Chief Engineer Gordon Carter of WFMT(FM), Chicago, plans to retire from full-time employment at the end of this month. He spent more than 41 years at the same station, a rarity these days.
Carter intends to remain active in several broadcast engineering groups and tells me he’ll still be on the board for the Association of Public Radio Engineers, as well as the planning committee for the Madison Broadcaster’s Clinic, and remain as certification chair for SBE Chapter 26.
I’m glad he’ll still make it a point to get to conferences; I got a chance to talk with Gordon at the PREC in Las Vegas, which I’m especially glad of now that he’s retiring.
He plans to do some engineering consulting along the lines of the facility and studio design and construction work that he’s done over the years at classical WFMT and says he’s open to other projects, too.
Gordon started at WFMT in 1969 as a staff engineer and, in addition to studio design projects, was involved in the “first-ever instance of a CD being broadcast, as well as DAT and MiniDisc,” citing the unique opportunities of being at WFMT. Long-time readers may recall reading about those early installations of new digital media in RW.
I asked Gordon to identify technical changes he’s seen over the course of his career that stand out. He cites the shift to digital technology and the migration to solid-state.
“When I started out in the business, everything was tubes. Discrete transistors were just starting to be in some equipment, but the performance and reliability wasn’t very good.
He continues: “We now have big transmitters that are totally solid-state and controlled by ICs doing calculations at a rate that was not even dreamed of when I started. The electronics we work with now are much more stable and, if properly designed, can give better and more consistent performance for years more than the tube stuff ever could.” He also credits digital with a lot of performance at a relatively low price.