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Paul Gregg Remembers Peter Dahl

‘Knowing Peter was there to help a station get back on the air after a transformer failure was a great asset’

Peter Dahl died recently, as Radio World reported.

His colleague Paul Gregg of Bauer Transmitters Inc. shared with us further reflections about Dahl’s career, which arrived after our story was posted. We share them here.

“Peter Dahl was unique to the radio broadcasting and amateur radio fields,” Gregg wrote. “He had in his files designs for the ‘iron’ of transmitters made by AEL, Bauer CCA, CSI, Collins, Continental, Energy-Onyx, Gates, GE, Harris, ITA, McMartin, Raytheon, RCA, Singer, Sintronix and Wilkinson — all transmitters made in the U.S.

“To a transmitter manufacturer, keeping heavy iron on the shelf was an economical and physical problem as transmitters aged well beyond their warranty-plus years. Knowing Peter was there to help a station get back on the air after a transformer failure was a great asset and helped many a broadcast equipment salesman become a hero when he would pass along that information to a station engineer needing that kind of help when he was off the air.” Dahl would respond quickly with ideas and product, expedited when needed.

Gregg said the Peter Dahl Company was his major supplier of transformers from the mid-1980s onward.

On trips to El Paso and Juarez to visit Radiorama, which had several radio stations there, Gregg said he would stop by to see Dahl, “first in a storefront location and later in a plant he built in northeast El Paso.

“One common interest is that Peter was from Minneapolis and I was raised in Menomonie, Wis., about 75 miles away. We were in different generations — I graduated from radio school in Minneapolis about the time Peter was born. After the Bauer plant was closed in Sacramento and I moved to El Paso to be closer to our activities in Mexico, I would visit Peter several times a year, buying special transformers or other items that Peter had for sale.

“When visitors came to town — like Barry Mishkind and Buc Fitch — I would take them out to meet Peter and see his facility,” he continued. “Our relationship was strictly business, and we would compare notes once in a while when needed. Peter’s contacts in the world of amateur radio were many — probably more than in radio broadcasting. Jeff Weinberg, owner of Harbach Electronics back in Canton, Ohio, is one if those contacts.” Paul Gregg said Dahl’s designs — more than 1,200 in a catalog Gregg has — live on because the designs were purchased by Harbach after the El Paso facility was closed.

“Peter will be missed, as he has been for the last three years [after] he closed his plant because of illness. He stayed with it as long as he could — maybe longer than he should have. His designs worked well; if something was wrong he would fix it. He had a well-equipped ham shack adjacent to his office and a tower behind the plant. It was a sad day for him when he sold that equipment and shut that station down.”

Gregg concluded with an anecdote. “A station trying to get on the air with a Bauer FM transmitter they found advertised in your paper found out they had a bad plate transformer … as they were getting ready to get their new station on the air. I did not have a replacement (the last 602 was made 23 years ago) so I emailed Jeff last night — I had a quote this morning.

“So Peter’s work does carry on.”