• Andover: Channel 8
• Methuen, Channels 8 + 22 (Comcast) &
32 (Verizon Fios)
Plaistow, Channel 17
Sandown, Channel 17
thanks to the boards, management, staffs and members of the public
access television stations above for bringing WHAV to those without
Internet access! If you would like to hear WHAV on your cable
television system, call your cable company or public access station.
For more information, call (978) 374-2111.
1640 on your AM radio in select areas.
Go to www.WHAV.mobi
with PocketTunes® on your cell phone. For more
information Click Here.
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or call (978) 374-2111.
meterologists keep you informed with Merrimack Valley weather
conditions every half hour, 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week.
anchors local news, plus Westwood One delivers world and national news.
In addition, Breaking news airs when it happens on WHAV. Remember only
local radio can bring you local news, but only
Mon.-Fri., hourly from 7 a.m.- 6 p.m. and 11
Local bus riders heard WHAV-FM
on area transit routes during
the late 1940s and early 1950s.
U.S. Supreme Court
Intervention Fails to Save Original WHAV-FM in 1952
Saga 60 Years Ago
Pit Bus Riders Against Radio Ads
The original FM incarnation of WHAV was a
relatively short-lived affair of about only four years. It was
conceived under difficult circumstances, lived in painful agony and
died in part because of complaints from, of all people, bus commuters.
WHAV FM was supposed to be Haverhill’s first radio station and would
have been one of the first FM stations in the northeast. The Haverhill Gazette
began planning an FM station as early as 1944, but it would not go on
the air for another four years. First, the Gazette had to wait
end of World War II and then delivery of consumer receivers after the
Communications Commission (FCC) abruptly moved the FM band from a lower
set of frequencies to where it is today.
“…establishment of an AM station for local coverage does not mean the
company has abandoned plans for its FM station. It was decided to apply
for an AM station when it became apparent facilities were not going to
be developed as fast as first believed possible for FM stations,” Gazette Publisher
John T. “Jack” Russ announced in 1946. WHAV’s AM signal officially
signed on March 16, 1947.
launch of WHAV-FM a little more
than a year later was not the end of the battle. It was actually only
the beginning. Placing a 20,000 watt (see Western Electric transmitter
at right) FM station on the air was an expensive
undertaking, requiring generous advertising revenues to maintain. The Gazette could
not attract the major networks — NBC, CBS or ABC — to help foot the
bill. Instead it turned to the Continental Network, a new chain of FM
stations supported by Edwin Howard Armstrong, the inventor of FM. Alas,
the network never attracted interest outside of the northeast and
folded when Armstrong committed suicide.
Next, WHAV-FM tried the new Liberty Broadcasting System, whose
programming largely centered on recreating baseball games. It folded in
Reaching Out to
One last hope for WHAV-FM came from a new entrant, Transit Radio
Inc. The company was formed originally to provide “music as you ride”
and commercials from WWDC-FM to Washington, D.C. bus lines operated by
Capital Transit Co. FM radio receivers were placed in buses and
streetcars, and riders were forced to hear music, time signals and
commercials. Eventually, FM radio stations and commuter lines across
the country took part. Locally, commercials aired over WHAV-FM and were
heard over loudspeakers on area bus lines. Transit Radio made money by
selling equipment to commuter lines and advertising to sponsors.
Profits were shared by all parties. In fact, the Feb. 26, 1949 issue of
reported the rapid growth of Transit Radio with major advertising
commitments from Household Finance Corporation and General Mills.
WHAV-FM finally was making money.
Some bus riders, however, were indignant. Even the “father of radio,”
Lee deForest, slammed the activity in a 1952 Popular Mechanics
“Almost incredible is the loathsome fact that already in 21 cities bus
riders must listen to never-ending, blatant advertising and unwelcome
jitterbug and bop music, ‘viciously repugnant to the spiritual and
intellectual assumptions of American life,’ as Prof. Charles Black of
Columbia University wrote. This outrage is unquestionably the all-time
low to which radio broadcasting can sink.”
Commuter Franklin S. Pollak of Washington, D. C. complained that he was
held captive to hearing commercials and the service made it
difficult to read or hold a conversation while riding. He and others
unsuccessfully filed suit in U.S. District Court against the Public
Utilities Commission of the District of Columbia which had allowed the
installation of FM equipment on more than 200 Washington, D.C. buses.
On appeal, however, the United States Court of Appeals, District of
Columbia Circuit, sided with passengers June 1, 1951.
“Some discomforts may perhaps be inevitable incidents of mass
transportation, but forced listening is neither incidental nor
inevitable. It deprives the appellants and other passengers who object
to the broadcasts of their liberty for the private use of Transit,
Radio, and passengers who like the broadcasts. This loss of freedom of
attention is the more serious because many people have little time to
read, consider, or discuss what they like, or to relax. The record
makes it plain that the loss is a serious injury to many passengers.
They suffer not only the discomfort of hearing what they dislike but a
sense of outrage at being compelled to hear whatever Transit and Radio
An appeal to the highest court in the land could offer one last chance
for WHAV-FM, but would the body even agree to hear such a case?
Surprisingly, the U.S. Supreme Court did during the spring of 1952
because of the “novelty and practical importance to the public of the
Writing for the majority, Associate Justice Harold H. Burton disagreed
lower court. “The liberty of each individual in a public vehicle or
public place is subject to reasonable limitations in relation to the
rights of others. This Court expresses no opinion as to the
desirability of radio programs in public vehicles…the situation is not
unlike that which arises when a utility makes a change in its running
schedules or in the locations of its stops in the interests of the
majority of the passengers but against the vigorous protests of the few
who are inconvenienced by the change.”
Court of Public
Opinion Proves More Powerful
victory in the Supreme Court, advertisers began to distance themselves
from captive audiences. In its June 1, 1953 issue, Time magazine
“At one time, it seemed to Transit Radio Inc. like a fine idea. With
busloads of hapless passengers as audiences, music — and commercials —
could be broadcast in urban buses all over the U.S. The plan was fought
by groups of indignant passengers, by newspaper editorials and
magazines (notably The
New Yorker), all charging that bus broadcasts were an
invasion of the bus rider’s privacy. Last year the company won a
favorable Supreme Court decision and thought its troubles were over.
But the bus-riding public and the nation’s advertisers combined to
overrule the Supreme Court.”
WHAV-FM was finished. The Haverhill
Gazette shuttered the outlet and sold its transmitter to
WCRB, Boston. Years later, WHAV’s second owners would create another
WHAV-FM (now WXRV), but it would never rely on bus loudspeakers for an
Perhaps Associate Justice William O. Douglas’s dissenting opinion on
the matter summed up the concensus. “The right to be let alone is
indeed the beginning of all freedom.”
Seton Discusses ‘Truth Be Told’ on WHAV’s Open Mike Show May 17
Seton is a
Former Producer, Barbara Walters’ Interviews
Tony Seton, former ABC-TV
journalist and producer of Barbara Walters’ interviews, will discuss
his new novel, “Truth Be Told,” during WHAV’s Open Mike Show at 6:30
p.m., Monday, May 17.
Seton based the book on the true story of a
woman’s fight against sexual harassment and discrimination at a top-50
U.S. law school. Julia Borden, the protagonist in the story, is based
on real-life Kyndra Miller Rotunda, according to Seton. Rotunda filed a
sexual harassment lawsuit last July against George Mason Law School,
Arlington, Va. She served the school as director of a legal assistance
clinic for military service members.
Seton appeared last fall on a special
broadcast of the Open Mike Show with Jack Bevelaqua before a live
audience gathered at Maria’s Restaurant. There, he discussed “From
Cronkite to Colbert: Journalism in Transition” during a benefit
supporting the establishment of the Edwin V. Johnson Newsroom. His
“SetonnoteS” commentary is also heard daily at 6 and 11 p.m. over WHAV.
Seton was inspired to write “Truth Be Told”
upon learning of Rotunda’s story from her husband, whom he first met
while working for ABC and covering the Watergate scandal. Ronald
Rotunda served as deputy majority counsel for the Senate Watergate
Incidentally, Kyndra Rotunda previously
served as lawyer in the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Office and a
prosecutor for the Guantanamo Bay Office of Military Commissions. She
detailed the time she spent in Guantánamo in her own book, “Honor
Bound: Inside the Guantanamo Trials.”
The WHAV call letters have been associated
with local broadcasting since 1947. For more than six years, the WHAV
call has been heard on the Internet at WHAV.net and a number of public
access cable television stations in Andover, Haverhill and Methuen, and
Plaistow and Sandown, N.H. The station is also heard over low-power AM
To listen, or for more information, visit www.whav.net.