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William Culpepper Dies, Was Longtime Consultant

He worked at RCA and N.J. Public Broadcasting before starting his own firm

Burial services are planned for October for longtime broadcast engineer and consultant William Culpepper. He died last month in Charlotte, N.C., at age 90.

Culpepper graduated from Georgia Tech, having studied engineering and industrial management. He was a member of the Naval ROTC while at the school, then was on active duty in the late 1950s, primarily serving as communication and crypto officer aboard the USS Barton on multiple cruises in the Middle East. He left the Navy as a lieutenant in 1958 but continued to serve in the reserves for many years. 

Culpepper worked in RCA’s Commercial Broadcast Division in the 1960s and ’70s, and later at New Jersey Public Broadcasting before moving south. He then was employed by consulting firm Palmer A. Greer & Associates; during that period Culpepper worked closely with legendary engineer Ron Rackley, learning about AM directionals. After Palmer Greer retired, Culpepper worked for Lawrence Behr Associates. 

Eventually he started his own consulting engineering firm, William Culpepper & Associates. 

His friend and colleague Bob Cauthen, president of SCMS, said Culpepper was an excellent and widely respected engineer.

“When William started working in Charlotte as a broadcast engineer, he was a partner and built a FM station in Shallotte, N.C.,” Cauthen recalled.

William Culpepper, shown at a local hamfest.

“At that time FM was not as desirable as an AM station. We found an old used RCA transmitter at Kintronics from Tom King Sr. and made it work to get the station on the air. He loved anything RCA from his years of working there.”

Culpepper had hundreds of broadcast clients, many in the Southeast, and was licensed as a Professional Engineer in five states. He also had ownership stakes in radio stations in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. 

An avid amateur radio operator (W4BZ, formerly W4PER), he mentored fellow hams and broadcast engineers. He was active in the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Association of Federal Communications Consulting Engineers, the American Radio Relay League, the Society of Broadcast Engineers and the Antique Wireless Association. 

“He was a devoted rail fan and passed on his fascination of railroads and trains to his children, grandchildren and niece and nephews,” his obituary states.

“He was a committed ‘do-it-yourself’ handyman around the house, and his in-depth knowledge of cars, plumbing and electrical systems astounded many.”

Cauthen echoed those sentiments. “William’s basement was like a broadcast warehouse and museum,” he said. “If you needed a tube or a capacitor, you likely could find it there. He had an extensive collection of old radios and helped me rebuild a number of mine.”

Also: “William never saw a plate of BBQ he did not like, and always attended any meeting that served BBQ,” said Cauthen. 

According to the obituary, his remains will be interred with military honors on Oct. 26 at Salisbury National Cemetery in Salisbury, N.C.

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