A Technical History of WHAV


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Sign Off, Aug 2010

1950s and the advent of 45s

Pressure from television, restrictions on simulcasting and a declining local economy took tolls on the operation of WHAV AM and FM. In an effort to control costs, the Haverhill Gazette invested in two of the newly introduced Presto 10.5" reel-to-reel decks. As debts mounted, former News Director Edwin V. Johnson told me, most of the staff was released. That left Johnson and weatherman Earl "Bud" Smith recording and playing all taped programs 10 hours a day.

Chief Engineer Herbert W. Brown was provided this car for trips between the studios and transmitter building.

Chief Engineer Herbert W. Brown was provided this car for trips between the studios and transmitter building.


WHAV-FM was dark by 1953 and its transmitter was purchased by WCRB. The virtually insolvent WHAV-AM was sold in 1954 to Edward I. Cetlin and Henry R. and Morris Silver. The Silver brothers were owners of a successful Manchester bottling company and former owners of WFEA, Manchester, NH, and WKXL, Concord, NH.

Since the Rek-O-Kut turntables could not play the new 45RPM records, the new owners purchased new Gates CB-500 16" transcription turntables. These were equipped with wide Gray-brand tonearms. At the end of the decade, and free-for-the-asking, a 20kW WHAV-FM was revived at the 92.5MHz frequency. The transmitter type is unknown. It was probably about this time, the station added a Gates Studioette four-channel monaural, tube-type console back at the studios. It would remain in active service until the early 1980s.

1960s power increase

When the FCC allowed local Class IV stations to use 1,000W power days and continue 250W at night, WHAV purchased an RCA BTA-1R1. The new transmitter used 4-400A tubes for its power amplifier and modulator.

In the years that followed, and with the evolution in technology, several early RCA RT-7B rack-mount cart machines entered the studios. There was one RCA BA-7B record amplifier. One RCA 4-cart automatic machine also went into regular use. At some point a pair of Ampex 351s full-track transports replaced the aging Presto machines.

At the transmitter building, a CBS Audimax was put into service on the AM and a CBS Volumax on the FM. They remained in back-up service at least until the early 1980s.

1970s stereo and solid-state

Stereo did not come until the 1970s for WHAV-FM when it aired the "Music Just for the Two of Us" instrumental format from Peters Productions, eventually employing a Schaefer automation system. An updated Schaefer was eventually added and the two systems were nicknamed "Trixi" and "Norton" respectively after the "Honeymooners" characters. A keypad using only ones and zeros was used to program the later device.

Three reel-to-reel decks and two cart carousels were used. Originally, Revox B77 decks were used, but these proved troublesome as they slowed and often stopped while trying to rewind the 10.5" reels. I can't recall what replaced them, but ITC decks come to mind.

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