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Jim Wulliman, Former SBE Leader, Dies at 98

TV and radio engineer founded the society’s certification program

Jim Wulliman in a still from a video interview by the Wisconsin Broadcasting Museum
Jim Wulliman in a still from a video interview by the Wisconsin Broadcasting Museum

James Wulliman, a past president of the Society of Broadcast Engineers who played a key role in the beginnings of the society’s certification program, has died.

He was president of SBE in 1973–75 and is credited with creating the certification initiative in 1977 to help document and elevate the professional credentials of broadcast engineers in their careers. He was the director of the certification program and its chairman for 20 years.

He was a charter member of the society, one of the first 300, and later became an SBE Fellow and Life Member.

According to an obituary published by the Green Valley (Ariz.) News, Wulliman died on Nov. 8 at age 98.

He was born in South Dakota but grew up in Illinois, where he worked for radio station WDZ(AM) in Decatur.

He attended Northwestern University and served in the army in Europe in WWII, and in 2015 he was awarded the French Legion of Honour Medal for excellent military conduct during the war.

According to the obituary, Wulliman was instrumental in launching WCNB(AM) in Connersville, Ill. He started a TV station in Decatur, and later led design and construction of two public TV stations in Milwaukee, serving as their chief engineer and assistant director of operations.

Wulliman later became director of engineering for the Journal Broadcast Group, including WTMJ(AM), WKTI(FM) and WTMJ(TV), Milwaukee, a post he held for many years. He was also the first president of Milwaukee’s SBE chapter.

He was only the second recipient of the SBE’s Lifetime Achievement Award, given in 1995, and he was inducted into the Wisconsin Broadcasting Museum Hall of Fame in 1998.

In 2011 the SBE honored him again by naming its annual Educator of the Year award after him. The award recognizes a member who is dedicated to the education of broadcast engineers through personal writings, teachings, programs and employment and who furthers the goals and objectives of the society.

[Watch a WBA video about Jim Wulliman’s career.]

After retirement, Wulliman and his wife Virginia moved to Green Valley, Ariz.

In his obituary, his family wrote: “We are proud to know that he was liked and respected as not only technically knowledgeable, but a ‘quiet manager’ who was friendly, professional, and supportive of his engineers’ own growth in the field.”