Major Armstrong’s Alpine Tower

The six-armed tower off 9W near PIP Exit 2 has great historical significance. It was the site of the first FM radio broadcast by inventor Edwin H. Armstrong. The odd thing is that Armstrong was in a very long lasting patent war with David Sarnoff, once board chairman of RCA, over FM radio. Despondent over this, Armstrong jumped out his window to his death in 1954. His widow followed through and eventually won the suit.

If one could wait for the irony, after the loss of the Tri-State area’s primary television broadcasting site, the World Trade Center, the Alpine tower was used as an interim broadcast site until the Empire State Building could be retrofit for more broadcast antennas. Friends who were alienated by a bitter legal battle, Edwin Armstrong came to the aid of David Sarnoff many years after their deaths when NBC’s flagship station (once owned by RCA before being sold to GE) aired from Armstrong’s tower.

A broadcast hobbyist and manufacturer has an experimental license from the FCC to transmit on 44.1 MHz (the original FM band was below TV channel 2) from the tower in commemoration of Armstrong’s original broadcasts.


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