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Engineer Ernest Batchelder Dies, Age 99

Helped bring FM radio to New England stations

An engineer whose radio career reached far back into the 1930s has died at the age of 99.

Ernest F. Batchelder died on May 30, according to his obituary. Born in 1915 in Langdon, N.H., he graduated from Eastern Radio Institute and completed courses through The Capitol Radio Engineering Institute. He was a Certified Senior Broadcast Engineer and a lifetime member of the Society of Broadcast Engineers.

“Ernest’s interest in radio began while he was young and continued throughout his life,” the obituary stated. “With two adults, he strung telegraph lines across the village to communicate with each other using Morse code. He was a licensed amateur radio operator.

“Following radio school he was employed as a radio engineer at WNBX in Springfield, Vt., moving to Keene when the station did (at which time it changed its call letters to WKNE).”

He worked his way up to chief engineer there and served in the Navy during that time in World War II. He later left radio and operated a dairy farm and sugarhouse.

“After 10 years of farming, he returned to his position of chief engineer at WKNE and began a longtime residence in West Swanzey. He brought the new technology for FM radio to WKNE. He went on to be a consultant for other radio stations in the area that were installing FM technology.”

Following retirement, he enjoyed gardening, backyard sugaring, maintaining a large yard and “keeping current on technology.” His family remembers him as an avid computer user, “for everything from keeping in touch with his family to managing household business.” His wife Floris L. Johnson died in 2005.

A memorial service is planned for Saturday, June 20. At the family’s request, there are no public calling hours and burial will be held privately.