Tuesday, June 9, 2015

June 9 Radio History

In 1934…In Alpine, New Jersey, Edwin Howard Armstrong conducted the first successful field test of FM radio.
Edwin Howard Armstrong

In 1934, Armstrong began working for RCA at the request of the president of RCA, David Sarnoff. Sarnoff and Armstrong first met at a boxing match involving Jack Dempsey in 1920. At the time Sarnoff was a young executive with an interest in new technologies, including radio broadcasting.  In the early 1920s Armstrong drove off with Sarnoff's secretary, Marion MacInnes, in a French sports car. Armstrong and MacInnes were married in 1923.  While Sarnoff was understandably impressed with Armstrong's FM system, he also understood that it was not compatible with his own AM empire. Sarnoff came to regard FM as a threat and refused to support it any further.

From May 1934 until October 1935, Armstrong conducted the first large scale field tests of his FM radio technology from a laboratory constructed by RCA on the 85th floor of the Empire State Building. An antenna attached to the spire of the building fired radio waves at receivers about 80 miles away.  However, RCA had its eye on television broadcasting, and chose not to buy the patents for the FM technology.  A June 17, 1936, presentation at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) headquarters made headlines nationwide. He played a jazz record over conventional AM radio, then switched to an FM broadcast. "[I]f the audience of 50 engineers had shut their eyes they would have believed the jazz band was in the same room. There were no extraneous sounds," noted one reporter. He added that several engineers described the invention "as one of the most important radio developments since the first earphone crystal sets were introduced."

In 1937, Armstrong financed construction of the first FM radio station, W2XMN, a 40 kilowatt broadcaster in Alpine, New Jersey. The signal (at 42.8 MHz) could be heard clearly 100 miles (160 km) away, despite the use of less power than an AM radio station.

Flashback:  From R&R June 9, 1985

In 1993...the U.S. Postal Service rolled out its "Legends of American Music, Rock and Roll-Rhythm and Blues" stamp collection. The set featured many Radio hit makers including: Bill Haley, Buddy Holly, Clyde McPhatter, Otis Redding, Ritchie Valens, Dinah Washington, and Elvis Presley.

In 1996...Jack Lacy radio personality at 1010 WINS NYC died.

Lacy was heard on WINS-AM from the late 1940's through 1965, died on June 9 at San Juan de Dios Hospital in San Sebastian, Spain. He was 79 and had lived in San Sebastian since 1989.

Anyone who lived in the New York tri-state area in the 1950s and early 60s will remember the great Jack Lacy. His breezy, casual disc jockey style kept listeners locked down to 1010 WINS Radio for hours on end. He would sell laundry soap with the same smooth flair as he announced the latest hit record. Lacys eighteen year gig with WINS began in 1947 playing out the end of the swing era and transitioning to 50s pop. As the evolving sound of radio turned to rock & roll, his fish out of water personality really gave permission for a maturing audience to enjoy the new beat.

Lacy was a contemporary of such veterans of the airwaves as Murray (the K) Kaufman and Bruce (Cousin Brucie) Morrow. His "Listen to Lacy" program on WINS treated his audience to "easy listening" music and live interviews. He left WINS when it changed to all news, after which he worked for stations in Baltimore and Los Angeles.

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