The radio industry is remembering Doug Wilkens, an audio engineer, business owner and manager, sales and marketing professional whose international experience along with background in managing sales networks is recognized as much as his reputation as friend, mentor and leader.
Wilkens life was one of travel and exploration. Born in Chicago, Wilkens spent his childhood in India where his parents worked for a mission organization. During his time there, he became fluent in numerous Indian dialects. He returned to the United States to finish high school and then earned his degree in Broadcast Engineering and Design at Moody Bible Institute. It was in college where he met his wife, Fran, and the two of them traveled extensively, living overseas in Monaco and in Dubai. He had an ease in understanding foreign languages, learning to speak French fluently.
It was during these travels that he put his other skill to good use: designing and managing broadcast studios across Europe in the late 1960s for Trans World Radio (TWR), an international Christian media network. He and business partner Charlie Moore founded Dimension Five Sound and the audio division of Peirce-Phelps in Philadelphia. He became the University Sound product manager at Electro-Voice, served as director of sales and marketing at Community Professional Loudspeakers and then became vice president/general manager of Inter-M Americas. Along the way he expanded his expertise to include sound system contracting, specializing in church installations. Wilkens ended his career as senior project manager at the Dubai office of Maryland-based AVI-SPL.
He served as an active member of the Audio Engineering Society, completed training programs for the organization SynAudCon, served as a volunteer for the Boy Scouts, specifically assisting scouts as they worked to achieve their Radio Merit Badge. He also volunteered as a shortwave monitor for the U.S. Navy and was a dedicated ham radio operator.
“I’ve lost my best friend who was like a brother,” said Charlie Moore, his business partner of 52 years, through an announcement from TWR. “He will be sorely missed by his family, friends and the professional audio industry where he worked in making gains in both technology and education. His work was impeccable and he was always careful to do what was right. Our prayers are with his wife and sons for the loss that they have suffered.”
Others who knew Wilkens spoke of his values, principals and strong Christian faith, calling him a dedicated friend who had mastered the art of listening. He is survived by Fran, his wife of 56 years; their two sons, John and Joel; a grandson, Kristian; a brother, Steve Wilkens; and a sister, Charlotte Gift.
“He knew the value of knowledge and encouraged others to learn,” said SynAudCon principal owner Brenda Brown. “The thing that probably amazed me the most about Doug was his ability to adapt to, understand and appreciate other cultures. His childhood, being a missionary kid instilled great values that served him well in the AV industry.”
Contributions to Wilkens’ memory can be made to Trans World Radio while memories of him can be left on the tribute page for the Donohue Funeral Home. Services will be held June 5 at Proclamation Presbyterian Church in Bryn Mawr, Pa.