Pioneering Broadcast Engineer Jules Cohen Dies

WASHINGTON -- Veteran broadcast engineer Jules Cohen passed away late Tuesday night, according to Ron Rackley of duTreil, Lundin and Rackley in Sarasota, Fla. While details are still emerging, Rackley said he got word of Cohen’s death from Bernie Segal, a long-time colleague of Cohen, at the Association of Federal Communications Consulting Engineers luncheon, held Wednesday in Arlington, Va.

“It was announced at the AFCCE luncheon and what I know is public at this point,” Rackley said. “I never knew a finer man than Jules and I have known few who were in his league as a fine gentleman and excellent engineer. He was a mentor to me early in my career. I am saddened to think that I will never see him again in this life and I will miss him always.”

Cohen was in his 90s. (He is shown at right accepting the NAB Engineering Achievement Award from Michael Rau, on the left, of the NAB in 1988. The image is from the archives of Radio World.)

Cohen, president of Jules Cohen & Associates, played a major role in the development of Federal Communications Commission rules governing the assignment of FM stations in the frequency band 88.1 to 91.9 MHz. He was involved in satellite earth station studies, interference design and adjustment, propagation studies, and radio and TV studio and transmitter layouts. He also conducted extensive work involving the engineering aspects of several FCC rules. Cohen was honored in 1988 with the NAB Engineering Achievement Award for his accomplishments throughout what was then a 40-year career.

In his acceptance speech, he noted changes that had occurred in the industry over the span of his career. “At the end of World War II, AM broadcasting, with fewer than 950 stations, was not only the dominant broadcast medium, it was virtually the only medium,” he said.

Of television, he said, “We are seeing... picture quality we hardly dreamed of 20 years ago. Even better is still to come. For someone like myself devoted to the concept of local television available to all who can afford even the least expensive of television sets, and that really encompasses just about everyone, the major consideration is the survival of a healthy, terrestrial television broadcasting service. Competing media without the spectrum restraints of terrestrial broadcasters seem to be better positioned to take advantage of the new television developments. But the current population of some 140 million NTSC television receives in this country alone must be reckoned with and not ignored without peril.

“Some terrestrial broadcasters may have come only recently to the realization of the threat from other media, but some voices have been crying in the wilderness for a decade or more. The surge of effort now underway is encouraging and I feel confident that broadcasters will meet the challenge. Fortunately, the NAB, the Association of Maximum Service Telecasters and others have convinced the FCC that a threat to local broadcasters exists. Action is necessary if the structures is not to be weakened seriously. Several hundred engineers from industry are now expending substantial effort in the many working parties and specialist groups of the FCC Advisory Committee on Advanced Television Systems. Their work, coupled with that of the ATSC, and other organizations and laboratories, will, I am confident, yield a workable solution to the need for the system that will take us into the next century. ” ~ with Radio World