I found out in an email that Frank Bonner, the retired longtime chief engineer of KNTU, passed away yesterday. Besides being a really good guy, he was the master of holding things together on the fly...there were times we swore he kept that place running with chewing gum, baling wire and paper clips. Being a university-owned station, our annual budget was less than most midday air personalities get paid at commercial stations, but we made the most of what we had, and Frank was, on the technical side, the glue that kept everything together.
As I recalled at his retirement party a few years ago, I had the misfortune of having to wake that poor man up on way too many occasions. The transmitter would often simply not respond when the remote equipment was turned on from the studio, and sometimes, despite knowing all the little "tricks," I would have to wake Frank up at around 5:50 a.m. if we simply couldn't get signed on. He sometimes had a sigh in his voice, but like the trouper he was, he would head out to the former missile base north of Denton and get it going again, even if he had to climb the tower to do so (a job that should have been left to a man half his age, perhaps). No matter the problem, we were rarely off for more than an hour.
I won't be able to attend the services in the morning, as I'm judging region jazz auditions, but I join the chorus of those who pay tribute to a really good guy who was really good at what he did. He'll be missed.
Oh, and I also remember how odd it was that Frank shared a name with an actor who played a character that was pretty much the polar opposite of "our" Frank, on the series WKRP in Cincinnati, which, of course, was about a radio station.