Part 3: WHAV’s Historic and Rocky Road to FM

With the Federal Communications Commission’s tentative selection of WHAV to receive a new FM license, the Haverhill Heritage Series reviews the difficult path FM has had to circumnavigate in Haverhill.  Third in a Series
By Tim Coco
President & General Manager

The first incarnation of WHAV-FM was dead, along with its most zealous advocate, John T. “Jack” Russ. WHAV-FM lasted just under four years—1948 to 1952, but the fight for FM would also bring other casualties. Major Edwin Howard Armstrong, the inventor of FM, became despondent over his legal battles to force RCA to pay FM royalties. “On the night of January 31, 1954, Armstrong put on his overcoat, scarf, gloves, and hat, opened his window, and jumped out, falling ten stories to his death,” wrote Yannis Tsividis in Columbia University’s “Columbia Magazine.” Along with Armstrong went the Continental (FM) Network—of which WHAV was an affiliate.

Part 2: WHAV’s Historic and Rocky Road to FM

The Haverhill Heritage Series reviews the difficult path FM has had to circumnavigate in Haverhill.  WHAV Prepares Residents for FM
Second in a Series

 By Tim Coco
President & General Manager

The Haverhill public knew very little about frequency modulation (FM) in 1947. Its high fidelity sound and static free presentation were advantages Haverhill Gazette Publisher John T. “Jack” Russ sought to exhort. Only a handful of FM radio stations were licensed before the outbreak of World War II and production of consumer receiving sets was banned by wartime controls. Corporate fighting and suppression by regulators further delayed FM’s development.

King Davis Reflects on His Locally Famous Radio Jingle

Kingsbury “King” Davis had a surprise for WHAV listeners when he appeared on the Open Mike Show last season. One of the most memorable and popular of WHAV’s commercials of years gone by was a singing jingle for the King Davis Agency. Davis has generously provided original recordings of those commercials and they were heard again for the first time in 30 years over WHAV. “For 30-odd years, I drove a station wagon with my name on the side of it…I would drive that car around the community and, where there might be a cluster of children, they would start singing the jingle when they saw the car. Of course, it woke up most of the community at 7 o’clock every morning with the news.

WHAV’s Historic and Rocky Road to FM

First in a Series

By Tim Coco
President & General Manager

WHAV AM 1490 had been on the air a little more than a year in 1948. Although it was an achievement for Haverhill Gazette Publisher John T. “Jack” Russ, it was only a consolation prize. Russ never intended to build a “standard” broadcast AM radio station. He was enamored by the hope and promise of inventor Major Edwin Howard Armstrong’s high-fidelity, static free frequency modulation (FM). More than that, perhaps, Russ could one-up the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, which managed to beat the Haverhill Gazette to the air in 1937 with its own WLAW 680 AM.

Stained Glass Artist Ruocco Gets Even

By Tim Coco
President & General Manager

Francesco “Frank” Ruocco lost his famed stained glass studio to the construction of Ginty Boulevard during the 1960s Pentucket Urban Renewal Project. While the Haverhill Heritage Series often focuses on businesses and homes lost to the city’s ill-fated urban renewal projects of the 1960s and 1970s, Ruocco’s battles with his former mentor, and later competitor, is far more interesting. Francesco Ruocco Studio operated for 30 years at 123 Kent Street, about where a newer Green Street extension rubs up against Ginty Boulevard today, and 23 Water St., now the site of an apartment complex. In the studio, Ruocco designed ornate stained glass windows, which still adorn churches across the nation. Works were glazed by his son Richard Ruocco and largely painted by his son-in-law William Bryant.

Haverhill’s Transformation by I-495 with Conflicts, Politics for Good Measure

Haverhill faced substantial man-made demolition during the 1960s as urban renewal swept through its downtown, but more of its citizens were disrupted by construction of Interstate 495. In both cases, entire streets disappeared, others were rerouted and citizens were widely scattered. Urban renewal is considered a total failure while few can imagine life without I-495. Oddly, however, there is a connection between the two projects as will be seen below. A recent WHAV Open Mike Show explored the River Street to Gile Street portion—a segment of 23,550 feet.

Haverhill’s Dr. Lahey Took FDR Secret to the Grave; Likely Influenced VP Pick

By Tim Coco
WHAV President & General Manager (volunteer)

Haverhill native Frank Howard Lahey (1880-1953) took a dark secret to his grave. He knew in 1944 that President Franklin D. Roosevelt would not survive a fourth term and feared being criticized for not making his findings public. The Open Mike Show took time March 4—the 80th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first inauguration—to dig into Lahey’s secret. Roosevelt indeed died three months into his fourth term. The renowned suregon was conflicted between his confidential duty to a patient and his obligation as a citizen.

News article

Haverhill’s Man Who Weighed Souls

By David Goudsward
Special to Wavelengths

Duncan MacDougall (1866-1920) was a Glaswegian born, Boston trained physician who immigrated to Haverhill in 1886. Upon receiving his medical degree from Boston University School of Medicine in 1893, he returned to his adopted hometown of Haverhill, started his medical practice and married Mary Storer, a Maine native. In 1895, their only son, John Storer was born, followed by the finalization of Dr. MacDougall’s naturalization in 1896. His home and medical practice were located on Main Street at the corner of Fountain Street, now the site of the Social Security building. The late Greg Laing, archivist at the Haverhill Public Library, visited the family as a youth and believed the maple tree on the front lawn is from the original MacDougall home.