Making a Connection: Ed Hawkins

Thank you for connecting, thank you for giving, thank you for keeping the stories of Baltimore’s industrial history alive. We are stronger with you.

Long before he became one of the BMI’s most popular educators, Samuel “Ed” Hawkins was sharing his love of radio with others.

As a child, Ed read books on electronics at the public library and built primitive crystal radios to communicate with his parents in their northeast Baltimore home. He later joined the Navy as an electronics technician and helped train submariners in ship-to-shore radio signaling. Ed later took advanced classes at the Baltimore Technical Institute and briefly worked as an electronics instructor for the school.

Not surprisingly, Ed’s expertise led to a long career in broadcasting. From 1955 to 1980, he worked at local radio station WITH as chief engineer and station manager. Ed had many accomplishments at WITH, including rebuilding the station’s AM and FM transmitters, launching its first news helicopter, automating many of its broadcasts, and developing a weekday call-in program featuring Baltimore Mayor William Donald Schaefer.

Following an equally successful second career selling broadcast equipment, Ed and his late-wife Hilda joined the BMI as museum educators in 2002. Wearing his trademark Baltimore straw hat, Ed shared his knowledge of Baltimore’s radio industry with tens of thousands of school children before retiring in early 2020. Asked why he has continued to support the BMI all these years, Ed’s answer was simple: “I love this place and I love the kids.”

Learn more about one of Ed’s favorite topics—radio!


Explore the exhibition, Tap-Talk-Text: Telecommunications in Maryland


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