John Battison, founded Society of Broadcast Engineers

By Dru Sefton

John Battison, former director of engineering at WOSU-TV in Columbus, Ohio, and founder of the Society of Broadcast Engineers, died Aug. 28 at his home near Loudonville, Ohio. He was 96.

John Battison with the Society of Broadcast Engineers Lifetime Achievement Award, later named in his honor. (Photo: SBE)

Battison had a long and interesting career in broadcasting, working for CBS, ABC and Saudi Television in Saudi Arabia. In 1955, he built his own television station, KAVE, in New Mexico. He was chief engineer at WOSU at Ohio State University from 1979–85.

Battison planted the seeds for the SBC by writing an editorial for the December 1961 issue of Broadcast Engineering magazine in which he called for an organization dedicated solely to the professional needs of his colleagues. The group’s first meeting convened in Chicago on April 5, 1964, during the annual National Association of Broadcasters convention. Today, the Society of Broadcast Engineers counts more than 5,300 members in 100 chapters worldwide.

In recognition of his professional achievements — which included writing more than 1,000 published articles on broadcasting issues — the SBE renamed its award honoring career achievements in broadcast engineering the John Battison Lifetime Achievement Award.

Battison was born Sept. 11, 1915, in Wembley, England, and grew up in London. He served as a Royal Air Force bomber pilot in World War II and immigrated to America in 1946. He served for more than two decades as a priest in the Anglican Church.

He is survived by his wife, Sara; daughters Penny and Victoria (Dan); sons Christopher (Sara) and Mark (Linda); four granddaughters; and one great-grandson.

This obituary, printed in Current‘s Nov. 19 issue, updates an earlier online post.
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