Walter Cronkite, KB2GSD, named honorary member of Radio Club

CBS newsman becomes RCA’s 26th honorary member

Walter Cronkite, KB2GSD, in a 2003 ARRL video,

The Radio Club of America has conferred honorary membership upon Walter Cronkite, KB2GSD. Cronkite is best known as the anchor of the “CBS Evening News” program from 1962 to 1981 and as America’s eyewitness to history.

In its 98-year history, RCA has given only 26 honorary memberships. The other living honorary member is June Poppele. Her father, Jack R. Poppele, was one of two engineers who, in 1922, started what now is New York’s WOR AM radio station.

Walter was selected to receive honorary membership because he exemplifies RCA’s purposes.

First, when most people think of Walter, they think of broadcast excellence and journalistic achievement. Previous honorary members included Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael I. Pupin, Ph.D., and the long-time president of the Radio Corporation of America, David Sarnoff. RCA has ties with the broadcast industry that date from the industry’s inception in the 1920s.

Second, Walter has worked to promote amateur radio, an important segment of RCA’s membership that fosters one of the organization’s purposes, which is to advance the radio art. RCA would not be what it is today were it not for the contributions of its amateur radio members.

Third, Walter has encouraged young people to take up an interest in radio communications. Youngsters who form such an interest often go on to pursue careers in science and engineering related to radio, wireless telecommunications and broadcasting. RCA encourages the same, and supports as many as 17 students annually with scholarship money.

Walter likes to sail aboard his yacht, Wyntje. He had this to say in an ARRL video he narrated in 2003: “My call is KB2GSD. And you can bet that when I’m on the ocean, even if the GPS, the radar and the ship-to-shore fail, I’ve still got my ham radio station. It really is the best back-up communications system in the world.”

Honorary membership is the highest distinction given by RCA, which will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2009. Among previous honorary members were Paul F. Godley, 2ZE, a participant in the first transatlantic communication by amateur radio, and Harold A. Wheeler, known for broadcast receiver development and tracking and guidance radar in missile systems.

Along with John S. “Jack” Belrose, Ph.D., VE2CV, Walter also has been selected to receive RCA’s Armstrong Medal, the organization’s foremost achievement award. The presentation is scheduled for Nov. 16, 2007 at the New York Athletic Club in New York City, during RCA’s annual banquet.

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