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Texas Broadcasters Remember Dick Pickens

Consulting and project engineer was a popular DJ before he was an ABIP inspector

Dick Pickens is being remembered as a consulting engineer, ABIP inspector and DJ.

His passing at age 85 was noted by the Texas Association of Broadcasters.

Pickens owned technical consulting company Microcom Systems Inc. One of its specialties, according to its website, was measuring, building, servicing and signal measuring AM and AM directional radio stations.

As one of the first four inspectors in Texas under the the Alternative Broadcast Inspection Program in Texas, Pickens helped hundreds of broadcast stations with FCC rule compliance.

Before he started his company in the 1980s, he had already been a top-rated deejay, program manager, production person, AV producer, radio chief engineer and teacher of broadcasting at the University of Texas College of Communication.

The TAB writes that Pickens began in broadcasting at the age of 10. He and nine-year-old Ben Laurie launched the “Keebie Kids” Saturday morning live children’s radio program on KEBE(AM) Jacksonville in 1946.

He met his future wife Nancy when she performed a piano piece on the program. The couple celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary last year, TAB noted.

Pickens began his DJ career in the 1950s with the air name Dick Laine, eventually joining the Gordon McLendon group of stations. He interviewed rock ’n’ rollers on-air and became a PD and DJ for the original KOKE(AM) in Austin. He later moved to top 40 station KNOW(AM) Austin. The Texas Radio Hall of Fame inducted him as Dick Laine in 2012.

“Throughout his on-air years, he expanded his knowledge of the engineering side of broadcasting, eventually earning his Amateur Radio license and in 1964 his FCC First Class commercial radio operator license,” according to the TAB. “He worked up to an Amateur Radio Extra Class License in 1975 with the call sign K5UD.”

In the 1970s he created, built and managed a radio common carrier business for which he had to learn to create computer programs; he designed and installed a number of radio studios and transmitter sites, according to the MSI website.

He later earned bachelor and master of divinity degrees from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. “He was a man of great Christian faith who also would use his broadcast experience to assist several Texas religious broadcasters over the years,” TAB wrote.

“In 1997, he became one of the four original TAB ABIP inspectors. For the next 25 years, Dick and Nancy traveled throughout Texas, inspecting hundreds of radio and television stations throughout the state, helping stations achieve compliance with FCC regulations,” TAB wrote. “Nancy served as the team’s Public Inspection File specialist.”

A memorial service is planned for March 5 in Spicewood, Texas.

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