Radio Industry Mourns Loss Of Legendary Engineer


The co-inventor of the original Orban Optimod FM audio processor and founder of Modulation Sciences, who once served as Chief Engineer for RKO Radio-owned WXLO-FM (99X) in New York in the 1970s, has died after being struck by a vehicle in a supermarket parking lot in Delray Beach, Fla. He was 71.

Eric Small was one of two people killed on Thursday (3/15) after 80-year-old Sarah Agosta lost control of her vehicle. Small was exiting a Publix supermarket and was struck, as Agosta’s car crashed into the store. The cause of the incident is under investigation.

Small began his radio industry career in 1964 at former GAF-owned Classical WNCN-FM 104.3 in New York. In 1969, he became a member of the technical department at A&R Recording under Phil Ramone, one of the most prolific producers/engineers in the music industry. He then went on 99X, following its transition from WOR-FM.
In 1974, Eric co-invented the original Optimod, which was quickly embraced by FM radio stations across the U.S. just as car adapters were leading the transition of AOR and Top 40 listeners from static-filled AM stations.

Small’s career diverted from radio, as he served as an an aerospace hardware and software designer for the visual portion of the F/A-18 combat flight simulator.

But, he returned to broadcasting in 1981, founding Modulation Sciences, serving the radio and TV industries.

Small was one of the first broadcast industry engineers to report to the World Trade Center site in New York following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, loaning equipment where needed and helping broadcasters return to the air with stereo audio.

Jim Davis, owner and CEO of ExtremeCom Corp., said, “If you have worked in the broadcasting business for any time at all, chances are you had one of Rick’s inventions. He co-invented the Optimod; He invented microgroove recording for Columbia records as well as numerous inventions for the television, cable and radio industry. The list is impressive.”

Hallie Swerdlin, former President of Modulation Sciences, recalled, “Eric was a brilliant yet humble man whose dedication to both television and radio, was undeniable. He treasured his work family at Modulation Sciences, many of whom worked with him for many years. He was a very special man who I was proud to call my boss and my friend.”

Eric is survived by his wife Roberta; loving children Gary Moskoff and Eric (Shannon) Moskoff; cherished grandchildren Avi, Tessa and Aiden; dear sister Linda (Don) Sussman.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Chabad Jewish Center of Monroe, 261 Gravel Hill Road, Monroe Township, NJ 08831, or Chabad of Boca Raton, 7950 North Military Trail, Boca Raton, FL 33496.