Sarkes Tarzian

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Sarkes Tarzian
Born (1900-10-05)October 5, 1900
Elâzığ, Elazığ Province, Turkey
Died November 17, 1987(1987-11-17) (aged 87)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Alma mater University of Pennsylvania
Spouse(s) Mary Mangigian (1930–1987, his death)

Sarkes Tarzian (October 5, 1900 – November 17, 1987) was an Ottoman-born American engineer, inventor, and broadcaster. He was ethnic Armenian born in the Ottoman Empire. He and his family immigrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States in 1907, following their persecution by Ottoman Turks.[1] "His father escaped to America from the Turkish massacres of Armenians, and got a job as a weaver."In 1918, he was the top high school graduate in the city of Philadelphia, earning him a four-year, all-expenses-paid college scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania[2] where he received an undergraduate degree in 1924 and a graduate degree in 1927. Tarzian worked for the Atwater Kent company and then for RCA in Bloomington, Indiana.

He founded the manufacturing company Sarkes Tarzian Enterprises in 1944, and was involved in early experiments in VHF audio broadcasting in 1946. In May of that year, he began operating a 200 watt experimental AM station, W9XHZ, on 87.75 MHz in Bloomington. He used the station to provide programming to the local community, including Indiana University and Bloomington High School Football games, special events, and live band music from local high schools. Because standard AM radios could not tune to his station's high frequency, Tarzian modified a small number of sets himself and distributed them throughout the community.[3] The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had recently established the FM radio band on 88.1-107.9 Mhz, but FM receivers were expensive purchases. After two years of successful operation of what he referred to as his "HIFAM" station,[4] in 1948 Tarzian proposed that the FCC allocate a small high-frequency HIFAM broadcast band, saying that an affordable $5.95 converter could be added to existing AM radios to make them capable of receiving the HIFAM stations.[5] (This idea was essentially a revival of the "Apex band", which had been discontinued in 1941.) Tarzian continued to operate his experimental station, which eventually became KS2XAP, until 1950, although by then its transmitting hours were greatly restricted, as the FCC required the station to remain off the air whenever nearby WFBM-TV in Indianapolis was broadcasting, because the TV station's audio transmitter used the same frequency as Tarzian's station.[6] Moreover, after the station's final license expired on June 1, 1950, the FCC denied Tarzian any further renewals,[7]

Tarzian was a member of the Rotary Club. In 1949 he started television station WTTV in Bloomington. He sold that station in 1978.

The Sarkes Tarzian company was an important manufacturer of radio and television equipment, television tuners, and components. Its FM radio receivers helped to popularize the broadcast medium. Sarkes Tarzian manufactured studio color TV cameras in the mid 60's.[8] The manufacturing operations were spun off in the 1970s and today the company still exists as a broadcaster, owning several television and radio stations. Gray Television has owned a partial stake in Sarkes Tarzian, Inc., since the early 2000s.

He was survived by his wife Dr Mary Mangigian Tarzian (August 22, 1905 – July 7, 1998). They had two children.

The Sarkes and Mary Tarzian Nature Preserve in Bloomington, Indiana, commemorates their names.

Further reading[edit]

  • Delbert Charles Miller, The history of Sarkes Tarzian, Inc: The story of Sarkes Tarzian and Mary Tarzian and the industrial company they built, 1993


  1. ^ "Couple Have Hobby Giving Scholarships", The (Lakeland, Florida) Ledger, July 10, 1974, page 2D.
  2. ^ "Sarkes Tarzian" by Norman Sklarewitz, The Rotarian, June 1955, pages 19-20.]
  3. ^ "Sarkes Tarzian and His HiFAM Experiment" by Andrew Mitz, Radio Age, July 2004.
  4. ^ "HiFam Radio Bans Static with Gadget" (AP), Williamsport (Pennsylvania) Sun-Gazette, June 27, 1947, page 9. "HIFAM" was a contraction of "high frequency amplitude modulation".
  5. ^ "HIFAM" by Larry Christopher, Broadcasting/Telecasting, May 3, 1948, pages 22, 72.
  6. ^ "HIFAM Renewal", Broadcasting/Telecasting, April 24, 1950, page 75.
  7. ^ "HIFAM Renewal", Broadcasting/Telecasting, June 5, 1950, page 46.
  8. ^ Sklarewitz, Norman (June 1955). "Hometown TV Man". The Rotarian. p. 19. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 

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