Glenn H. Lahman, a pioneering television broadcast chief engineer who never lost his affection for old tube radios, died of cancer Oct. 10 at his Annapolis home. He was 86.
Born in Bucyrus, Ohio, he left a farming community for the Valparaiso, Ind., Technical Institute, an engineering school. He then joined the Army and served in Europe during World War II. He landed at Normandy in July 1944 while in the Second Armored Division and later fought in the Battle of the Bulge.
In later years, Mr. Lahman wore his original master sergeant uniform in the St. Patrick's Day Parade and in the Annapolis Memorial Day Parade. He appeared in this year's event as a passenger in a car.
After the war, he resumed his interest in broadcasting and moved to Baltimore from a radio station in Iron Mountain, Mich. He was an early hire at the old television station WAAM-TV on Malden Avenue on Television Hill. As a technician, he helped build the new WAAM television station on TV Hill in 1948. He was present at the station's Nov. 2, 1948, opening. The station was owned by brothers Ben and Herman Cohen, who also owned Pimlico Race Course. It was affiliated with ABC and the old DuMont Television Network. Mr. Lahman helped broadcast early Baltimore Colts games.
While at the station, the first built and designed for television, he met and married its payroll clerk, Jeanne Carre. The couple lived near Pimlico on Whitney Avenue. He later moved to Annapolis' historic district, where he often took walks while attired in a cotton duck hat, known as a Tilley hat.
Family members said he stayed with WAAM as its chief engineer until 1957, when it was purchased by Westinghouse Broadcasting and changed its call letters to WJZ-TV. While there, he worked on the construction of the three-antenna candelabra tower, then the tallest free-standing TV antenna in the country.
He also designed and built WJZ's first mobile videotape truck in 1962. A Sun news account said the "van about town" was a "self-sustaining, complete station."
Mr. Lahman went on to travel with Westinghouse Broadcasting. He spent a summer at KYW-TV in 1967 when he directed the move of the Mike Douglas show from Cleveland to Philadelphia.
He also served at Westinghouse operations at WBZ-TV in Boston and KDKA in Pittsburgh before returning to the Baltimore area. He was the national president of the Society of Broadcast Engineers from 1975 to 1977.
He left Westinghouse and joined cable news as engineering manager of Satellite News Channel (SNC) in Washington, D.C., from 1982 to 1983, which was a competitor to Turner Broadcasting's CNN. Satellite was purchased by Turner Broadcasting.
Mr. Lahman supervised the building of Home Team Sports, later Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic.
Before his retirement in 1990, he was head of the Westinghouse Central Licensing Bureau in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Lahman retained his interest in broadcasting and became fixer and restorer of old, vacuum tube radios. He joined other radio enthusiasts at a store in Curtis Bay. A 1995 Evening Sun story called him its senior Golden Age radiotrician.
"When a radio stumps me, I give it a little time. I go out, walk around the block, think about it. Maybe I make a stop. Then it comes to me," he told a reporter in 1995, after taking a long draw on his pipe.
Mr. Lahman was also a devotee of Chesapeake Bay sailing. He was a former member of the Annapolis Yacht Club, the Fleet Reserve Club and once owned the Nellie Jeanne, a steam-powered tug boat.
He also was a member of the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge and the Veteran Wireless Operators Association.
In addition to his wife of 61 years, survivors include two daughters, Ellen "Boo" Lahman of Harwood and Paige "J.P." Cumberpatch of Annapolis; a brother, Lyle Lahman of Fostoria, Ohio; and a granddaughter.
Plans for a life celebration are incomplete.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun