Baritone Vaughn Monroe at WHAV’s 1947 opening. (Photograph courtesy Leanne Wholley, great granddaughter of WHAV founder John T. Russ.)
Live and locally performed music and special tributes highlight Thursday night’s formal dedication of 97.9 WHAV and celebration of the 70th anniversary of the original WHAV in Haverhill.
Rick O’Shey, a broadcast veteran who first came to WHAV in 1984, serves as master of ceremonies for the “97.9 WHAV Inauguration Ceremony.” He introduces local and state officials, paying tribute to the new radio station, and musical selections from local singer/song-writer Letriah Masters and senior members of the Haverhill High School chorus.
Expected to deliver dedicatory greetings and citations are state Rep. Brian S. Dempsey, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee; Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini; and City Council President John A. Michitson. Other members of the Haverhill City Council and School Committee and administration are also expected. A citation from Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker will be read.
The new WHAV FM signed on late last September with a larger on-air footprint than the original WHAV AM, blanketing the city of Haverhill and reaching all area communities.
WHAV President and General Manager also delivers a tribute to the radio station’s founder John T. “Jack” Russ. Enamored by the work of FM inventor Major Edwin H. Armstrong, Russ first envisioned building an FM radio station for Haverhill as early as 1944. With FM development after World War II proceeding slower than planned, Russ was instrumental in launching WHAV AM March 16, 1947 from temporary studios on Merrimack Street in downtown Haverhill. Like the original, 97.9 WHAV’s signal emanates from atop Silver Hill.
Russ’ descendants have been invited to attend.
WHAV members and distinguished guests are invited to attend the inaugural ceremony, Thursday, March 16, 6 p.m., at Maria’s Galleria Banquet Room, 85 Essex St. The dedication will also be broadcast live at 97.9 FM. Although there is no cost for WHAV members, seating is limited and registration is required. Register at WHAV.net or call 978-374-2111, ext. 111.
At WHAV AM, O’Shey was heard from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., weekdays, and also hosted the Saturday morning “Swap Shop” program. During his time at WHAV and its then-sister station, WLYT, he also worked morning and afternoon drive and served as interim program director, PSA director, assistant sports director and writer and producer of commercial spots and other advertising campaigns. O’Shey began his radio career in 1979 at WOTW, FM-106, Nashua, N.H., before moving on to WKBR, AM 1250, in 1982. Later, he joined WOKQ/WPKQ, where he hosted the WOKQ Telephone Flea Market for nine years and was on-stage host for more than 20 concerts, including in front of 110,000 people at New Hampshire International Speedway. He is currently at Total Traffic Boston, reporting traffic, weather and sports for various New England and other regional radio stations
Marc Lemay, who first went to work for the station as news director in 1990, oversees studio operations during the ceremony. Christopher Porter, producer of the Open Mike Show, supervises technical operations of the remote broadcast from Maria’s.
Local Artist Letriah Masters to Sing the National Anthem
As is customary for a radio station sign-on, Masters launches the festivities with the singing of the National Anthem. Masters is a singer/song-writer, poet, author and musician with a love and appreciation for Jazz, classical and contemporary voice. She is a multifaceted teacher with a special focus on performance coaching and theatrical training of youth. Her skill sets include voice, piano, percussion and guitar instrumentation.
Her belief in the power of music and other art forms is seen in her work as the founder of the Merrimack Valley Music & Arts, a non-profit organization launched in 2014 with a mission to endorse creation, celebration and collaboration in the community. One of her more recent endeavors demonstrates that clearly with the launching of the citywide youth chorus called “Haverhill City Voice,” a group of unified youth to help bring Haverhill’s families together and build a stronger community. She also wants to fulfill her goal of bringing quality services at affordable rates to all with the opening of a non-profit performing arts center on Washington Street.
Among her achievements, she recently began her third year as the chair of the Haverhill Cultural Council. Some of her greatest achievements include mothering five teenagers on honor roll with musical talents of their own, and being a wife of 20 years. As she has taught her children the power of self-expression and to embrace their unique passions to gain direction in life, so is the message she chooses to pass on through her voice and the gift of song to those who have an ear to hear and that share Haverhill as their home.
Senior Members of Haverhill High School Chorus Perform Favorites
Haverhill Superintendent of School James F. Scully and Haverhill High School Choral Director Joseph F. Gori worked with WHAV to present the talents of Emily Forisso, Joseph Pazzanese and Chloe Reynolds, Haverhill High School seniors.
Forisso is also a member of the Chamber Chorus and the Drama Club. She is an accomplished student musician and actor who has played leading roles in numerous HHS productions including “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Pippin,” “Arsenic And Old Lace” and “The Sound Of Music.” Forisso’s other musical interests include playing piano. She is also a member of the HHS Student Council and Early College program. She also has the distinction of being the 2015 Haverhill Idol.
Pazzanese is also a member of the Chamber Chorus and the Drama Club. He is an accomplished student musician and actor who has played leading roles in numerous HHS productions including “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Brigadoon,” “Arsenic And Old Lace” and “The Sound Of Music” In addition to music, he has an interest in floral design.
Reynolds is also a member of the Chamber Chorus and the Drama Club. She is an accomplished student musician and actor who has played leading roles in numerous HHS productions including “A Christmas Carol,” “Arsenic And Old Lace” and “The Sound Of Music.” Among Reynold’s several interests are playing the guitar, drawing, and painting. She is a member of the HHS Early College Program as well as a student in the AP Art Studio. For her artwork, she was awarded a Gold Key in this year’s Boston Globe Art Show. Reynolds is also a seasonal performer at Canobie Lake where she performs during the summer as well as in “Scream Fest.”
Special thanks to Charter Broadcasters: Haverhill Bank, Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, Giovanni’s Roast Beef and Pizza, Covanta Haverhill, Vets4Kids, SSJM Attorneys, Jon Ryan’s Pubs, Anna Jaques Hospital, Joseph C. Edwards Law Office, Maria’s Family Restaurant, Sea Grass Therapies and Your Personal Fitness Source.