Jerry Martin, chief engineer of WKNR AM 1310 and the early WNIC-FM 100.3 Detroit, passed away yesterday morning at Oakwood Hospital in Dearborn. He will be at the Voran Funeral home in Allen Park from 1-9 pm Friday, January 2nd with services on Saturday at 10 am.
Jerrold L. Martin was born December 29, 1916 in Franklin, Minnesota. After graduating high school in Elbow, Minnesota, in 1938 Mr. Martin moved to Detroit and found a job at Kroger. Radio was a hobby and during World War II Jerry became employed at the Willow Run bomber plant as a pre-flight test radio technician. After the war when the Willow Run plant closed, Martin was hired at the Briggs Meldrum plant in Detroit assembling Packard car bodies.
In December 1946, Jerry was hired by Suburban Broadcaster as a radio engineer where he assisted with the construction of WKMH AM 1310 Dearborn and turned the switch on for the first day of broadcasting.
Also in 1946, he married Bernice Maczorowski and together they had one son, Jerrold Jr., who passed away in 1997. Bernice predeceased Jerry in 2002.
Jerry would become chief engineer of WKMH in 1947 and eventually Knorr Broadcasting purchased WKMH and changed the call sign to WKNR. Through the years at WKNR, he supervised construction and changes and when Knorr Broadcasting acquired additional stations in Flint, Saginaw, Jackson and Battle Creek, he became vice president of engineering for the group.
WKMH-FM 100.3 was added in 1950. Jerry supervised the installation and construction of what now is the present day transmitting facilities of WNIC-FM.
Another change saw WKNR-AM and WNIC-FM become owned by Renaissance Communications, which also had stations in Milwaukee, WI, Columbus, OH, Rochester, NY and Norfolk, VA. Jerry was appointed as director of engineering for Renaissance.
Jerry retired in September 1985, though continued to do consulting for radio stations. In addition to his engineering duties over the years, he co-authored the operating information for the Emergency Broadcasting System (EBS) and became vice chairman of the EBS for Michigan. Later he served as chairman of the southeast section of the EBS. The system is known today as The Emergency Alert System (EAS).
Jerry Martin was a life member of the Society of Broadcast Engineers and a Certified Senior Broadcast Engineer. He received a Carl E. Lee Radio Engineering Award at the 2008 Michigan Association of Broadcasters Conference.
He was a registered member of the Detroit Area Council Boy Scouts of America for 46 years. He was also a member of the advisory board of the Detroit Council and received the Silver Beaver Award, the District Award of Merit, and the Wood Badge. He served in several volunteer positions at the district level including Merit Badge counselor, a Brotherhood Member in the Order of the Arrow, and an Assistant District Commissioner. Jerry had a whole-hearted love and belief in scouting.
In 1997 Jerry and wife Bernice provided funds and an endowment to build a new administration building at the D-A Scout Ranch near Metamora, Michigan dedicated to the memory of their son Jerrold Jr. In 2002 funds were also provided for the flag pole plaza at the Dick and Sandy Dauch Scout Center in Detroit.
Jerry Martin, the longtime chief engineer for WKMH/WKNR/WNIC passed away on New Year's Eve, two days after his 92nd birthday.
Jerry began his career as a radio engineer in 1946, assisting in the construction of Keener's predecessor, WKMH and holds the distinction of being the second employee hired by Fred Knorr at the station. His many accomplishments through the years include supervising the installation and construction of the present day transmitting facilities of WNIC-FM. Since retiring in 1985, Jerry worked as a consultant and co-authored the operating information for what is now known as the Emergency Action System (EAS). He was a life member of the Society of Broadcast Engineers and Certified Senior Broadcast Engineer. Earlier this year, The Michigan Association of Broadcasters Honored Jerry with the Carl Lee Broadcast Engineering Excellence Award.
He built that incredible reverb unit that gave WKNR it's distinctive sound. "The heart of the system was a Hammond spring type reverb system," Jerry commented in December of 2005. "It was about four feet tall and about six to eight inches square. In it I believe there were four pipes each of which encased a spring of various sizes and tensions. The unit had to stand erect since the pipes were filled with oil, which I presume provided a damping efect on the springs. I built an amplifier to drive the springs an then pick up spring output. The audio was fed straight thru and to the reverb system. The reverb audio was then recombined with the straight thru audio, The input and output of the reverb system was controlled to achieve a desired effect.. At the time we had engineers at the transmitter so it was placed there to keep curious fingers from messing with it."
Jerry was a friend and mentor to many, both inside and outside of broadcasting. The engineering fraternity in Detroit came to rely on his experience and judgement. "While the radio business in Detroit was extremely competitive," he once said, "we were always willing to help one another when there were technical issues."
He had a special place in his heart for the Boy Scouts and was an active Scouter throught his life, continuing to volunteer and add value to young lives long after his retirement.