Christmas Explosions 74 Years Ago Destroy Mr. Tilton’s Tower, Give Birth to WHAV

(An earlier version of this story appeared in 2017.)

J.R. Poppele, chief engineer of WOR, New York, was hired by Haverhill Gazette owner John T. “Jack” Russ to conduct the original survey of transmitter sites for Russ’s proposed local FM radio station, later named WHAV. Poppele was an early FM expert, working with inventor Edwin Howard Armstrong to place WX2OR on the air in New York during early 1940 and its successor W71NY the following year. That station would eventually become WOR-FM. Poppele’s engineering studies indicated the best spot to build a radio tower in Haverhill would be atop 276-foot high Silver Hill, putting the tower close to the center of the city. Unfortunately, Silver Hill was already occupied by a beloved, but crumbling landmark – Tilton Tower.

Efforts Begin to Chip Away at Haverhill’s 51-Year-Old Form of Government

If a recent statement by Haverhill’s mayor and the presence of a City Council agenda item this week are any indications, the city’s 51-year-old form of government could be upended in the future. The City of Lowell, settling a federal court case over the voting rights of minorities, agreed recently to end the practice of electing all of its city councilors and school committee members at large. Instead, under the terms of a consent decree, Lowell will elect all or a majority of elected seats by individual districts prior to the elections of 2021.” At his campaign kickoff, Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini said 20% of the city’s population is Latino and deserves representation. “Our City Council and our School Committee no longer represent all of our city and it’s time for ward councilors and I am proud to endorse that here tonight. It’s time to change our charter so that we have people elected in every ward and in every section of our city,” Fiorentini told supporters.

While Not Filmed Here, Haverhill Plays Prominently in AMC’s ‘NOS4A2’

With the recent excitement about the Hulu TV series “Castle Rock” filming in Haverhill, it is easy to forget Haverhill is already appearing on television in the AMC series “NOS4A2.”

In the original Joe Hill novel NOS4A2 (2013), Victoria McQueen discovers she has the gift of “finding” things presumed lost by crossing the condemned old covered bridge over the Merrimack River. As the novel starts, Vic McQueen leaves the family house while her parents are fighting about a lost bracelet. She crosses the derelict Shorter Way Bridge and suddenly finds herself in Hampton Beach. Somehow, she has been transported 15 miles beyond the bridge to the sub shop where the bracelet was lost. Vic will discover this gift may also be a curse.

Reflecting on My 40 Years in Radio and Local News

I am all the way back holding a spoon in this photograph taken for a readers’ cookbook shortly after I left WHAV and joined the Haverhill Gazette. Sports reporter Fred Burnham appears at left, front. Who else do you recognize? By Tim Coco
WHAV President and General Manager

Somehow, I never thought I’d be old enough to personally reflect on events that happened 40 years ago. In 1978, I joined the staff of WHAV the first time and, looking back, I marvel at just how much hasn’t changed as well as so much that has.

Lost & Found – The WHAV Call Letters

WHAV’s call letters were embedded in the floor when the Silver Hill transmitter site was dedicated in 1947. By David Goudsward
Special to WHAV News

You know WHAV as your local FM station at 97.9, but those letters on radio have meant many things to different people over nearly 100 years. In fact, the letters haven’t always been associated with Haverhill and haven’t always even been on land. Delaware’s First Radio Station

The call letters WHAV first graced the airwaves Aug. 14, 1922.

For Halloween: Haverhill’s Horror Movie Heritage

Mabel Albertson, born in Haverhill, appeared on “Bewitched” as Phyllis Stephens, Samantha’s headache prone mother-in-law. By Dave Goudsward
Special to WHAV News

If you look me up on IMDB, you’ll see I have a handful of television credits. Not listed (and rightfully so), is my sole movie appearance back in 1994 as an extra in the stadium for Florida spring training scenes of “Major League II.” Filmed in Harrisburg, Penn.’s minor league stadium. Instead of looking for me, I suggest looking for the one lonely palm tree the crew brought. Every time they moved the camera angle, they had to move the palm tree first – because it was supposed to be Florida!

Haverhill’s Cursed Son: Jonathan Buck

A mysterious leg is indelibly stained on the face of the monument to Colonel Jonathan Buck of Haverhill. (Photograph from historical postcard.)

By David Goudsward
Special to Wavelengths

The image is well known – the image of a leg indelibly stained on the face of the monument to Colonel Jonathan Buck—a Haverhillite rejected by his hometown, but who found success founding a town in Maine. As with every good ghost yarn, there are various incarnations of the story. Some say it was a visual reminder of the curse levied by a local witch burned alive by the pitiless judge and founder of Buckstown, Maine. Others state Colonel Buck had a mistress, who once her beauty faded, was tossed aside for a younger paramour.

How Haverhill Was Really Founded

Part one of a series, “A Town Named Haverhill”
Editor’s Note: Families can be complicated. The true story of the founding of Haverhill, Mass., is a testament to this fact with the founding minister’s father and brother-in-law being shown to be real estate schemers and his brother being a burglar expelled from Harvard. Much of the story of Haverhill’s founding has been steeped in fanciful folklore, but David Goudsward reveals the truth is much more colorful. The key date in the founding of Haverhill is 1639, a year before the first 12 settlers arrived at the banks of the Merrimack River near today’s Mill Street. The year 1639 is when John Ward arrived in Ipswich, joining his father, the Rev. Nathaniel Ward.