Radio Reacts to Death of Steve Church

The industry is reacting to the news that Telos Systems founder Steve Church passed away this morning at age 57.

The company says he died quietly at his home in Cleveland.

Church had been battling brain cancer for three years.

Telos says the engineer, entrepreneur and talk show host as well as the founder of the Telos Alliance, a coalition of broadcast technology companies, was noted for several products that ushered broadcasting into the digital age.

Comrex Technical Director Tom Hartnett told Radio World that Church “was the father of some really great breakthrough broadcast products, and leaves a big legacy in our industry. I was pleased that our competitive relationship was always friendly. I was always impressed on how such a relatively soft-spoken guy could inspire his colleagues with such specific and successful vision.”

BSW President/CEO Tim Schwieger called Church an amazing, gifted, brilliant man. “His deep love of broadcasting was always the foundation that guided Steve to innovate revolutionary products to benefit the industry,” Schwieger told Radio World. “His obsession with improving the quality of broadcast audio was always the first ‘feature and benefit’ found in every product he designed. The legacy he leaves is heard by most of us every time we turn on the radio.”

Radio World Publisher John Casey, who worked at Telos before coming to what was then IMAS Publishing, recalled first meeting Church at an NPR engineering conference in San Antonio back in the early 1990’s when three audio codec companies were conducting a presentation. “I had been working for the Danish company “RE” and just launched our MPEG Layer II audio codec (the EBU/DAB standard),” according to Casey. “Steve had an idea and maintained that the US codec market would embrace Layer III over Layer II audio coding because it could maximize one ISDN circuit and produce superior stereo audio quality. Shortly thereafter, his single-box solution called the “Zephyr” was born and Layer III was put on the map.”

There were a lot of recorded tracks for albums done over the Zephyr, too, so it wasn’t just for broadcasting applications,” said Casey. “Soon, the recording industry had new terminology and added a phrase to their vocabulary, ‘let’s Zephyr that part in.’”

Telos has set up a tribute page to Church.

On that page, Dave Bialik, streaming/project manager at CBS Corp., says he met Steve many years ago at a New York SBE meeting. Bialik spoke to Church many times over the year “and was so glad to have him at AES when he spoke about AOIP. The man was a legend who changed the way the world broadcasts audio.”

Lincoln Financial Media VP Engineering Barry Thomas says on the tribute page that he first met Steve at an SBE meeting in Columbia, S.C. when he demonstrated his new Telos 100 digital hybrid. “I didn’t let that thing leave town,” writes Thomas, who adds that he put the device on the air at his station the next day, “then let the program director plead with the GM to pay for it.” That started a long history of interacting with Steve and his team over the years at Telos, then Omnia/Axia.


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