The man credited as being the father of the modern amateur radio repeater, has retired from the ham radio scene. On April 4th, 1996 Art Gentry, W6MEP and his wife Millie, K6JJN left the smog of Los Angeles, California for the splendour of Oregon. Art, who is 90 years young, developed the first practical voice repeater system in the early 1950's while working as an engineer for Los Angeles television station KLAC-TV, channel 13, which is now KCOP. Later Art went to work for KTLA-TV channel 5, also in Los Angeles. His repeater was located on Mt. Lee, which at one time, was Don Lee Broadcasting's Television station, that later moved to Mt. Wilson.
Using World War 2 surplus parts, Gentry fashioned a 2 meter receiver that would still hear other signals on the band even in the presence of a high power transmitter which was retransmitting a nearby source. By the end of the 1950's, Gentry had assembled and launched station K6MYK on the air. This was an AM repeater and was the forerunner to the modern FM repeater. Art's original repeater was converted to an FM unit in the late 1960's. It continues to use his W6MEP call sign and operates on the frequency pair of 147.24/147.84 MHz.
About two years ago, Art turned the day-to-day operation of his repeater over to Bill Arens, N6NMC. Arens says that the station repeater will retain the W6MEP call sign as long as Art is alive. This, says Arens, is a lasting tribute to the man who made repeaters available to all hams, many of whom have never even heard the name Art Gentry or the call sign, W6MEP.
For a feature on Art Gentry, please refer to to the article by Bill Pasternak in the March 2004 edition of QST Magazine.
Updated Apr 28/12