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A. EARL CULLUM, JR. 1909-1985 BY ARTHUR A. COLLINS AND JERRY STOVER A EARL CULLUM, JR., a pioneer in modern communications technology, cried of a heart attack on January 3 I, 1985, at the age of seventy-five. Cullum's work in the fielcl of radio, tele- vision, anc! microwave communications helpect weave the electronic network that binds the nation together. At the age of twenty-seven, he formed his own firm (A. Ear! Cullum, Jr., and Associates, Consulting Engineers) and soon became a widely known and well-respectecl authority in the problem solving associated with radio and television broadcasting. During his lengthy career, his name became synonymous · · . · . wit n engineering Innovation. Cullum was born in Abilene, Texas, on September 27, 1909. He moved with his family to Dallas a few years later, where he worked as a technician at radio station WFAA from 1923 to 1926 when he was a student at North Dallas High School. After high school, he enrolled in several courses in math ant! physics at Southern Methodist University before leaving the Lone Star State to attend the Massachusetts Insti- tute of Technology. Following graduation in 1931, Cullum went to work for American Airlines as an engineer in its communications re- search and development departments in St. Louis and Dal- las. He performed a similar function a few years later (1934) for the Southwest Broadcasting Company (SBC) in Fort 107
108 MEMORIAL TRIBUTES Worth, but this time in the post of vice-president. After leav- ing the SBC's research and clevelopment operations, he formed his own company. During World War II, Cullum was associate director of the Radio Research Laboratory at Harvard University and a con- sultant to the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Devel- opment ant! the National Defense Research Committee. The projects he supervised were vital to national defense, and uncler his guidance sophisticates! electronic weaponry, such as radio jammers ant! radar receivers, was developed. He also served as a consultant to the U.S. Strategic and Tactical Air Forces in London, England. For his service cluring the war, Cullum received the Presi- clential Certificate of Merit in 1948. Following the war, he was appointed one of the original directors of the Joint Re- search and Development Committee of the Army, Navy, and Air Force in Washington. In 1948 he was also awarded a fel- lowship in the Institute of Electrical ant! Electronics Engi- neers. Cullum was responsible for developing a number of im- portant engineering practices ant! innovations in the broad- casting fielct. For example, he originated the wiclely user! multiplication method of (resigning and analyzing broadcast and directional antenna systems involving more than two towers. Early on, Cullum appreciated the necessity of contin- uously monitoring the amplitude and phase of currents in an indiviclual tower located within a complex array of towers clesigned to avoid! radiation of energy in a direction that would adversely affect another station. Consequently, he de- velopecl the first coaxial sampling loop used to adjust and maintain the components of a broadcast directional system. Cullum also demonstrated that as directional antennas be- came more complicatecI, accuracy of adjustment became in- creasingly important, a finding that stimulated the develop- ment of unusually precise monitoring systems. Another Cullum pioneering practice was the use of ele- vated ground! screens to stabilize critical directional charac-
A. EARL CULLUM, JR. 109 teristics against changing ground conditionsfor example, tides on the New Jersey meadows and sunflowers in Kansas. These techniques were first used at WINS-AM in New York. In his continuing efforts to improve the design of broadcast antenna systems, Cullum also originated the idea of using the area under the currents distribution curve to define ac- curately the radiating "moment" of an individual tower of a radiating system, thereby taking into account the effect on the current distribution of the coupling between towers. In still another instance, he recognized the deterioration that reradiating structures, such as power-line towers or modern skyscrapers, could produce in a radiating signal, and he devised ingenious methods of detuning such structures to render them harmless. Specifically, Cullum helped to resolve problems caused by the John Hancock Tower and the Sears Tower in Chicago and assisted in obtaining the initial Federal Aviation Administration clearance for these structures. Since its inception, the firm of A. Ear! Cullum, Jr., and Associates, Consulting Engineers, has represented clients in major markets from Boston to San Diego and from Seattle to Miami, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Mexico. In addition to his duties with the firm, from 1960 to 1980 Cullum also served on the board of directors of the A. H. Belo Corpora- tion- the owner of radio station WFAA, where he began his longtime romance with radio during his high school years. Cullum was nominated to membership in the National Acad- emy of Engineering in 1970, at which time he was cited for "exceptional leadership and originality as a consulting engi- neer concerned with radio and television broadcasting." Yet to examine only his efforts to advance technology would be insufficient to describe A. Ear! Cullum, ir., fully, for he was equally renowned for community and public ser- vice during the most critical periods of the DalIas-Fort Worth area development. Among his greatest accomplish- ments was the technical development of the first system to use microwave technology to broadcast classes from a univer- sity to an industrial facility. The system was first made oper-
110 MEMORIAL TRIBUTES erational at Southern Methodist University (SMU), forming the basis for TAGER (The Association for Graduate Educa- tion and Research) and later for SMU's current off-campus en Yucatan program. Cullum was also an original member of the SMU Founda- tion for Science and Engineering anct served on its executive board. He was a member of the Educational Television Foun- clation (KERA-TV, Dallas), the Dallas Citizens Council, the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, and the executive committees of both the St. Marks and Hockaday schools in Dallas.