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WHAV Applies for LPFM

New Hampshire station distributed over AM, public access television, Internet

Public Media of New England Inc., owner of Internet and cable radio station WHAV, applied to the FCC for a new LPFM station at 98.1 MHz.

WHAV officials believe their application is probably one of thousands submitted during the filing window, the first for LPFM in 13 years. David Doherty of Skywaves Consulting Inc., Millbury, Mass., provided engineering services, while Howard Liberman and Lee Petro of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, Washington, provided legal representation.

“The restoration of hyperlocal radio service to Greater Haverhill is now another step closer to reality,” said Tim Coco, WHAV’s volunteer president and general manager. “For nearly 10 years, WHAV has provided programming 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week over the Internet and public access television stations throughout the Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire. FM service will help WHAV reach many more residents, especially during emergency times.”

WHAV’s LPFM application comes nearly 70 years after pioneer plans for a FM station in the city were first proposed. In 1944, famed WOR broadcast engineer Jacob “J.R.” Poppele conducted a survey of possible FM radio sites in Haverhill.

A year later Frank McIntosh, who would develop the iconic McIntosh audio amplifier, provided engineering service for the proposed Haverhill station at 46.5 MHz. “FM, relatively new in the realm of radio, was developed by Maj. E. H. Armstrong and is generally accepted by radio engineers, by the radio industry, and by persons who have heard FM broadcasts as superior to the familiar amplitude modulation type (AM),” The Haverhill Gazette newspaper reported at the time.

Haverhill’s implementation of FM, however, was stalled when the FCC moved the FM band to where it is today, forcing an AM station to be built instead in 1947. After establishment of WHAV(FM) on the new band in 1948, a lack of radio receivers forced the closure of the station by 1953. WHAV was revived in 1959, but ultimately the call letters were dropped and the city of license changed to Andover.

Besides Coco, members of the board of nonprofit Public Media of New England Inc. are Haverhill attorney William Cox Jr. and former banker and real estate broker Anita Purcell.

The WHAV call letters have been associated with local broadcasting since 1947. Today, WHAV is operated by Public Media of New England Inc., a not-for-profit corporation. Since 2004, the calls have served the Merrimack Valley’s pioneer Internet radio station at 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 AM 1640 in northern Haverhill and Plaistow, N.H.