Public radio pioneer Wayne Hetrich — known at NPR as "Mr. Wizard" — has died at 79. He was one of the original 30 employees of NPR Inc. in 1971.
Hetrich was called Mr. Wizard because he used to walk around NPR performing magic tricks. He even carried flash paper in his pocket. He was also an accomplished keyboard musician and a pilot.
When Hetrich received a patent for developing the Netcue system that allows local stations to record network programming, it was put into a trophy case with the altered caption, "NPR's First Patient."
But Hetrich's most magical trick was helping to create the public radio satellite system, which lead to the system over which all programs are heard today.
NPR was the first network in the United States to be beamed by satellite.
And when NPR almost went out of business during a financial crisis in the early 1980's, it was the satellite system that Hetrich devised that allowed NPR to secure the loan that kept it on the air.