Additional Statementsby Senator Bernard Sanders
Posted on 2013-01-23
SANDERS. Mr. President, I rise today to celebrate Ken
Squier, of Stowe, VT, for his historic contribution to motor sports and
to broadcasting, and for his deep and abiding commitment to the people
of Vermont. On November 29, 2012, NASCAR presented Ken with the
prestigious Buddy Shuman Award, given to ``an individual who has played
a key role in the continued growth and success of Cup racing.''
Most Americans know Ken Squier as the ``Voice of the Daytona 500.''
In 1979, Squier convinced CBS Sports to broadcast the Daytona 500 in
its entirety. This event was a seminal moment for stock car racing in
the United States, later described by ESPN as ``NASCAR's most
revolutionary event,'' the one that convinced the national networks
that NASCAR had a very wide following around the country.
When he was 14 years old, Ken Squier announced his first race at a small dirt track in northern Vermont--from the back of a logging truck.
In 1960, he opened Thunder Road SpeedBowl, a quarter-mile racetrack in Barre, VT. In summer, the track has hosted stock car races every Thursday night for the last 50 years. These events have become fixtures in the culture of northern Vermont.
As NASCAR developed a national following, Ken Squier became one of its most celebrated personalities. He pioneered the use of in-car cameras during broadcasts, putting viewers right next to the driver during the race. Ken's voice became inseparable from the sport, providing turn-by-turn coverage of all CBS-broadcast races for almost two decades. This included the sport's most prestigious event, the Daytona 500.
Ken Squier is not at all defined solely by his importance to racing. He has deep roots in northern Vermont. In 1969, he became president of Radio Vermont, Inc., a family business that is one of the only independent, family-run radio companies left in the United States. Radio Vermont's stations provide a variety of music, sports, and news; in particular, they focus on local events, the happenings that bind communities together and give them identity. Over the years, Ken has staunchly opposed corporate consolidation of the media because he believes, strongly, that radio stations should serve the community and provide vital conduits for local information. He has practiced what he preaches.
Radio Vermont's immense value to the communities it served was proven during the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011. Irene was the most destructive storm to hit Vermont in decades. Torrential rains and Vermont's mountainous terrain brought flooding on a vast scale, wiping out houses, businesses, and historic downtowns. Roads and bridges were washed away, cutting dozens of towns around Vermont off from the outside world. Ken and his staff, Eric Michaels, Lee Kittell, Tom Beardsley, meteorologist Roger Hill, and others kept the station on the air 24 hours a day in the weeks after the storm to ensure vital emergency information reached Vermonters in towns that had been cut off. With the State of Vermont's emergency communications equipment washed away, Radio Vermont proved that local radio stations are fundamentally important to their communities.
Ken Squier has helped change sports in America, but even more significantly, he has been a true exemplar of a good citizen. Vermont is, and will remain, deeply in his debt.