Talk about the chicken and the egg. Emil Torick had the technology for improved FM stereo reception. The question was, who could he get to buy it first -- broadcasters or radio manufacturers? Listeners wouldn't benefit until radios were updated, but manufacturers would have no incentive to improve radios before stations broadcast the enhanced signal.

Torick turned to broadcasters. "You expect them to take a bit of the lead," he says, as they did with standard FM stereo. Besides, CBS and the National Association of Broadcasters were helping the cause. Torick was at CBS when he developed the technology with NAB; when CBS spun it off in 1987, both companies retained partial ownership of the new Broadcast Technology Partners.

Already, some 140 radio stations have converted to "FMX Stereo," and a smattering of new car radios are touting the hiss-free signal. "In the long run," predicts Torick, "you won't be able to sell a radio without the FMX logo."

-- Leslie Brokaw