Byron St. Clair, a renowned television and radio engineer who was instrumental in bringing early TV to the mountainous rural West passed away last week. He is a past board member of ATBA and his loss is deeply felt by many across this industry. St. Clair is survived by his daughter Susan Hansen of Arvada, Colo. A memorial service is currently planned for June. His incredible accomplishments and outstanding character are fondly remembered below by fellow board members and friends.
St. Clair’s wife of 71 years, Julie, passed away today, May 30, 2018.
Byron was more than a great engineer. He was my friend. Were it not for Byron’s patient, wise, creative help and faithful friendship, my family and I would not be broadcasters today. God blessed us when He put EICB (now ESI) in Byron’s capable hands. I credit Byron and his great team with any success we’ve achieved in LPTV. May God bless His memory and grant peace to his loved ones.
Randy Weiss, Ph.D. – Co-Executive Chairman, Edge Spectrum; President, CrossTalk International
I will never forget the time that Dr. St. Clair came all the way to Wichita Falls, Texas, with a television antenna as his carry-on baggage, to save my LPTV station’s life.
Literally, Dr. St. Clair had learned of my difficulties in getting a signal from one spot to another using a design which had not been his own. Sure, I had purchased a TTC transmitter but the design for my early station had been worked out by some different folks.
I reached him by phone one day in Colorado and though extremely busy he took the time to listen to my tale of woe. I was trying to use the wrong antenna to get the signal from one of my transmitters to another. Again, this was not by Dr. St. Clair’s design. After a long pause on his end of the line he said he would look at my LPTV paperwork and get back to me.
Little did I dream his idea of getting back to me was to personally fly from Colorado to Texas, again with a small directional television antenna as his carry-on baggage, and take the problem in hand. I can’t remember his age at the time but he was certainly advanced in years, even back then. He took to the roof of our building like a man in his twenties. We flew his antenna on the same pole that was carrying the antenna that was not working for our situation and plugged it in.
Wow! The change was instantaneous and the results were outstanding! He did not stay long and before the reality of what had just happened had really sunk in he was gone and headed back to Colorado!
On more than one occasion he, and the wonderful Jim McDonald, have figured out a way to get a signal/license application/paper work filed that has seemed almost miraculous!
Another fond memory is sitting with him outside the workshop rooms during a lunch break one year at NAB. While others might have been dining in a great restaurant or at least taking advantage of one of the food vendors there sat Dr. St. Clair, who had forgotten more about television engineering than most in attendance, chewing on a sandwich he had removed from a paper bag. The really great ones don’t have to brag or swagger, they know what they know and if we’re wise we do everything we can to learn from them.
Our last face to face meeting was in Dallas at a board meeting for the Advanced Television Broadcast Alliance. His insight, interest was as keen as anyone in the room. His passion and enthusiasm for LPTV and translators had not dimmed. Clad in that requisite almost shapeless sport coat and with those huge spectacles framing that wizened face several of us in room noticed he had a cut on his head. He didn’t want to be a bother, as I remember, but let someone address the issue.
I thought to myself at the time, someone is tending to a wound on a national treasure.
There are many more people with far more experience than I related to this gifted man but I just wanted to say from the bottom of my heart that communication in this country would look dramatically different had it not been for Dr. St. Clair and a few others who had the knowledge, foresight and initiative to move in a direction that others had not even envisioned.
God bless Dr. St. Clair, your loving family and everyone involved in your endeavors.
Rod Payne – President, CFNT, Class A LPTV stations in Wichita Falls, TX – NRB Church Media Comm.
As a twenty something youngster as I began my first job in managing an LPTV Network, Dr. St. Clair was already a legend. Over thirty years now in the business and I have had the privilege of working on many projects with him. An incredible legacy and a hole has been left with his passing. Today as the executive director of the ATBA, I have been able to see his tireless efforts to further the industry, especially in the latest repack. Just as recent as our last ATBA board retreat, he insisted on attending in person in Dallas even though it was quite a hardship for him to come. God bless his family and the industry he leaves behind.
Lee Miller – Executive Director, ATBA – CEO, MSGPR – NRB TV Committee