PROFILE OF BERNIE MARSTON CPBE
(written circa 1970)
If anyone at KHOF rates the degree of Wizard of Electronics it is Walter B. “Bernie” Marston, Operations Manager and Chief Engineer of Faith Broadcasting Network.
It was Bernie who salvaged the TV antenna for a saving of more than $25,000 and who built much of the television transmitter equipment at a saving of $100,000 or more.
Bernie was a part-time volunteer operator and engineering consultant for KHOF-FM in 1957 and 1958 before becoming co-owner of a Christian FM radio station in Bakersfield. A resident of the San Gabriel Valley for 31 years, he attended schools in Arcadia, Monrovia, and Pomona College. During WW II he made precision measuring instruments and supervised a gage laboratory that served as “Bureau of Standards” for Southern California. In 1948 he founded his own business making French horn rotary valves. After leaving Bakersfield he relocated in South Pasadena to make electronic equipment and FM transmitters. Again he served as consultant to KHOF-FM which led in 1967 to accept the full-time project of building KHOF-TV.
Married 28 years to his wife, Leila, a reading specialist teaching in the South Pasadena School District, the couple has two children. Daughter Janet is a librarian on the faculty at Cal State Long Beach, while son John attends Cal State Los Angeles and makes French horn valves.
Bernie’s hobbies are water skiing and playing the French horn.
Blessed with Christian parents and raised in a fundamental (Southern) Methodist church, he accepted Christ as Savior at the age of 13 at a church camp. He was brought into Pentecostal fellowship while courting his wife. Bernie says “I have earnestly sought the Lord’s leading in all major decisions of my life, and I firmly believe that He directed me to KHOF-TV at the exact time when I could be most useful for His work.”
NOTE: After KHOF-TV Channel 30 was successfully put on the air Bernie Marston as FBN Director of Engineering continued to provide consultation and “hands on” construction assistance in the addition of KVOF-TV Channel 38 San Francisco, WHCT Channel 18 in Hartford, CT and KIFM-FM Bakersfield to Faith Broadcasting Network. After leaving FBN in 1978 he provided his engineering expertise to several other Christian television and FM stations including the first television station on the north peak of Mt. Diablo in northern California. He spent the final years of his professional career as Chief Radio/Television Engineer for the Long Beach Unified School District that operated an FM broadcast station and provided four channels of Instructional Television to the 110 schools in the District. Now (2012) in retirement at age 89 in Orange County, CA he spends his time playing with computers, restoring old Fords, tending a small avocado grove and enjoying the company of his wife, friends and his extended family.
BERNIE’S POST FBN ACTIVITIES
Here are a couple of the activities Bernie took on after he left FBN. Bernie’s interest in his roots led him to write about his grandfather’s and father’s adventures in homesteading a piece of ground just north of Victorville California, called Turtle Valley. He wrote about this in a story titled “The Saga of Turtle Valley.” On the right is a map showing the location of the well his father dug to bring water to his homestead. Zoom in on the balloon and switch to the satellite mode to get a birds-eye view of the concrete pad surrounding the well casing.
Clicking on the picture with the title on the left will download a PDF document of Bernie’s story which is rather interesting.
Earlier, Bernie mentioned construction of TV station, KFCB, atop the North Peak of Mt. Diablo. Bernie writes about his experience in building the station. You can read the PDF document of his story by clicking the picture of the TV set on the left. The map on the right shows the original location of the transmitter site that Bernie writes about. The station has since changed ownership, call sign and relocated to the South Peak of Mt. Diablo. Zoom in on the balloon for a close up look of the original transmitter site. Click this call sign, KFCB, for information on the current station with some history.
Bernie served for a short time as a Merchant Marine in the latter part of World War II. He served on the Standard Oil Tanker W. S. Rheem transporting fuel from Southern California to the Pacific Northwest. Bernie documented his experience back in 2001. As a man with seemingly endless talents, we thought it appropriate to share his experience on this web page as he found himself in some interesting situations while serving on this ship. Click on the picture of the official Merchant Marine Flag on the right to read Bernie’s story.
© 2015 - 2017 Joe Snelson
DECEMBER 16, 1922 - JULY 26, 2017
COMMENTS FROM FBN COWORKERS
Alex Valderama, FBN Graphic Artist
The faith journey we travel in life always promises great relationships with wonderful people. Bernie was one of those people...kind, soft-spoken, and wise. It was a blessing to know him as we journeyed together at KHOF. It always amazes me, especially while I'm in my senior years that in our youthful times we don't even think about our friends and associates approaching their final days. It saddens me that Bernie has gone - has moved away from this earth. But I am happy that his journey has sent him upward and onward with our Creator. Rest in peace, Bernie.
Steve Kaufler, FBN Engineer
I am so sorry to hear about Bernie. Only a couple of nights ago I was playing catch up and reading your post [on the FBN web site] about the true pioneer Bernie was. During my brief time at KHOF-TV, Bernie was always there whenever I needed support, with a rare warmth and dedication as he provided it. This is what inspired me to reach out to you and your website a few years back.
Byron Mobus, Chief Engineer and General Manager, KHOF-FM
Reading the bio on Bernie brought back some memories from way back and I thought you might like add them to your work.
I first met Bernie thru my folks as we attended the Full Gospel Tabernacle (A of G) at 17th & O Streets in Bakersfield, CA. Bernie had partnered with Elward “Robbie” Robertson who was in charge of the sound system at the church and taught me how to operate it. Elward was a lineman for PG&E and while he was up on a 40’ pole, a line snapped and he burned the pole down to the ground, landing on his butt with his arms down to break the fall. He broke both wrists and I would ride my bike out to his house to be his “hands” on radio projects until they healed. He mentored me in electronics.
In the late 1940s, Bernie and Elward obtained an old FM transmitter that had a burned out high voltage transformer. They got a pole “pig” line transformer, probably from PG&E, and hooked it up backward with the low voltage windings to the station power panel breaker box and the high voltage winding hooked to the rectifier circuit in the transmitter. The transformer was too big to go in the small transmitter building so it was set outside in a lean to with the wires going thru the wall to the transmitter. They erected a tower and dog house on a lot on Belle Terrace, about a 1/2 mile east of where I lived on the same street, broadcasting as KQXR FM. Broadcasting was from this studio/transmitter location. Bernie had brought his manufacturing machinery up from South Pasadena and continued to manufacture French horn valve sets while operating the FM station.
After I left Bakersfield, I lost contact with Bernie and Elward. Thru a chance meeting with Jack French in Los Gatos, CA, who was with Family Radio in San Francisco at the time, I learned that he had been hired as General Manager of KHOF FM in Glendale. I was a criminal Investigator for the Santa Clara County District Attorney in San Jose but had a First Class license which would be needed as Chief Engineer. Jack needed a Chief Engineer for KHOF and convinced me to quit law enforcement and join him in Glendale as his Chief Engineer. I had never worked on an FM transmitter but learned that Bernie was back in South Pasadena, still making French horn valve sets. I contacted him at his shop and arranged for him to mentor me and act as back up at the station. I acted as back up for his back ground music service that was on a multiplex sub channel of our station. He eventually was hired by the church board to take over the development of the construction permit for KHOF TV, as it was at the point of being canceled by the FCC because of the lack of progress in building the station. Bernie and I went back to Washington, DC where we got an extension of the construction permit and came home to start building the transmitter in his shop in South Pasadena and arrange for a transmitter site on Sunset Ridge above San Bernardino. We helped build the transmitter building and installed the transmitter, tower, antenna and associated equipment on site. We also built a microwave system from Faith Center in Glendale to Eagle Rock where the FM transmitter was, then on to Sunset Ridge. The audio for the FM station was dropped off at Eagle Rock saving the cost of a broadcast telephone line and the video and audio for the TV went on to the TV site.
When Jack French left KHOF to start a Christian FM station in Las Vegas, I moved on to General Manager while helping Bernie to build the TV transmitter at his shop. I eventually left to become General Manager of QRK Electronics in Fresno but Bernie stayed on at KHOF, building the production studios at a former hardware store on Broadway in Glendale and over seeing other projects for Faith Center.
The year was 1970. I had been “summoned” by Rick Quintana to help out at KHOF-TV in the taping of the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International program. Rick had also been bugging me about coming to work at KHOF. One evening, before taping started, I met the Chief Engineer of KHOF-FM-TV, Bernie Marston. It is interesting how some people we meet during our walk here on earth can change your life. Bernie did mine! While I could go into detail, I will telescope my tribute by saying I know I wouldn’t have advanced in my career of over 45 years in the broadcasting industry to where I am today had it not been for working with Bernie. In the six short years I worked for him I learned more from his tutelage than I could ever have imagined. Yet, he didn’t formally train me. Just observing Bernie working on projects and seeing how he went about bringing them to completion burned deep into my mind. Even after leaving Faith Center to branch out on my own and be my own Chief Engineer, when faced with a challenging situation I would often ask myself, “How would Bernie deal with this.” I know the Lord would pop into my mind the solution and I would proceed ahead. Bernie and I remained close friends through the years and we would typically speak monthly. In fact we spoke just a few weeks before he stepped into the glorious presence of his Lord and Savior. I thank God he allowed Bernie and I to meet up and become close friends. It further proves to me what the Bible says, “The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord.” I thank Him for ordering my steps and look forward to the day when I will be reunited with family, friends and all the Faith Center team. You ran a good race, Bernie, and finished well!
Tim Schoch, Linda Schoch-Davis & Al Davis:
We don't think of FBN without remembering Bernie. He was a big part of that ministry. We considered Bernie to be a special blessing from the Lord to us. God had given Dad [Pastor Ray Schoch] the desire for the ministry of Christian television. He had even provided the beginning funds necessary to start the process. But we didn't have the right personnel to actually begin the construction. Bernie had been involved with KHOF-FM and thru a series of events, he came on board to take on the job of putting KHOF-TV on the air. His quiet strength and love of a challenge made him the perfect counter part to Dad's ministry. All was well if Bernie was involved in the vision for the project.
We rarely heard a “no” from Bernie when presented with an idea or challenge. He was exactly the right person to head up the jobs needed for Faith Broadcasting Network. Faith was the foundation of our church and God brought us many opportunities to test it. It was sometimes our privilege to listen to Dad and Bernie discuss them and see their eyes light up and hear the excitement as they felt the vision take hold.
Bernie never sought any acclaim or glory for his incredible ability to figure things out and solve problems that many would have abandoned. Whether it was a damaged antenna or needed personnel he would work it out, or find the right people to get it done. For Bernie and his team, it always seemed that nothing was impossible if he was on board. Bernie's faith in God and in his own abilities gave him the courage and confidence to overcome the obstacles. The Lord often used Bernie for issues that came under the Faith Center motto of "But God".
We were blessed to be able to work under Bernie in different aspects of Faith Center, beginning in the offices and maintenance departments and ending in the Production and Programming Departments. Our lives were definitely affected along with many others, by this gentle genius that would sweep floors or build transmitters.. Thank you Lord for Bernie, he finished his earthly project well.
Seldom in life’s daily routine do we fully realize how what we are presently doing will affect our future life. My 13 months at KHOF impacted me in so many ways. Bernie Marston can only be likened to “the Force”, he was always close by and made his wisdom known, often in a quiet yet forceful way. As a young television “producer” I was an engineer’s worst nightmare. I was always asking to do something that a new shoe-string TV station could barely handle - - - but GOD and Bernie. Somehow he grew up without knowing the meaning of CAN’T. He was worth his weight in gold for Faith Center’s broadcasting ministries. Ray Schoch had the visions, Bernie had the know-how. They both earned their rich and well-deserved rewards.
On Wednesday, July 26, 2017, Bernie Marston went home to be with the Lord. As mentioned on this page, and throughout this web site, Bernie played a pivotal role in the broadcast ministries of Faith Center.
Bernie was an extremely multi-talented individual. He was a mechanical genius as has been pointed out in his experiences mentioned on this page ranging from when he was in the Merchant Marines, making french horn valves, fabricating audio limiters and building a Christian television and radio network.
Bernie held an FCC First Class Radiotelephone Operators License.
Bernie was a charter member, #163, of the Society of Broadcast Engineers formed in 1964. He was recognized by the Society as a Certified Professional Broadcast Engineer (CPBE). The picture in the memoriam above was published in the October 2017 issue of The Signal, a bi-monthly publication of the SBE and we thank them for allowing us to use it here.
Comments from FBN coworkers
REMEMBERING BERNIE MARSTON
Pictured above on the left is Paul Geyer with Bernie on the right
I [Byron] was a little (lot) inexperienced and needed some help as I had never worked on an FM station [speaking of KHOF-FM]. Jack [Jack French was the General Manager at the time] said that there was an engineer, named Bernie Marston, that had a sub-channel on the station for his back ground music service in exchange for engineering help when needed. I went to see him at his shop in South Pasadena, where he manufactured French horn valve sets for French horn makers as Marston Mechanical Specialties. When he was in high school, he went to an academy where he roomed with a fellow named Buescher whose father owned Buescher Musical Instruments. Bernie was asked by the orchestra teacher to play French horn as they were short of them. He was able to get a single French horn but most everyone else had doubles. Bernie made a set of valves and made the single into a double with the appropriate tubing, which he cut and bent. When his room mate showed it to his father, he said that he would buy any valve sets that Bernie would make, thus starting his valve business.
The picture of Bernie above was in the shop of one of his customers, Paul Geyer, in Chicago, a famous manufacturer of custom French horns, that we visited. All of Geyer’s horns had Marston valve sets. Any serious French horn player knows of Geyer French horns.
Bernie is survived by his daughter Janet and his son John. Bernie’s vast knowledge, experience and talents will be missed. His contributions to furthering the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus will long be remembered and multiplied through the lives of many Christian bothers and sisters that found the Lord because of Bernie’s work.
Byron Mobus contributed the photos below along with some background.