George J. Capalbo, a pioneer in radio broadcasting and a lifelong resident of Worcester, died Friday at The Ichabod Washburn House hospice.
He was 86, according to The Boston Herald.
Capalbo was one of the nation’s most respected broadcast engineering executives and was a member of the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame, inducted in 2012.
He was a veteran of the Navy, serving during World War II as a radio telegraph operator.
He had a major influence on Boston radio broadcasting in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. He built FM radio station WAAF in Worcester in 1961, and was chief engineer for WRKO in Boston at the time of its launch as a Top 40 station as the ‘Big 68’ in 1967.
Mr. Capalbo is credited by then-General Manager Mel Phillips with putting together a state-of-the-art broadcast facility for television and radio “from scratch” at 7 Bulfinch Place in Boston, and with developing WRKO’s radio automation system.
In 1973, Mr. Capalbo was promoted from chief engineer of the Boston radio station to vice president engineering for the RKO Radio Division nationwide, supervising seven AM stations and seven FM stations in major markets including New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles, and later built the RKO Satellite Network, the first radio satellite delivery network.