The Father of Radio Automation Machines Dies

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The Father of Radio Automation Machines Dies

Postby jon » Thu Apr 14, 2016 4:30 pm

Paul Schafer, Father of Radio Automation Dead at 90
by James O'Neal
on 04.14.2016
Radio World

Word has been received that Paul C. Schafer, developer of the first system for radio program automation, died on Feb. 23, in Bonita, Calif. He was 90.

Schafer’s initial involvement in broadcasting began with on-air work at a station in his hometown of Hammond, Ind. He worked at several other stations in the state before moving to California in the early 1950s where he landed an engineering job with NBC in Hollywood. It was during this period that the FCC relaxed its rules to allow certain remote control of transmitters for certain classes of radio stations. This inspired Schafer to devise a system for transmitter remote control and monitoring and to launch Schafer Electronics.

A few years later, Schafer was asked by the owner of a Bakersfield, Calif. radio station to see if he could create a system for providing overnight programming. Schafer used a couple of jukebox record-playing mechanisms and reel-to-reel tape decks to provide both music, playback of commercials and station IDs. This system paved the way for Schafer to create more sophisticated systems, including the 903 that appeared in the 1970s and performed such functions as back-timing and joining network newscasts on time. The big radio station equipment suppliers, Collins, RCA and Gates (later Harris and now GatesAir), were not producing their own automation gear and all marketed Schafer’s systems. Schafer’s name became synonymous with radio automation, with sales of more than 1,000 systems globally.

Schafer was honored with the NAB’s 2002 Engineering Achievement Award and authored a chapter on remote control for one of that organization’s Engineering Handbooks. He also owned several radio stations.

Plans for a memorial service for Schafer have yet to be announced.

Image

Image
With his remote transmitter control equipment
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Re: The Father of Radio Automation Machines Dies

Postby Neumann Sennheiser » Thu Apr 14, 2016 11:10 pm

James O'Neal -Radio World wrote:Plans for a memorial service for Schafer have yet to be announced.


...although, they have already been voice-tracked.
"You don't know man! I was in radio man! I've seen things you wouldn't believe!"
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Re: The Father of Radio Automation Machines Dies

Postby RationalKeith » Wed Mar 22, 2017 11:13 am

Thanks.

I remember touring KGMI in Bellingham WA when it was producing music tapes for automated broadcasting, in the mid-60s.

Operator/announcer sat in blockhouses on a warehouse floor, with some kind of sound isolation method underneath.

A tape had time announcements every minute or so.

I forget how that was all sequenced together, I guess by tones on a track beside the music track.

Log would be made on a "Teletype" or such printer (normally used for text messages over long distances, "Telex" was another service, airlines had a system as well, I suppose telegrams were done that way by then).
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Re: The Father of Radio Automation Machines Dies

Postby RationalKeith » Wed Mar 22, 2017 11:17 am

Here's a Shafer system using carts:
http://www.easylisteninghq.com/html/schafer903sys.htm

And more of the mixed-media 903s:
http://www.reelradio.com/kmr/index.html

Some techs might say no saving as the station would have to have a tech attending the equipment to clear problems. :-)
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