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George Meguiar

Public Affairs, NASA

George Meguiar had the deep authoritative voice. He knew about as much about space technology as any other reporter in the early days and had the perfect outlet, WRKT, Rocket Radio, for his broadcasts of the launches from Mercury through Apollo 10.

Meguiar was news director for WRKT but also was heard on several other 50,000-watt radio stations and the English language stations operated worldwide by Voice of America. For his help in covering the Apollo 1 fire, he received a letter of appreciation from the NBC radio network.

However, there was a certain learning curve the media had to go through as they began to cover the new technology. Meguiar recalls one early rocket launch he was reporting live and as it ascended he reported lift off, flight through the atmosphere and then the flash when the first stage separated from the second stage. As he talked about the “wonderful view” of staging, another reporter yelled at him…”You dumb (so and so) it blew up.” Meguiar quickly corrected his report and never made that mistake again…however, other on air reporters did.

Interviewing some officials presented their own challenges, particularly if the interview was live. On one Polaris launch, Meguiar was interviewing an un-named official as the rocket blew up spectacularly, showering the surrounding area with a cloud of burning debris. Meguiar said to the official, “The Polaris seems to have a problem.” The official said simply, “No.” Meguiar pressed ahead saying, “What is all that flaming debris, then?” The official said, “I don’t see anything.”

In 1969, Gordon Harris, then director of public affairs for NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, recommended he be hired as a marketing specialist by TWServices which operated the Kennedy Visitor Center.

Appointed the first marketing director for the visitor center, he spent 25 years building visitation through ad campaigns, a visiting travel agent program, and workshops and conferences around the globe. Meguiar also made scores of visits to schools in dozens of states along with a TWServices presenter in a space suit. They made presentations about the space program and answered questions from the students. He was particularly pleased to do a program for his grandchildren and their classmates in Atlanta.

During his tenure, visitation went from a few hundred thousand to 3.2 million visitors a year.

Born in Lawrenceville, Ind., Meguiar attended school in Greenville, Ohio and earned his Bachelor’s degree in business from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. Following college he entered the music business as a singer, instrument demonstrator and salesman for the LeBlanc Company with a territory including Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Accepting an offer to come to Florida, Meguiar spent some time in Gainesville and Tallahassee before moving to Cocoa Beach. There he caught the eye of John Fox, the owner of WRKT and Meguiar accepted his offer to join the station in 1958.

Meguiar was active in the community and served as president of the Canaveral Press Club for three years. He was selected by the club as the Outstanding Member in 1967.