Radio Poseur

I am loving writing songs that are stories about American Oddballs . . . .

Lee de Forest
Radio huckster
Circuit breaker
Legal mucker

Copycat maker
Legal loser
Copyright faker
Self promoter

Made the triode
Accidental hacker
Tweaked a diode
Radio Quacker

Opportunist
Co-operator
Minor player
Grand parader

Some folk do
While Others talk
Some skip steps
But doers walk

Let us raise
Our glasses high
For the doers
On Radio KRY

Chorus
Radio Quacker
Self promoter
Legal mucker
Radio poseur

in a nutshell

  • Lee deForest accidentally invented the Triode – adding a grid to Fessenden’s invention
  • If he wasn’t so boastful and litigious he would not have lost so much money and reputation
  • He tried to Shanghai others patents – and spent too much time in legal battles
  • He totally screwed over Major Edwin Armstrong – a true inventor hero like Tesla
  • “Empire of the Air” painted him in a terrible light – darker than most history books do
  • Even Radio KRY gets in on the fun!

discussion

One of my favorite tech books and documentaries is “Empire of the Air”, which is about the invention of radio. Two characters emerged that I did not care for – Lee deForest (Larry Bud Melmans great uncle) and David Sarnoff – president of NBC. These guys were not portrayed in a flattering way in that documentary – you should watch it or read the book – its fascinating.

In many ways, deForest is / was very similar to Donald Trump – a narcissistic opportunist big mouth – who would have done much better keeping their big traps shut and staying away from so many lawsuits. These guys were their own worst enemies – they drew attention to themselves that achieved exactly the opposite of what they set out to achieve – and like deForest, Trump will be seen as just another crazy American character that was more myth than legend. Flying under the radar for these guys would have kept their myth alive as a legend. It would have been great for their ego . . .

theme

American inventor who crossed a bridge too far – like Mary Trumps book “Too Much and Never Enough”. A classic age old tale.

conclusion

I would have believed that he was a great inventor and father of radio – but when you read about Armstrong, Marconi, Chandra Bose, Fessenden, Maxwell and many others – deForest comes across in a very negative light. HOWEVER – I loved his great nephew, Calvert deForest, aka “Larry Bud Melman” on the David Letterman Show. Calvert was a comedy hero for sure!

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