Paxton Durham will wrap up a nearly 50-year career in broadcast engineering when he retires from Radio IQ and WVTF on May 1. Durham has been the chief engineer at the station for 32 of those years and is well known regionally and nationally in the field.
When he joined the station on June 30, 1990, WVTF had one transmitter and two lower-power translators in the Roanoke and Charlottesville areas. Much of the programming and news content was recorded and edited on tape. Now the station boasts 10 transmitters and 15 translators across a broadcast area stretching from Fredericksburg and Richmond to Wise. Computers and the internet have dramatically changed how programs and news stories are prepared and delivered. Durham has been integral in every technological improvement.
Durham said he’ll miss his coworkers and the frequent visits to remote mountaintop transmitter sites.
“I was raised in the mountains, and I really like being up on a mountain,” he said. “Sometimes it gets a little rough. It’s winter and you hope you can get up and not have to hike it to get to a problem.”
He said he won’t miss the late-night alarms indicating a problem on that mountaintop, though.