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N.J. Man On A Mission To Recognize Yonkers Genius

YONKERS, N.Y. – A New Jersey man is determined to honor one of Yonkers’ brightest inventors.

For months, New Jersey motorcyclist Steve Klose has been working to make sure Edwin Armstrong , once called "the most prolific and influential inventor in radio history," is given proper recognition in the city he once called home.

The man who created FM radio lived in Yonkers for much of his childhood, but, surprisingly, there is no memorial in the city commemorating his work, Klose said.

“He was one of the great minds of the 20th century, yet he’s not a household name,” Klose said. “I want to make people aware he was from Yonkers. He was a genius. He should be recognized as that.”

Born in New York City in 1890, Armstrong and his family moved to a home at 1032 Warburton Ave. when he was 12 years old. Years later, as an undergraduate student at Columbia University, Armstrong created several inventions in his parents’ attic in Yonkers, including a circuit used in most 20th-century radios.

In 1937, Armstrong developed his most notable accomplishment when he created FM radio technology. A year later, he constructed the first FM radio station in Alpine, N.J., along with the Alpine Tower.

The 425-foot tower that led to modern FM radio still stands today, overlooking Yonkers and the Hudson River from its perch high in the Palisades of New Jersey.

It was that tower, a constant sight for Klose as he rode his motorcycle through the Hudson Valley, that first sparked his interest in Armstrong.

After a tour of the radio tower this year, Klose visited the site of the inventor’s former Warburton Avenue home, now an apartment complex. Unfortunately, Klose said, a memorial for Armstrong was nowhere to be found.

“I was surprised,” Klose said, noting that across the street from Armstrong's former home stands a bronze monument dedicated to Henry Hudson and steamboat inventor Robert Fulton.

“This guy probably contributed at least as much as they have, and I wondered how come he has not been recognized like they have,” Klose said.

And so the crusade began. Klose wrote to City Council members and met with a city historian, hoping to get permission to place a marker at the Greystone train station on Warburton Avenue to commemorate Armstrong’s work.

Despite pledging to cover all the costs associated with the plaque, estimated to be around $4,000, Klose hasn't been able to overcome the biggest hurdle – getting permission from City Hall.

“It seems like something that’s pretty simple,” he said. “And I think it’s something that’s very appropriate.”

Klose pledged to continue working to erect the plaque honoring the creator of FM radio, but said on his blog that "as far as a monument is concerned, the tower will have to suffice for now."

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