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A Man With His Hands in AM

The late Dave Gorman was a leader in AM system projects

Dave Gorman at work. ‘Many consultants are very secretive and protective of their knowledge, but Dave wasn’t like that,’ one colleague said.
In a career that spanned almost 50 years, Dave Gorman, founder and vice president of Phasetek Inc. of Quakertown, Pa., served many stations by providing AM phasing and branching gear, antenna tuning units, multiplexers and consulting services.

Gorman passed away in 2009 at the age of 78 following a brief illness. Colleagues remembered him as one of the most sought-after consultants on AM phasors and directional arrays.

He started his career in electronics while serving in the Navy shortly after World War II. Following his discharge he worked for Philco in Philadelphia, designing consumer electronics products. While working there, Gorman attended Temple University at night, eventually earning a degree in electrical engineering.

In the early 1960s he went to work for American Electronics Laboratories, at the time a subcontractor for RCA, designing AM antenna phasing equipment. It was at AEL that he learned the art and science of designing AM antenna arrays, something not taught in university engineering classes.

In the late 1960s, Gorman left AEL and started his own company, PER Corp., designing antenna phasing equipment and providing installation and field service. The firm went through several business iterations as PER evolved into CSP Inc., then Vector Technologies. The latter went out of business in 1990; Gorman and his son Kurt then founded Phasetek Inc.

Honest dealing

Over a half-century, Gorman worked on hundreds of jobs. Some of the most notable include construction of a new directional array for XTRA 690 in Tijuana, Mexico; design of antenna and phasing equipment for a new WTMJ transmitter site in Milwaukee; and the design and construction of a 100 kW diplexer for stations in Caracas, Venezuela.

“My dad loved to travel and enjoyed working with people,” said Kurt Gorman. “He was always happy to be on a site helping out the local engineers, even if he wasn’t selling equipment to them. When installing one of our systems, he saw to every detail of the installation personally, and wouldn’t quit till it was right.”

Tom McGinley, director of engineering and manager of information systems for CBS Radio in Seattle and technical adviser to Radio World, recalls Gorman’s honesty and integrity.

“In 1982, we contracted with CSP for a new phasor and LTU system, and paid half the cost as a deposit,” he said.

“Dave called me about a month ahead of the delivery date and said he had encountered financial difficulties, was temporarily suspending business operations and could not supply our system by the deadline. He returned our down payment and suggested we buy the system from another vendor, which we did.

“A number of years later we rewarded his honesty and good faith by buying another system from Dave, who had reorganized as Vector Technologies.”

End to end

A willingness to dig in and get his hands dirty and to take on projects no one else would touch are traits recalled by Glynn Walden, director of engineering for CBS Radio Philadelphia.

“Dave was both a friend and an engineer,” said Walden. “He was not only an equipment manufacturer and installer, but also a consultant. When we hired Gorman he just did everything end to end, with no need to call in an outside consultant.”

Walden recalls a story about a station in Alabama that had an AM antenna array in poor condition.

“The easiest thing would have been to gut the whole system and start from scratch. Gorman knew, however, that the owner didn’t have that kind of money. So he took on the Herculean task of rebuilding the existing array, using as few new parts as possible.”

Gorman also is remembered as an educator, if not in the traditional sense of the word.

Harry Simons, retired vice president of engineering for First Broadcasting of Dallas, reflects, “Many consultants are very secretive and protective of their knowledge, but Dave wasn’t like that. From my first contact with him working on the DA at WAEB in Allentown, Pa., Dave impressed me as someone who was willing to share all that he knew about the special art form of phasors and antenna arrays. He was able to connect with you at your level of understanding and build from there. For those who wanted to know more, he was always willing to teach.

“If anyone deserves recognition for countless contributions to AM radio technologies,” Simons continued, “Dave Gorman is very high on the list. Dave dedicated a lifetime developing and manufacturing innovations into AM antenna systems used worldwide. Why Dave would choose a thankless career as a broadcast engineer, only a broadcast engineer would understand.”

Phasetek Inc. continues to design and build AM DAs and antenna gear under the leadership of Kurt Gorman.

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