CHARLES PAUL BONER
Dr. C. Paul Boner was born in Nocona, Texas on February 8, 1900. His parents were Charles Wilbur Boner and Sallie Lee Westmoreland Boner. He attended the Montague Grammar School, Montague, Texas and graduated from the Bellevue High School, Bellevue, Texas in 1916. His education at the University of Texas was interrupted by service in the U.S. Army in 1918. After the completion of this service he returned to the University of Texas and received the BA in Physics in 1920 and the MA in Physics in 1922. During the academic year 1927-28 he was a Whiting Fellow at Harvard University. He returned to the University of Texas and received a PhD in physics in 1929.
Dr. Boner held appointments as Instructor, Assistant Professor, and Associate Professor in the UT Department of Physics during the period 1920–1936. In 1936, he was appointed Professor of Physics. During this period Professor Boner was a popular teacher whose lectures were noted for their spectacular lecture demonstrations. He initiated the first courses in electronics at the University and began a program of research in acoustics that had far-reaching consequences. Noteworthy were his studies and research on the pipe organ. This involved not only research into the physics of organ pipes but also the construction of a large organ which was located in the Physics Building (now Painter Hall). His occasional concerts on this organ were always well-attended. He also developed a program in architectural acoustics; a program in which he and his students developed professional skills that will be mentioned below. Dr. Boner became known internationally for his ability to design auditoria, sound studios, and other public buildings and for his ability to diagnose and correct the faults of buildings that had poor acoustic properties.
Dr. Boner married Marian Oldfather September 9, 1930. This marriage was blessed with three sons, Donald Stephen, Charles Randall, and Richard Elwood.
In 1942, Dr. Boner requested a leave of absence from the University to serve as Associate Director of the Harvard Underwater Sound Laboratory (HUSL). This laboratory, which was established by the U.S. Navy for research into SONAR systems and acoustic torpedoes, grew rapidly. Professor Boner recruited numerous personnel from the University of Texas. (Three of his students, Bob Wallace, Wayne Rudmose-Jones & Jack Cunningham, were already at Harvard working on the military project. See his invitation letter at end of his end of this web page.–Mel Oakes) Under his leadership, this group of Texans developed a fine esprit de corps and made numerous important contributions to the war effort.
For this wartime research, Dr. Boner received honors such as the Naval Ordnance Development Award, the Office of Scientific Research and Development Certificate of Appreciation, and, in 1948, the Army—Navy Certificate of Appreciation.
In early 1945, the heads of the U.S. Navy foresaw an end to World War II, and they decided to move HUSL to a permanent location since Harvard University was not willing to operate it as a peace-time facility. It was predicted that the laboratory would be closed in September 1945. Naturally, Dr. Boner received many offers for administrative positions in the new laboratories (two laboratories developed from the programs and staff of HUSL) and also in other programs in Washington. In February 1945, Dr. Boner wrote to Professor T. S. Painter, Acting President of UT, and described the developments at Harvard and the opportunities open to him. Dr. Boner stated that he had been on leave of absence for nearly four years, and he did not wish to take any action without considering the wishes of Dr. Painter and the University.
Dr. Merle Tuve, the Director of the Applied Physics Laboratory, Silver Spring, Maryland asked Professor Boner if he would be willing to serve as Director of a Naval Ordnance project at UT which would be sponsored by the Silver Spring laboratory. After some negotiations, Dr. Painter, in a letter dated July 16, 1945, told Dr. Boner that he had been officially appointed "Director of the Research Project under contract NOrd 9195." The duties of this new position began officially on September 1, 1945. The first research problems were concerned with a missile project called the Bumble Bee Program. The new laboratory was located in the White Oak Dormitory building which was located just north of the Memorial Museum. Dr. Tuve suggested David Crockett Laboratory or James Bowie Laboratory as the name, but the more prosaic Defense Research Laboratory (DRL) was chosen. Dr. Boner established at the very outset that this laboratory would be closely involved in education and faculty research. He employed students, both undergraduate and graduate, and made the laboratory facilities freely available to graduate students who were working on theses and dissertations. During the subsequent years, when there was little or no formal instruction in acoustics in the University, the laboratory provided excellent training in this field.
Dr. Boner's knowledge was highly valued in Washington, and he served on numerous government committees. For example, in 1948 he was appointed as Expert Consultant to the Committee on Atomic Energy of the Research and Development Board in Washington. Dr. Boner foresaw the large growth of government-sponsored research on the UT campus, and he recommended that the University establish a central office to administer these projects. On August 1, 1949, he was appointed Executive Director of the newly created Office of Government Sponsored Research (OGSR). This is another example of Dr. Boner's foresight and organizational talents. Dr. Boner was appointed Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences effective September 1, 1949. His appointment was divided between the Deanship and the Directorship of DRL. While Dean, he reunited the two mathematics departments. This operation required both tact and firmness, and its success is a tribute to Dr. Boner's skill as an administrator. The rift between the pure and applied mathematics areas had evolved into a strong polarization, and many faculty members did not believe that that unification would be successful.
In 1953, Dean Boner was appointed to the specially-created position of Dean of the University, a position that corresponded closely to the present position of Vice President for Academic Affairs. In 1956, he became Vice President of the University of Texas System. This position not only included system-wide responsibilities but also that of Executive Officer for the Austin Campus. In 1957, Dr. Boner resigned this position to devote full time to DRL and OGSR.
During this period of heavy administrative duties, Dr. Boner continued active research in acoustics. The leading professional society in this field is the Acoustical Society of America which Paul joined in 1931. He was elected a Fellow in 1941, served as a member of the Executive Council for three terms, 1947-1950, as President-Elect during 1962–1963, and President of the Society during 1963–1964. Dr. Boner regularly taught courses in architectural acoustics in the School of Architecture, where he held the position of Professor.
ln addition to the academic duties and responsibilities that have been outlined, Dr. Boner continued his activities in architectural acoustics. He supervised the acoustic design or improvement on some 800 buildings. These include churches, schools, auditoria, theaters, coliseums, gymnasia, radio studios, university buildings, restaurants, and libraries. Members of the University faculty will be familiar with the results of his acoustic design in Batts Hall, UT Student Union Ball Room (sound system equalization), Recital Hall in the Music Building, Townes Hall, the Will C. Hogg Geology Building as well as the Astrodome. Dr. Boner's advice on the design of pipe organs was frequently sought. He helped design the Recital Hall organ presently located in Music Bldg. No. 1.
His interest and research in sound system technology culminated in a procedure for the definitive control of feedback (howlback) and response anomalies caused by acoustic coupling between rooms and their sound systems. He was issued a series of patents beginning in 1966, and his first definitive paper on the subject appeared in the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society in 1965. This work was the culmination of ideas first expressed to his students and colleagues in the 1940's. The Acoustical Society of America gave tribute to the importance of his contribution to architectural acoustics by dedicating a special session to Professor Boner at the 98th Meeting held in Salt Lake City, Utah in November 1979.
The wide variety of activities we have enumerated suggest the wide range of Dr. Boners’ interests and knowledge. They do not, however, suggest the contagious enthusiasm and cheerful concentration he brought to each problem. He always provided encouragement and often helpful suggestions to his coworkers. He enjoyed helping the younger members of his staff advance in their careers. It's clear, in retrospect, that Dr. Boner's chief pleasure from his numerous administrative assignments was the opportunity they provided for him to help the younger faculty members and research scientists. His public talks, which always attracted an appreciative audience, were characterized by sound content lightened by a strong sense of humor. Dr. Boner brightened the life of everyone who had the pleasure of working with him.
Dr. Boner was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi (Life Member), The American Association for the Advancement of Science, The American Association of Physics Teachers, American Association of University Professors and Texas Philosophical Society. He was an honorary member of Sigma Pi Sigma and an initial member of the Institute of Noise Control Engineering. Dr. Boner was a Fellow in the Acoustical Society of America, Audio Engineering Society, and the Texas Academy of Science. He has been a member of the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies Council, Governing Board of the American Institute of Physics, "Review of Scientific Instruments" Editorial Board, and the Acoustical Society Executive Council. He enjoyed very much the social contacts of the Cosmos Club in Washington and the Town and Gown in Austin.
Dr. Boner retired from the University in 1970. This retirement gave him the opportunity to work full time with his three sons in architectural acoustics and audio design. This association gave Dr. Boner great pleasure, and he always spoke of their work together with enthusiasm. After a serious illness he died on April 12, 1979 in Austin, Texas. His parting is mourned not only by Marian, his wife of 49 years, and his three sons, Donald, Charles, and Richard (and an aunt, Mrs. W. B. Patterson of Austin), but also by all of us who had the benefit of his friendship, encouragement, and help.
This memorial resolution was prepared by a Special Committee consisting of C.W. Horton, Sr. (Chairman), C. M. McKinney, and A.W. Nolle.
Addendum from UT News Service announcing Professor Boner’s death:
“Services will be held at 4 p.m., Saturday (April 14) at the Weed-Corley Funeral Home, Austin, Texas, with The Reverend Armistead Powell of All Saint’s Episcopal Church officiating. Cremation will follow. Memorial contributions may be made to the Austin Humane Society.”
In 1920s, Dr. Boner built the first large-scale public address system for Memorial Stadium. At the time, it was one of the most powerful in the United States. Sound was broadcast through three groups of megaphones, each measuring 10‘ by 10‘. Each such horn was fed by four loudspeakers, with 120 watts of power. Total cost of this early system was $3,000. (Information provided by Richard E. Boner, son of C. P. Boner)
Arthur E. Lockenvitz's story about Professor Boner. In 1929, the floor of Y Hall was about three feet off the ground and they stored stuff under there, and among the items was a bunch of old discarded toilets. In the summer of 1929, Chairman S. L. Brown was on a trip up north and they started to tear down Y Hall ( another barracks used by physics). Boner took charge of moving all of the stuff out of the building. When it was completed, he sent a telegram to Brown saying, "Moved everything out of Y Hall, including the assets." Brown could not remember any "assets" in there, and it took him a long time to figure out what Boner meant.
1941 letter to Boner from National Research Council Regarding His Availability for the War Effort
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
2101 Constitution Avenue
Washington, D. C.
March 4, 1941
Professor C. P. Boner
University of Texas
Dear Professor Boner:
This letter is in the nature of an inquiry to determine your attitude toward aiding in the national defense program which the Federal Government is promoting. As you probably know, the President has set up the National Defense Research Committee who let out contracts with individuals or universities establishing and financing various research programs.
At Harvard University we have been given several acoustical problems dealing primarily with sound control in combat vehicles. The NDRC has sublet the administration of our program to the National Research Council who, in turn, have set up a committee composed of Professor P. M. Morse, Professor F. V. Hunt, Mr. J. S. Parkinson of Johns Manville Company, Mr. Elmer Sperry of Sperry Gyroscope, Dr. Cecil Drinker of Harvard Medical School and myself as secretary. It is our belief that all acoustical defense problems will be routed through the hands of this committee.
Just recently, the Services have proposed another problem of extreme secrecy dealing with acoustics and, if the money is appropriated, we shall need a qualified authority on acoustics to carry out the investigation. I wondered if you would be interested in working on this problem. It would mean your coming to Harvard University in order that you might use the research equipment which we have already established.
The normal arrangement is that if the University is willing to loan your services to the defense project, we shall pay only the additional cost necessitated by your travel and housing here in Cambridge. If the University is not willing to continue your salary but would be able to release you for a temporary, then the committee would pay your entire salary.
At the present time, it appears that approximately $4000 will be available for salaries of all men including shop and secretarial services employed on this particular project. It is believed that the project will continue about two months and, if necessary or feasible, the contract would be extended for any length of time necessary.
We naturally thought of you because of your wide experience in this field and because we felt that you might enjoy coming east for a short period of time. This project would commence within sixty days if the money is made available.
There is one further possibility that if you are unable to come before your school lets out, you might be interested in doing defense work through the summer.
Your remarks and the attitude of the University on these questions would be greatly appreciated. You understand, of course, that this letter is not definitely asking you to come but rather an attempt to find out your situation. Professor Morse, who is chairman of the NRC committee, would appoint you officially.
At the present time three of your students, Bob Wallace, Wayne Rudmose-Jones and Jack Cunningham, are working full or half time. All three have contributed many things to the projects and are a credit to you.
Leo L. Beranek, Secretary
NRC Committee on Sound Control
FABULOUS ORGAN GATHERS DUST NOW
By BLAYNE SALYER American-Statesman Staff,
August 8, 1948
You won‘t find it among the Seven Wonders of the World, but at the University of Texas it is a top bracket experimental project.
This local marvel is an arrangement of unorthodox organs. Dr. Charles Paul Boner, Defense Research director and professor of physics, was the chief creator.
The project began in the late 1920s when Dr. Boner‘s research was directed toward a study of the differences in tonal families.
Pipes for research were expensive. But a study of the physical differences in the tone of a flute and a trumpet was of almost atomic importance. And Dr. Boner stressed the physics of organ pipes then.
An offer in a classified advertising section of a newspaper told of a pipe organ in Midland selling for the price of the pipes needed by the physicist. The organ was purchased and moved to Austin, blower and all. The small-action console was set up, and Dr. Boner & Company started research.
A group interested in acoustics was concerned with the different types of materials used in making pipes. “We'd long suspected that the' certain type of metal causes a special tone' belief was pure hokum. And we set out to prove it," recalls Dr. Boner.
Fooled an Expert
For an ear test on an organ builder, the group took ordinary wrapping paper, shaped it into a pipe and applied shellac. Other materials used were expensive block tin, wood, plumber's sheet metals, copper, sewer pipe, and the original Midland pipe. The sections were put on a half-section of pipe and played one after the other.
Hearing wasn't believing for the organ builder, he halted the experiment when the wrapping paper was put on and shouted, "Stop, there's ‘real’ quality. That's an organ pipe made of the finest metal." 'The builder felt misled and grossly insulted,” Dr. Boner recalls. But the principles established in the experiment have been utilized by organ builders facing a metal shortage.
The Texas Academy of Science became interested in the organ project when a demonstration of the physics of musical sound with the organ was presented one Thanksgiving. The lecture, complete with musical numbers and theater stunts, was a whopping success.
Dr, Boner was still interested in the physics of the contraption, but his five graduate students wanted to make an instrument of it. They next secured an official okay and bought an organ at San Antonio. It was a relic, having been stored among the rats and hay of a barn.
Interstate's Queen Theater was being remodeled about that time, and the owner gave their organ and different pipes to the experimenters. "Some of the University‘s college boys helped take it out one night. And we found ourselves with organ all over the physics building," Dr. Boner declares.
All three organs were then combined. And a console was built in 1935 by Will Hofmann and his father, University cabinet workers. The console or key desk weighs 1,000 pounds and rests on wheels. Engravings, circuits, relays, switches and other gadgets it employs were built by the graduate students.
Students Now Famous
It is now sitting in the physics prep room directly behind the second floor auditorium. Cables connect it through the ceiling with the third floor organs proper. Five to ten miles of wire are found in the cables which make it possible for the three organs and other pieces to be played from the one console.
Graduate students who worked on the organ also helped out churches during the summer. They rebuilt and installed organs throughout the city.
Wilson Nolle, one of the organ experimenters, received his PhD at MIT a year ago. An assistant professor of physics at the University now, Nolle is doing acoustics research, working with the properties of rubber. He is the son of Dean Nolle at Southwest Texas State College.
Robert B. Newman, another experimenter, has his master‘s degree now and is outstanding in acoustics research at MIT where he is working in the field of architectural acoustics. He is the son of Dr. Henry Ware Newman. an Austin physician.
Other educators who were graduates back in organ days at the University are Dr. H. W. Rudmose, professor of physics at SMU, and Walter Kuehne now a research physicist at the University. Kuehne, a radar expert, taught at Harvard during the war.
Otto Hoffman of Kyle is the only member of the original group who entered the organ profession. An undergraduate at the time, he learned the trade by rebuilding and repairing the University organs. Hoffman is now building organs at San Marcos.
The experimenters were assisted in their building by NYA girls. With the soldering of an estimated 10,000 joints and other interesting construction activities, a great deal of attention was attracted to the physics building.
An analysis of tones was made by the physicists when the pipes were finally blown. Psychology professors noted the response of the ear to different tones. Radio House was being set up also and the organs were valuable in acoustics studies.
“Much time and preparation went into a weekly radio show,” Dr. Boner recalls. He and Nelson Olmsted, a KNOW announcer and student, produced a 30-minute program weekly on the Southwest Network, the forerunner of TQN. Patterned after the popular "Moon River" shows, organ music and poetry kept the program running until the load became too heavy after a year. Dr. Boner, who has many of the old recordings, compared the music to improvising for silent movies. (To hear a broadcast from this show see below.)
Like A Goofy Invention
Repairmen were kept busy when the pair presented a dialogue show based on hearing various pitches. Sixteen vibrations was bottom, and up to 15,000 tops. Both extremes were beyond the reach of most radios.
“ Only difference between me and you fellers is that I'm on the inside and you`re out,” said one fan letter from the asylum, Dr, Boner smiles.
Another event in which the organ group figured prominently was the Christmas sing-song in the patio of the home economics building. “When we raised the windows in the physics building so our playing accompanied the singing, you could hear us in North Austin," recalls Dr. Boner.
A physics demonstration also used to be presented annually as a part of the Engineer's Power Show. "We had guides and three organists playing steadily from 6 until midnight. Thousands have gone through the walkways and upstairs to see the switches and relays work," estimates Dr. Boner.
Other organists who performed were Hope Tilley and Paul Kennard. Tilley formerly was organist at the Paramount's predecessor, the old Majestic Theatre. Kennard now plays at the Milam Cafeteria and for the First Baptist Church. (Paul Kennard was also the accompanist at the Texas Conservatory of Music on Guadalupe Street –Lois Mallory, a voice student there.)
A total of 1600 pipes are found on the experimental organ. They range in size from short pieces one-fourth inch in diameter and length to pipes 18 feet long and 14 inches square. Some of the larger ones weigh 250 pounds each.
Pipes are blown by two 10-horsepower air blowers. It’s a sequential type of arrangement, and there are six to eight switches in some channels. Pressing a key forces actions which cause wind to move into the pipes. “When most electricians see the set-up they say ‘Give me plumbing’. There are 450 wires in the cable, and the electrical connections that control the valves are quite complicated," Dr. Boner explains.
All the gadgets the old movie organs had are found amid the arrangement of unorthodox and percussions. Included are two base drums, snare drums, xylophone, harp, glockenspiel, horses hoofs, chimes, sirens, auto horn, cymbal, bird whistle, and a crash cymbal. Air bubbled through light lubricating oil creates a fine mockingbird. “It takes two hands, both feet, and an occasional elbow to manipulate the traps and other complex mechanism,” warns Dr. Boner.
The professor of physics and Defense Research director first began playing the organ in 1921 at the University Baptist Church. He held that weekly post until 1938 when other activities forced him to resign. He is still called to pinch-hit all over town. He and his organ tools are a welcome sight in a world in which few are left who can repair pipe organs.
Little Time for Meals
Dr. Boner taught at Harvard during the war. Now his Navy work prevents further organ activities since he has little time even for meals.
The experimental organ project at the University totaled only $2.500. If the pipes and chests were purchased today, the cost would be $20,000 or more, Dr. Boner estimates.
The unorthodox instrument has an uncertain future. Since the entire physics building is disrupted when it is played, the switch was pulled long ago. And now it is just sitting.
Artists appearing at the University use the fine instrument which the music building has. And in these crowded days the space it occupies
in the physics building is being eyed hungrily by instructors. "Even if space were secured elsewhere, it would take a six-man crew four to five days to disassemble, gather up the chests, racks, reservoirs. and other parts," warns Dr. Boner.
Since the electronic era began, the research at the University has been the only work done in the organ field. The special-shaped experimental pipes are valuable, and studies are incomplete.
War broke up the research. But one physicist in Holland read some of the works which were published. Dr. Boner says. “I hope this Dutch physicist has the right kind of ideas to carry on the study of organs over there."
(Note by Mel Oakes—According to Professor Wilson Nolle, the organ was either given or sold to Otto Jürgen Hofmann, celebrated Austin organ builder. He apparently used it for parts in his organ repairs and construction. Hoffman's wife, Margaret was elected to the Austin City Council. )
(Note added by Mel Oakes– Blayne Salyer was born in Port Arthur, Jefferson County, Texas to J. B. and Ida Mae Cook Salyer on June 15, 1927. His father was district fire chief. He graduated from U. of Texas in 1950. He worked for Austin Statesman and Port Arthur News. In 1962, he was appointed to the post of product publicity manager in the corporate marketing headquarters at 300 Park Avenue for the Crane Co. in New York City. Prior to his new appointment, Salyer was a press relations associate in the public relations department of the Chase Manhattan Bank New York City. He died April 25, 1966, in Prospect Heights Hospital, Brooklyn, from injuries of the head suffered in a fall a month earlier. He was 38.)
(Typos and a few errors in the original article have been corrected.–Mel Oakes)
“Although many acknowledge the symbiotic relationship between science and art, rarely is that connection played out at a high level in the same person. Dr. Charles P. Boner is that remarkable exception. His organ served both as a test bed for his advanced acoustical studies and as an instrument for marvelous musical expression. His expansive style of theater organ playing has largely died with its original exponents. Hence, this live radio broadcast from 1935 serves as a precious reminder of a great era and a remarkable mind. Thanks for posting this!”
Distinguished Professor of Music
Presidential Chair in Music and Interactive Arts, UCLA
"Boner is known in underwater acoustics as being the associate director of the Harvard Underwater Sound Laboratory during WWII. They developed the first acoustically guided torpedo, in record time. I just came back from Boston today, and can assure you that few of those who know about Paul Boner know of his expertise as an organist. I knew Boner and used to discuss the organ with him. Complaining to him one day about my own miserable efforts at the console, he jokingly offered this piece of non-wisdom '...Oh Tom, playing the organ is easy. If you don't know the next note, just hold the one you have until one comes along that you do know.' WRONG!"
Comment from Tom Muir, colleague of Professor Boner at ARL
To hear Organ Reveries program click on play arrow at bottom of organ picture shown at left.
Organ Reveries. November 13, 1935. Southwestern Broadcasting System. Sustaining. The program originates from the University Of Texas. Professor Charles P. Boner plays the Physics Building pipe organ. The last selection on the program is, "Elegy" by Massenet. C. P. Boner, Leroy Nelson Olmsted (announcer). 27:49. Click play arrow on image above.
Leroy Nelson Olmsted, a UT student at the time. was the the announcer for the show. He became a successful radio, TV and movie actor. Two records of Olmsted's performances were released in 1956 under the Vanguard label. They were Sleep No More! Famous Ghost and Horror Stories (Vanguard, 9008, 1956), and "Edgar Allan Poe: Tales of Terror" (Vanguard, 1956) They were later re-released in the 1960s and 70s as a two record set. Picture at right is Nelson Olmsted as Arthur Colemar from the Perry Mason Television series.
On the back of the Sleep No More album, Olmsted wrote:
"Now that I think of it, we had a sort of Golden Age of Drama down in Austin, Texas, during those depressed middle thirties. There was the Curtain Club of the University of Texas and Austin’s Little Theatre, and working between them were such aspirants as Zachary Scott, Elaine Anderson Scott, Eli Wallach, Walter Cronkite, Brooks West and Alma Holloway (a UT student), whom I had sense enough to marry. Most of them came on to New York, fought the actor’s battle, and made it one way or another. I stayed behind with the security of a radio announcer’s job. By the time I moved to WBAP, in Fort Worth, this security was pulling, and the announcer’s life seemed endlessly sterile. What to do about it? Dramatic shows cost money and there were no budgets. The cheapest drama for radio I could think of was good literature, read aloud. Especially the work of that great dramatist who never wrote a play—Edgar Allan Poe. WBAP gave me some time with which to experiment. That was way back in 1939—and it worked. By 1940, the storytelling show was on NBC for a ten-year run. There were a couple of years out for the Army, but even so I managed to tell stories over the Army radio network in Italy. Television brought rough competition to the industry. Rather than fight, I joined by adapting some of the best stories into plays, selling them to Fred Coe, and playing a part in them—sometimes the lead. So— in the long run— I got to New York, too, and made it as an actor, literally by telling stories!"
Olmsted, who was born in Minneapolis, grew up in Texas. Olmsted's last performance in Television was as Professor Martin Kyle in The Paper Chase (1978). He died in Torrance, CA in 1992 at the age of 78.
The trio included on the program was called the Collegiate Scamps and included Pat Patterson (at right), Phil Nabors (sp?), Billy Gerald.
Acknowledgment: Thanks to J. David Goldin, Newtown, CT. for making this recording available.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH of David Goldin.
When David Goldin was six, his mother asked him what he wanted for his birthday. In response, young Goldin cupped his ear and replied, "Radio station WOR New York or a big brother." He never got a big brother, but, over the years, he amassed the most comprehensive collection of radio programs in the world, becoming known as "the man who saved radio."
Born in 1942, a child of World War II, J. David Goldin became obsessed with radio while growing up in the Bronx. As a teen, he began collecting 78 rpm records and became a "ham" operator. After graduating Stuyvesent High School, Goldin attended New York University, where he earned a degree in radio production. While at NYU, Goldin launched his career in radio, hosting Varsity Drag, a program featuring 78s and Radio Yesteryear, showcasing old time radio programs.
After leaving NYU, Goldin went to work for KSEW, a 250-watt station on Baronoff Island, Alaska. Goldin recalled: "I was on the air 48 hours a week. I also operated the transmitter, wrote advertising copy (mostly copied from the Sitka Yellow Pages, all 20 of them) and sold time on the station." After a short stint at KSEW, he worked for WVIP in Mt. Kisco, New York, and WHBI-FM in Newark, New Jersey.
Goldin soon moved to the other side of the microphone and became an operating engineer for NBC, Mutual and CBS networks. At CBS he engineered news coverage of the Apollo 11 touchdown on the moon and other historic events. On the side, he began collecting 16" discs of radio programs and formed Radio Yesteryear, a mail order record company. In 1968, Goldin began producing records of vintage radio programs. His first project, Themes Like Old Times, which segued together 90 radio themes was a resounding success. In 1970, Goldin launched his own record label, Radiola, specializing in reissues of programs from the golden age of radio. He won a Grammy in 1981 in the Spoken Word, Documentary or Drama Recording category for his reissue of Donovan's Brain by Orson Welles.
Over the years, Goldin amassed a collection of over 95,000 radio programs. Goldin indexed the programs in his book The Golden Age of Radio, and on his website RadioGoldIndex.com. Since 1994, Goldin has donated over 10,000 16" discs to the Marr Sound Archives in the Miller Nichols Library at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In 2008, the Miller Nichols Library received a $500,000 grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation to catalog the Goldin Collection. Goldin, who is now retired, continues collecting radio programs and vintage radios.
Dr. Tom Muir, currently Director’s Fellow at UT Applied Research Laboratory and also a UT graduate who worked with Professors Lucien LaCoste, Arnold Romberg, Boner, Claude Horton, Dr. Chester McKinney and Professor David Blackstock at UT and ARL, kindly shared several stories about Boner:
“I was having a conversation with him once, about my own organ playing and the difficulties I was having, and he says (something to the effect) ‘..oh Tom, its easy to play the organ, ... if you don’t know the next note, just hold the one you have, until a note comes along that you do know.”
“I had a great aunt who once told me she took a freshman physics course from Prof. Boner, and she swore that he played that organ and served them coffee and doughnuts during the final exam. Hard to believe, but I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Charles Paul Boner career description by his son, Richard E. Boner.
Dr. Charles Paul Boner - vital data Born: 1900, Nocona, Texas
Entered University of Texas, 1916 BA Physics, 1920 (UT)
MA Physics, 1922 (UT)
Whiting Fellow, Harvard University, 1927-28 PhD Physics, 1929 (UT)
Dr. Boner accomplished the rare feat of serving at every position in the University organization, from Freshman through PhD, from Instructor to full Professor, Department Chairman, Dean, and Vice President of the University.
In 1923, he spent one year in commercial radio. During this time, he developed an intense interest in sound and electroacoustics.
During the 1920's, he worked under Professor S. L. Brown of the Physics Department. He helped build and operate the first KUT radio station, and built the first-large scale public address system for Memorial Stadium. At the time, it was one of the most powerful in the United States. Sound was broadcast through 3 groups of megaphones, each measuring 10' X 10'. Each such horn was fed by 4 loudspeakers, with 120 watts of power. Total cost of this early system was $3,000.
During the 1930's, he served as Professor of Physics at UT, including appointment as Chairman of the Department in the late 1930's. During this time, he conducted extensive research on various phases of acoustics, especially in regard to the physics of organ pipes, valve construction of pipe organs, broadcast studios, architectural acoustics, and electroacoustics. He helped pioneer the design of broadcast studios and music rooms employing sound diffusing structures. The design of WFAA-KGKO Studios, atop the Santa Fe Building in Fort Worth was the first such constructed in the United States (1941).
Appointed by the Federal Trade Commission to help settle disputes relating to sounds of electronic organs as compared to those of pipe organs, he devised instrumentation analyzing tonal characteristics, resulting in settlement of a major truth in advertising dispute.
Throughout the 1920's and 1930‘s, Dr. Boner‘s primary hobby was the playing and construction of pipe organs. Beginning in 1934, the University acquired used organ pipes and console material from three unused theater pipe organs. Over the next two years, with the aid of various graduate students, a pipe organ was constructed in the old Physics Building lecture room (now Painter Hall). One of the graduate students engaged in this project was Robert B. Newman, later one of the founders of Bolt, Beranek, and Newman Acoustical Consultants. This organ was used for numerous studies of the acoustical characteristics of radiating pipes up until the early 1940's. It consisted of over 1800 pipes, and was driven by a 12 HP blower, with wind pressure of 5“ to 15" water gauge. There were 169 stops. Total project cost to the University was $3,000.
This four-manual organ was used daily on radio station KNOW, in the University Hour from 5:30 to 6:00. It was also used in the Southwest Network's "Organ Reveries" weekly, with Dr. Boner at the console.
In the early 1940's, Dr. Boner served as acoustical consultant for the new University of Texas Music Building. This radical design was among the first "modern" music buildings in the country using such techniques as angled walls, acoustical diffusion, and spring-isolated floors, walls and ceilings. The design was coordinated with renowned architect George Dahl of Dallas, together with Dr. E. W. Doty, Chairman of the Department of Music.
In 1942, Dr. Boner took a leave of absence from UT to serve as Associate Director, Harvard Underwater Sound Labs. In that position, he played a significant role in the development of advance sonar devices and the acoustic torpedo. It was largely due to these developments that the Allies prevailed in the battle against the submarine menace in the later years of WWII. As a result of his duties at HUSL, Dr. Boner received the Naval Ordnance Award for work in connections with anti-submarine weapons and special torpedoes, and the Joint Army-Navy certificate of appreciation for his contribution to the war effort.
In 1945, Dr. Boner returned to the University of Texas, and formed the Defense Research Laboratories. He served as director of DRL from 1945 to 1965, during which time the lab evolved into a first-rank national institution. The name of the Defense Research Laboratories changed its name in the late 1960's to the Applied Research Laboratories.
In 1949, Dr. Boner founded the Office of Government Sponsored Research (OGSR) at UT. This organization assisted faculty in preparing research proposals, locating sponsors, analyzing technical features of contracts and grants, and in recommending to the Chancellor's office the final disposition of each proposal and agreement.
Also in 1949, Dr. Boner was appointed as Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, and served in that capacity until 1954.
In 1950, Dr. Boner served as a member of the Bureau of Ordnance and Aeroballistics, helping to evaluate the risk of atomic attack.
In 1953, the position of Dean of the University was added to his duties. From 1954 to 1957, he also served as Vice President of Academic Affairs.
In 1957, he returned solely to duties associated with the directorship of DRL. Beginning in 1960, he began a gradual process of transition and retirement from University life (not complete until 1970).
From 1960 through 1973, he successfully developed an independent acoustical consulting firm, still in practice as Boner Associates, Consultants in Acoustics. During these years, he served as consultant of record on numerous public and private facilities of every type. In 1963, he was elected President of the Acoustical Society of America. In the early and mid 1960's, he developed the first successful technique for equalization and feedback control in sound reinforcing systems, using the technique of narrow-band RLC notch filtering. He was awarded three patents during this time for sound system equalization. All sound system equalization in practice today traces back to this development.
Dr. Boner retired gradually from private practice from 1973 to 1976, and died in 1979.
Charles P. Boner Photo and Memorabilia Album