The modern radio broadcast industry recently turned 100. At the NAB Show this month, the descendant of one of the earliest radio technology suppliers will celebrate its own centennial.
The company today known as GatesAir got its start when food products specialist Henry Gates took his son Parker to visit the studios of KDKA in Pittsburgh during a business trip. “The experience left an impression on father and son, planting the seeds for a family-operated radio equipment company they would launch from their Quincy, Ill., home in 1922,” the firm wrote in a chronology.
Parker Gates was 14 at the time. He, his father Henry and his mother Cora B. Gates founded the Gates Radio Company.
According to the chronology, the company sold its first AM radio transmitter in 1936 to WJMS in Ironwood, Mich.
Transmission has always been a key focus. Through subsequent owners and business configurations, the company also has been involved in studio integrations, console manufacturing and sale of third-party dealer products, but its focus today is in transmission and audio networking.
Harris Intertype Corp. purchased Gates Radio in 1957. It added TV transmitters in 1972. In later acquired Intraplex, which made STL systems and today specializes in audio over IP networking. For 18 years it also owned Pacific Research & Engineering.
Among the company’s “firsts” during the Harris years were the broadcast industry’s first solid-state AM transmitter in 1973, digital FM exciter in 1993 and HD Radio exciter in 2003.
Harris Corp. sold its broadcast business to The Gores Group in 2012. In 2014, that broadcast business was divided into Imagine Communications and GatesAir, thus reviving the Gates name.
Bruce Swail was named CEO of GatesAir in 2017. “The spirit of innovation from the company’s beginnings remains here today,” he said in the announcement. The manufacturer plans raffles at the NAB Show, including crystal radio sets as prizes.
See our related post, “GatesAir’s 100 Years of History in Pictures.”