Baltimore native Samuel Edward ‘Ed’ Hawkins Jr., general manager of WITH radio station, dies

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Samuel Edward “Ed” Hawkins Jr., a retired radio engineer who was a former general manager of WITH radio station, died of kidney failure April 12 at the Village at Augsburg, a senior living community in Baltimore County. The longtime Parkville resident was 90.

Born in Baltimore, he was the son of Samuel Edward Hawkins Sr., who manufactured nursing uniforms, and Margaret Anna Mattes Hawkins, a homemaker.


“My father studied violin at the Peabody Conservatory as a youth,” said Dr. S. Edward Hawkins III, his son. “He was always interested in the idea of sending signals through the air by radio and TV, and built his first crystal radio set when he was 13 years old.”

Samuel Edward “Ed” Hawkins Jr. belonged to a duckpin bowling league and bowled in a jacket and tie.

Mr. Hawkins repaired radios and TVs as a young man while his interest in broadcasting expanded. He graduated from Baltimore City College in 1951.


Mr. Hawkins went on to study engineering and electronics in the Navy and was assigned to the Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut.

After leaving the military, he continued his training at the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, where he later taught.

“During this time, many individuals returning from serving in the armed forces were looking to learn a trade,” his son said. “My father was responsible for helping students train and transition into jobs in the fields of radio and television broadcast.”

Mr. Hawkins met his future wife, Hilda Anna Van Rossum, at the old Baltimore Recreational Orchestra. They married in 1957 and were both amateur violinists.

In 1955, Mr. Hawkins joined WITH radio station, now broadcasting as WRBS. He managed its FM operation and maintained the transmitter and audio equipment on Route 40 West, in addition to programming classical music heard on the station.

“He was friendly, outgoing and was recognized for wearing a jacket and tie. He also liked a newsboy cap,” said his son. ”He belonged to a duckpin bowling league and bowled in a jacket and tie.”

Mr. Hawkins later worked at the station’s downtown studio and became chief engineer for both WITH AM and FM stations.

He continued at WITH for 25 years, becoming general manager and rebuilding the studios and the AM and FM transmitter sites.


He eventually became general manager and led the effort to produce broadcasts in stereo.

In the 1970s, Mr. Hawkins started Broadcast Services Company and led the construction of one of the first high-powered high school radio stations in the country — WKHS in Worton on the Eastern Shore.

His firm rebuilt the facilities of WBJC-FM on Reisterstown Road.

In 1980, he left WITH to join Harris Corp. of Quincy, Illinois, selling broadcast equipment. He remained at the firm until 1994.

In his final year with the company, he became manager of government/consultant relations for Harris Allied Broadcast Division and was stationed in Washington, D.C., where he had dealings with the Pentagon and Voice of America.

Mr. Hawkins worked in corporate sales at CompUSA and joined the Bethesda-based Data World, a broadcast mapping company.


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He subsequently joined Reeves Telecom Co. overseeing engineers.

Mr. Hawkins worked for over 51 years in the broadcasting industry and was a certified lifetime member of the Society of Broadcast Engineers.

He was a member for more than 65 years of Calvary Lutheran Church.

In 2002, he and his wife joined the Baltimore Museum of Industry as docents. He lectured on broadcasting and the garment industry before retiring from the museum in 2020.

“During his nearly two decades at the BMI, Ed was a cherished presence, beloved by staff and visitors alike,” said Jessica Celmer, the museum’s education manager. “He was a master educator and wonderful storyteller, enthralling everyone with colorful stories of time spent working in the garment industry as a teenager in the 1940s.”

Survivors include his three daughters, Laura H. Strachan of Annapolis, Linda M. Stephens of Nottingham and Caroline A. Scelsi of Joppa; a son, Dr. S. Edward Hawkins III of Ellicott City; 14 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. His wife, Hilda Anna Van Rossum, a Baltimore Museum of Industry staff member, died in 2013.


Services for Mr. Hawkins were held April 21 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Joppa. A life celebration will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on July 14 at the Baltimore Museum of Industry.