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Gary Wachter Dies, Engineer in Southwest U.S.

He was chief engineer for Service Broadcasting in Dallas

Colleagues are remembering Texas-based radio engineer Gary Wachter, who died in November. He was 65.

According to his friend and fellow engineer Melissa Hussel, Wachter had carcinoma cancer and died at home. He is survived by his son, Matt, of South Carolina.

Wachter was chief engineer of Service Broadcasting in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and a familiar face at SBE Chapter 67 meetings.

Hussel said Wachter, whose mother was a German citizen, was born in Waco but spent part of his childhood in Germany. He remembered hanging around the projector booth of the movie theater on a military base, fascinated by the carbon arc projectors; late in life he would find enough parts to make his own at home.

Back in the United States Wachter entered the radio business in high school and was on the air in Corpus Christi using the name Wires Wachter; he worked at KEYS(AM) and KRYS(AM) as well as the local PBS station.

Discovering he enjoyed technical work more, he took an engineering job at KTSA(AM) in San Antonio around 1976, working there until 1984 as chief engineer, a stint that included a full studio buildout and installation of a Kahn AM stereo system. Subsequently he worked as chief at KFYI(AM) and KKFR(FM) in Phoenix, where he built out studios in a former TV station.

Around 2000 he came to Dallas and started as chief at Service Broadcasting, which owns KKDA(AM/FM) and KRNB(FM) nearby. Wachter led a facility move from Grand Prairie to Arlington, Texas, that involved another studio buildout, and handled an FM antenna upgrade for KRNB.

“He was very driven,” she said. “A fellow engineer once said that his transmitter suite was ‘so clean, you could eat off the floor,’ and he wasn’t wrong. Gary had a high work ethic, and always went above and beyond.”

Colleague and longtime friend Mike Chittenden said Wachter also wrote a software program for a Gentner VRC transmitter remote control and a screener program for Telos phone systems.

Messages to his family can be posted at the website of Rolling Oaks Funeral Home.