Founding engineer of WUOG at University of Georgia dies at 83

Wilbur Herrington, the founding station engineer of University of Georgia’s WUOG-FM, died March 29 of a malignant brain tumor. He was 83. He had been involved with the station in Athens since its launch in October 1972. “I can honestly say that Wilbur was, and very much will always continue to be, the heart and soul of WUOG,” Operations Director Akeeme Martin told the student newspaper, Red & Black. “He was fiercely proud of his spotless professional record, and the fact that the FCC never had to inspect WUOG,” said Tommy McGahee, a 2009 Georgia grad who worked under Herrington.

Former WGBH broadcast engineer Vern Coleman dies

Vern Coleman, 86, who worked 14 years as an audio engineer at WGBH working on such shows as The French Chef, The Boston Pops and Evening at Symphony, died March 18 at his home in Marstons Mills, Mass., after a long battle with leukemia. He was nominated for a primetime Emmy Award for best live sound in 1976, for his work on New Year’s Eve at Pops; he attended the Emmy ceremonies in Hollywood but lost to the soundman for Johnny Carson. Coleman also worked  as a contract engineer for WBUR in Boston, among other stations, and as a staff engineer of commercial WCVB. The lifelong resident of Cape Cod was born in Hyannis to local artist and educator Vernon H. Coleman and Ruby E. Coleman. He began his broadcast career in 1943, a year before he graduated from Barnstable High School, at Cape Cod’s only radio station, WOCB in West Yarmouth.

Norm Craley, 65

Norman S. Craley, a broadcast engineer who worked 35 years at Washington’s WETA, died of cancer March 24 at the Capital Hospice in Arlington, Va. He was 65. He had been diagnosed with metastatic esophageal cancer six months earlier and had chemotherapy, leading to a clear scan in February, his family told WETA, but the cancer took a rare and fatal course, spreading in his head. “Norm was a jack of all trades” who handled cameras, edited video and found his perfect match in master control, often working the night shift, wrote Joseph Bruns, the station’s chief operating officer, in a memo reporting the death to WETA’s staff. “His master control colleagues fondly remember Norm as reliable, a leader and the kind of guy who would do anything for anyone.”

Craley’s WETA career was interrupted when the Air Force called him to active duty in the Vietnam War, Bruns said.

Jim McEachern, 71, NPR’s point man for infrastructure

Jim McEachern, who was the principal technical leader for the Public Radio Satellite System for its first two decades and was a key planner of NPR’s technical facilities, died March 3 at age 71. He was one of NPR’s first employees in 1971 and worked for the network for 33 years until he retired in 2004. McEachern leaves his wife, Mary E., children Terrance, Elizabeth and Molly, and sister Janet Macidull. The family will hold a celebration of his life Saturday, April, 3, at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Rockville, Md. In lieu of sending flowers, friends may donate to their local public radio stations.

On the road with a circuit-riding Native American radio engineer

Lakota radio engineer Alex Lookingelk rides the highways of Wyoming, Montana and North and South Dakota, covering as many as 5,000 miles a month in his Chevy S-10 pickup. In the past seven years, Lookingelk has become known as a circuit-riding engineer for the public radio stations on the reservations and an all-around advisor to the stations. “He’ll say, ‘I have to go over to KGVA in Montana’ — that’s about a 12-hour drive,'” says Frank Blythe, executive director of Native American Public Telecommunications (NAPT), based in Lincoln, Neb. “He handles most of the Upper Plains’ technical problems and he also gets involved in the politics.” On his long drives, Lookingelk has plenty of time to chew on his worries about reservation radio and the tough-to-beat circumstances and habits that afflict it.