Q: I always listened to AM rock when I was a kid, way before FM took over. When did FM arrive?

A: The FM frequency was first demonstrated in 1940, created by Edwin Howard Armstrong, called "the most prolific and influential inventor in radio history." In 1937 Armstrong financed the building of the first FM radio station, W2XMN in Alpine, New Jersey. Even though it used LESS power than AM stations, it could be heard for up to 100 miles away. This ticked off the suits (CEO's) at RCA, who owned lots of AM stations; so they began lobbying for an FCC regulation that would prevent FM radios from becoming dominant. In 1954 - distraught over years of fighting with the established radio owners - Armstrong committed suicide by jumping from the 13th floor of his apartment building. Armstrong had spent 90% of his time on litigations against RCA and it finally wore him down. Later, in the 1960's, true stereophonic broadcasting on FM was developed by General Electric which finally achieved an FM stereo broadcast from the FCC in 1961. It was so successful and “fresh” that soon hundreds of radio stations were switching over to FM. After even more years and a couple of decades, FM finally surpassed AM as far as popularity and sales. 

Send me YOUR question!

TWENTY YEARS AGO!