Longtime radio engineer and consultant Gary Kline has died at age 58. He had been fighting cancer.
Kline was probably best known in the industry from his tenure as an engineering executive for Cumulus Media, which he joined in 1999 and where he rose to become senior VP of broadcast engineering. He left Cumulus in a reorganization in 2016.
Since then, Kline worked to build a consulting business, offering advice to companies about audio processing, studio design, RF optimization and enterprise services. He was sought after as a speaker at industry events, and his bylined articles appeared in often in publications including Radio World.
During his years at Cumulus, notable accomplishments for Kline and his technical team included a huge IT project after the company purchased Susquehanna Radio in 2006, and a large infrastructure project for new Cumulus corporate offices in Atlanta in 2007.
Other projects there included RF jobs in Houston and digital studios for Eugene, Ore.; Topeka, Kan.; and Nashville, Tenn., the latter featuring one of the first broadcast radio facilities to use fiber optics to connect studios into a centralized router.
Cumulus launched its own streaming audio system during his tenure; it also set up an HD2 to feed an FM translator, a novel concept at the time, and it began exploring visual radio.
Kline received the Radio World Excellence in Engineering Award in 2009. You can read some of his stories on Radio World here.
Born and raised in Queens in New York, Kline was interested in radio in childhood, listening to distant AM stations WOWO in Ft. Wayne, Ind., and CKLW in Detroit/Windsor, Ontario at night. Amateur radio pulled him into electronics; he took night classes at the New York Hall of Science at age 10 or 11 and built kits and circuits bought at Radio Shack.
As a youngster he took the NBC studio tour in New York and secured a personal visit to WQXR(FM) from that station’s chief engineer.
By the time he graduated high school, Kline had attended summer engineering programs at Ball State University and the University of Colorado at Boulder through the National Science Foundation, and he had participated in an internship at NBC Radio, which led to part-time paid engineering work.
He did technical and on-air work to help pay his way through Purdue University, where he studied business.
Over the years he held engineering positions at ABC Radio and NBC Radio in New York as well as Artistic Media Partners in Indianapolis and other companies. He did consulting work in numerous countries.
In recent years he described himself as a broadcast technology strategist and a podcast engineering, visual radio and IT consultant. Clients included companies like the University of Florida, Benztown and the Atlanta Braves Network. As recently as November he was still traveling internationally, attending a broadcast conference in London.
He was a Senior Member of the Society of Broadcast Engineers, which he joined in 1999 and where he served three terms on the national board of directors and participated in several committees. He was also active at one time or another in the Audio Engineering Society, the Association of Federal Communications Engineers, the IPAWS Practitioner’s Working Group, Media Security Reliability Council, National Radio Systems Committee, and NAB groups including its Digital Radio Committee, Broadcast Engineering Conference Committee and TAP Radio Discovery Group.
“What makes Gary Kline successful is not just his technical ability, though that’s vital,” Radio World wrote in a profile in 2009. (Read it here.)
“It’s also his passion and the way he blends understanding of two worlds. As one Cumulus market manager told him after learning about RW’s award, Gary is ‘both an engineer and a radio executive,’ someone who can provide engineering leadership while making sound economic decisions that are in the company’s best interest. Also, as another colleague wrote, ‘You are one of the radio guys who always is ‘on it’ 24 x 7 x 365.’”