From left to right, Engineers Dan Guy and David J. Doherty confer with tower contractor Steve Barbrick at WHAV’s Silver Hill, Haverhill, transmitter site.
The granting of the license officially brings radio back to Haverhill after a stint as an internet radio-only station
It’s official, Haverhill, Mass.’ 97.9 WHAV(LP) now has its “License to Cover” from the FCC. The license given to WHAV’s nonprofit parent company, Public Media of New England, is the last official step in bringing radio back to the city of 62,000 residents.
“Hearty thanks go out to all of the donors and sponsors that made this great day possible,” said WHAV President and General Manager Tim Coco. “As a nonprofit organization, WHAV relied on the public’s generosity to bring this project to a successful conclusion.”
WHAV first filed an application for an FM license when the FCC opened the LPFM filing window. In September, 2014, WHAV was selected to receive a license and on Jan. 9, 2015, they received an initial construction permit. The original transmitter site built in 1947 for Haverhill’s first AM radio station is even used.
The WHAV call letters had first been used in Haverhill broadcasting in 1947, but had to be won back from the U.S. Coast Guard after being placed on an oil industry barge. Interestingly, a similar issue happened before in 1947 when the Haverhill Gazette applied for an FCC license that would force them to use WHGF because the local police station was using WHAV for its shortwave radio station. However, Haverhill’s police chief agreed to swap.
Plans to go FM have been in the works since WHAV began providing local programming on the internet at WHAV.net in 2004. Skywaves Consulting did the station’s engineering and the Washington-based law firm Drinker Biddle & Reath represented WHAV before the FCC.
More on WHAV’s long history can be read here.