TO DIE FOR
Edwin Armstrong was an electrical
engineer who pioneered the concept of FM broadcasting in the 1930s.
And RCA (parent company of NBC and the "Microsoft" of broadcasting in the
'30s and '40s) wanted the whole silly idea of "non-fading, static free"
FM radio quashed, believing it would threaten 'standard' (i.e., AM) broadcasting
... not to mention taking up valuable space which RCA sought for television.
In 1954, distraught over all the
mounting legal bills for this renegade inventor, Armstrong -- neatly dressed
in coat, hat and gloves -- took his own life, jumping from the 13th floor
window of his apartment.
a short bio of Edwin Armstrong.
FM remained a stepchild for the
time being. For instance, WAFM was little more than a repeater station
for its 'main' AM sister, WAPI. Sports events and specialty programs
aside, stations like WAFM (which evolved into the present-day WYSF 94.5)
wouldn't come into their own until the 1970s. Meanwhile, the FM band
was basically a money-losing 'niche' service, catering to jazz and classical
music lovers and, yes, afficionados of easy listening (i.e. "elevator music").
FM would not be a serious contender
in Birmingham until 1977, when stations like K-99, KICKS 106, WZZK and
WBHM brought "88-108" to life!
And today, FM is far and away the
dominant radio medium. Mr. Armstrong had the last laugh.