grande. I had sat with him at dinner the previous night and mentioned that I was going to walk through the woods to see the Rio Grande. The next morning, he was waiting for me in the lobby—to act as my chaperone. “I didn’t know if it was safe for you to go there alone,” he told me. We walked to the river together, chatting happily about nothing. The river was so brown and so underwhelming that we spent just a few minutes there. I expressed my slight disappointment, and he told me that oftentimes the journey is much better than the actual destination. Of course he was right.
Several months (or was it years?) later, at an afterparty at a conference in Boston, his son, Larry, walked me back to my car in a parking garage because he didn’t want me to walk alone. When I told him his Dad had done the same thing earlier, Larry told me he learned from the best. He sure did.
I worked with Michael on many successful projects over the years, yet my best memories of him are of that nurturing and protective person—a trait he passed down to all of his children. My thoughts are with J’Amy, Larry and Kim, and all of the Howards in this difficult time. You are missed, Michael, and the legacy you leave behind is unsurpassed.
— Sue O’Keefe
I have known Michael Howard for so long that I don’t really remember when we started talking, but I think it was when I was editor-in-chief of Telephony back in the mid-90s. He quickly became a go-to source for me, not only because he knew and understood so much about the technology I was covering, but also because Michael ALWAYS took my calls, or called me back quickly. He was often in an airport or a very different time zone. Sometimes I could barely make out what he was saying on his cellphone in a noisy environment, but that didn’t discourage Michael. He would patiently shout his words of wisdom into the phone as many times as necessary.
I remember Michael answered one of my calls but sounded sleepy. It turned out he was in China for an analyst event and it was 2 a.m. I couldn’t believe he’d answered the phone and I apologized profusely but Michael insisted he was fine to talk. And he proceeded to give me some great material.
I spoke to him on the phone for a few years before I met him, finally, at a conference. I was struck by how dapper Michael always appeared and his open, friendly manner. Somehow it didn’t fit that someone so smart and sometimes sharply analytical was also everyone’s best friend, but that was Michael.
At my last MEF event, the month before I retired in 2018, Michael and I played a lively game of “remember this” covering all the technologies we had seen come and go. It was our last conversation and one I still treasure, even though he was much better at it than I was.
My memory of Michael is more of a private one. With both of us having been in the industry for a long time, we ran into each other dozens, if not literally hundreds, of times over the years. In the early years, he was helpful with sage advice for a new analyst—be clear, be accurate, know your facts, express an opinion—then listen. In the mid-term, as I would say, he would mention a comment or report of mine he had seen and would offer his opinion on my insight or work. He was not one to just offer up undeserved accolades and more than once I went back to relook at something. The last several years of interactions, while again brief, were more along the lines of colleagues appreciating our roles in the industry. I was grateful for his advice, and more so, that he saw me as a colleague in the industry. If Michael Howard said you did good work, you know you’ve made it. Rest in Peace, Michael.
If there was one phrase to describe Michael Howard it would be: A kind-hearted man who had unbounded energy. For anyone that covers the telecom industry segment as a journalist or analyst, Michael was a constant figure. He traveled the world to educate himself and others on the ever-changing communications industry.
As a young journalist covering the telecom industry, I got to know Michael during my first stint at Telecommunications Magazine. He always took the time to give me his honest and informative take on the latest startup vendors and industry trends.
While I learned a lot about Ethernet, MPLS, gigabit networking and later SDN during our talks, my best memory of Michael was at the 2008 CTIA Show in Las Vegas. Telecommunications and Infonetics jointly held a panel series on wireless backhaul at a time when copper-based T-1 circuits were still a dominant platform. As I waited anxiously for speakers from Sprint and other major players to arrive, he turns to me and says, “relax.” I think this one statement set a positive tone for what became a successful event.
My heart goes out to Michael’s family. Your passion for the telecom industry and living every day to the fullest will certainly be missed.
Michael was always there. For anyone.
I remember Michael from every single telecom event I’ve ever gone to. He was almost always there. And he was on my Mobile World Congress flight to Barcelona every year. Always reintroducing himself as if I didn’t remember him. Of course I did! He was Michael Howard! I will be missing him in February when he’s glaringly absent.
I don’t have any poignant moments such as Sue, Carol, Chris and Sean. But these made me cry. As does my sympathy for J’Amy, Larry and Kim. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and his whole family.
© 2019 Calysto Communications