Remembering SBE Founder John Battison
CreativeCOW presents Remembering SBE Founder John Battison -- Broadcasting Editorial


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John Battison, P.E., CPBE, passed away August 28th, 2012, at his home in Loudonville, Ohio, just 14 days shy of his 97th birthday. Services are planned in Columbus, Ohio.

Battison began writing for Broadcast Engineering in the early 1960s, soon becoming an editor. It was there that Battison recommended forming an organization wherein broadcast station engineers could have their own forum for their issues in a 1961 editorial, then personally wrote to every radio and TV chief engineer -- about 6,000 letters -- proposing that one be started. The Society for Broadcast Engineers was formed in 1963 and Battison became its first president.

According to Chriss Scherer, Editor of Radio magazine, Battison lead a storied life. An expert on AM generation and transmission, he was the author of 15 technical books and more than 500 technical articles in technical journals, including regular entries in Radio. To say that Battison played a significant role in the broadcast industry is an understatement.

Battison held several management and engineering positions in his lifetime, and often consulted for places around the globe. Not only was he a leading figure in Canadian broadcasting, he was a formidable presence at all of the major US networks in the early days, including CBS, NBC, ABC and Dumont. An authority on directional transmitting antennas, his role extended to teacher, teaching five of the six special directional antenna seminars given by the NAB.

The holder of many awards and recognitions,the SBE Lifetime Achievement Award was renamed the SBE John H. Battison Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2011 by then SBE President Vinny Lopez, CEV CBNT.

Battison was awarded NAB's Engineer of the Year Award for radio in 1998, and reminisced about the broadcast transformation in the 1980's.

"By this time, engineers in radio stations were a thing of the past. 'Five-week wonder' First Class Licenses made DJs into engineers and remote control took over many of the operations," Battison said. "Automated transmitter operation and reduced FCC logging requirements were introduced, and only high-power and directional AMs had to make log readings every three hours." He wondered how many remembered the days of logging transmitter readings every half hour, or logging base currents daily. He noted that "It's quite different today. So different, in fact, that we don't need licensed operators any more. Unfortunately, the pirate broadcasters think they don't need licenses either!"

Certainly a personality in his own right and definitely a broadcast legend, Battison leaves us a legacy that only he could foster. The broadcasting world mourns its loss.