My baby brother is back with his most recent girlfriend and they've become extremely serious -- he's leaving town to be with her. Other than my Mom, that's it for immediate family in the area for me.
His is the only really happy leave-taking of the past week. Two radio/TV engineers I had worked with passed away this last week, 93-year-old "Doc" Arnett and Charlie Sears, long the transmitter engineer for WTTV, which for decades was the independent station in central Indiana, a kind of regional "superstation" along with lines of WGN or WTBS. Charlie was an active electronics hobbyist and in local years, we often crossed paths at hamfests and Indiana Historical Radio Society meetings. He taught me (and a lot of other radio-crazy kids) at least two of the three different ways to coil up a mic cable so it didn't have any kinks, twists or knots in it. He was 81. "Doc" Arnett was the epitome of small-market engineers; he was the local two-way radio tech and ran that business from his home in his free time. He had designed the pleasant, functional studio/transmitter facility for the station that was his main employer, a very clever setup that recovered heat from the transmitter and other equipment to heat the building and used internal hallways to sound-isolate the studios from one another. He appeared to be pushing 150 when I met him back in 1977, but never acted it; in the short time I worked there, I saw him do everything from fix the transmitter to replace everything in the production studio, from the electronics to installing a new Formica top on the 1940s-vintage studio desk. When radio changed and his station was bought by its across-town competitor, Doc moved with the times and kept right on working.
And one more, bittersweet departure: Bill "Super" Shirk, longtime presence in Indianapolis radio, will work his last on-air shift today. Bill is best known for his two daytime-only AM stations, the former WERK in Muncie, IN and WXLW here in Indianapolis. Both were Top 40 in their heyday and under Bill's management, were outstanding stations that exerted a disproportionately-strong influence on how radio was done in this region. Bill's retiring, after a long career as owner, DJ -- and escape artist.
Some days I feel old; I look back across the years and wonder how I ever got so far from such a tiny start. --'Cos I was helped up by giants, is why.
T. R. MCELROY'S STREAMLINED TELEGRAPH KEYS
11 months ago