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Wayne Hetrich

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Wayne Hetrich was the station's Chief Engineer in the late '60s. He left WPGC in 1971 and went to work for NPR, retiring around 1994. Wayne passed away in 2007 at age 79 from a heart attack and is survived by his son, Lee.



Ken (Mezger) Carpenter remembers:

During 1963 & 1964, WPGC did live remotes from the Hampshire-Langley Shopping Center in Langley Park. They did the 10AM - 2 PM Bob Raleigh (Rolle Ferreria) show the 1st two weeks in June-July-August. Each day, a table and sign had to be set up in front of the Kress store, along with a single pot mic mixer (with a big VU meter on the front) and a pot control. The Chief Engineer, Wayne Hetrich, allowed me and another boy named Bob Medve to set up the table, sign, mixer, mic and cord each day. Wayne promised to pay us (something) at the end of the summer.

We showed up and set up everything everyday and took it back down at 2PM. At 13 years old, we felt very important! Wayne sometimes left to go back to the transmitter for repairs and trusted us to put everything away. It was all stored in the basement of the Kress store. It was really a lot of fun!

To make a long story short, we were never paid. So in September I began calling him and he eventually sent us each a large box full of records, WPGC writing pens and several WPGC sweatshirts. It wasn't money but I didn't care - I would do it all again for free!



Bruce Wahl of National Public Radio writes:

I worked with Wayne from 1971 until 1984, when I left NPR to operate my own consulting business. I returned to NPR in 2003. There are a few (but not many) people working here that knew Wayne. Once he retired, I don’t think he came back for anything.

At his funeral, I learned that he had been teaching his grandchildren to fly. He held his private pilot’s license right up until he passed away. He is survived by a son, Lee Hetrich, who lives in Waldorf, Maryland. In fact, Lee and his family moved into Wayne’s house in Waldorf after he passed away.

Wayne used to share a Bob Howard directive with those that worked with him, “I want 100% modulation 100% of the time!” The station sounded like it too!




Hear the obituary below as broadcast on NPR

From NPR's, 'Weekend Edition Saturday', March 10, 2007

Public radio pioneer Wayne Hetrich — known at NPR as "Mr. Wizard" — has died at 79. He was one of the original 30 employees of NPR, Inc. in 1971.

Hetrich was called Mr. Wizard because he used to walk around NPR performing magic tricks. He even carried flash paper in his pocket. He was also an accomplished keyboard musician and a pilot.

When Hetrich received a patent for developing the Netcue system that allows local stations to record network programming, it was put into a trophy case with the altered caption, "NPR's First Patient."

But Hetrich's most magical trick was helping to create the public radio satellite system, which lead to the system over which all programs are heard today.

NPR was the first network in the United States to be beamed by satellite.

And when NPR almost went out of business during a financial crisis in the early 1980's, it was the satellite system that Hetrich devised that allowed NPR to secure the loan that kept it on the air.




At the controls in 1968

With GM, Bob Howard in 1968


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