Haverhill Public Library Helps WHAV Celebrate First FM Station Launch 74 Years Ago Today

The original 1947 WHAV transmitter building, still in use today by 97.9 WHAV.

The Haverhill Public Library today is helping WHAV celebrate another milestone—the first of what would be three different launches of WHAV over FM radio that took place 74 years ago.

The library is sharing its Special Collections’ archive of WHAV on social media to commemorate the debut of the FM station April 14, 1948. The original FM signal came a year after the launch of an AM station. The FM would turn out to be ahead of its time, ending in 1952.

WHAV-FM’s launch was accompanied at the time by a note describing the advantages over AM radio.

“FM is the latest in radio transmission with a strong appeal because of its noise-free reception. FM is able to overcome nearly all static, fading and station interference and improves the natural color tone. Fidelity of tone is one of its major accomplishments,” said a statement 74 years ago.

A second incarnation of WHAV-FM took place in 1959. An announcer who called himself “Bob Douglas” voiced WHAV’s program tests.

“This is WHAV-FM in Haverhill Massachusetts. We are program testing our new transmitter on 92.5 megacycles with an effective radiated power of 20,000 watts. We would appreciate a card from you, telling where you live, the strength of the signal you hear, the quality of the broadcast and the time of the day you heard us.”

Douglas would become well known more than a decade later using his real name, Bob Clinkscale, as a channel 5 news anchor.

Today’s 97.9 WHAV is the third WHAV FM station to broadcast from the original 1947 transmitter building on Silver Hill.

For a closer look at WHAV on FM over the years, click here.

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