West Peak, Meriden, CT

West Peak, Meriden, CT

After writing my last Surfin’ column about using Microsoft’s Live Search Maps to get bird’s eye views of antenna farms, I began my exploration of radio sites.

West Peak in Meriden, CT, is about 8 miles away (across the Quinnipiac River valley) from my home. It is a historic radio site and one of the oldest commercial radio antenna farms in the area.

The photo above is the west side of West Peak, which is 1,024 feet ASL. Its profile is imposing because its vertical cliffs stand tall above the valley 700 feet below.

According to Wikipedia, “Edwin Howard Armstrong, who invented FM radio and who was a network radio pioneer, used West Peak for the location of one of the first FM radio broadcasts in 1939. His original 70′ tall radio mast is still there.”

I may be mistaken, but I believe that Armstrong’s tower is located in the photo above is located directly in front of the building with the flat white roof. (Click on the photo to magnify it.)

WDRC went on the air in 1939 as the first commercial FM broadcast station in the US. Franklin Doolittle, who founded the station, renamed it WDRC for Doolittle Radio Corporation.

Doolittle’s daughter wrote me after I wrote a Surfin’ column that mentioned the history of WDRC.

“Bless your heart for your loyalty to WDRC-FM. My name is Lydia Johnson and I am Franklin M. Doolittle’s daughter. I read your article on the history of FM radio and it was most interesting.

“I lived through that era of my father’s innovative life and used to drive up the old dirt road up the side of Meriden Mountain (CT) with him as the station came to life under his direction. FM was a labor of love for him. WDRC-OBG is a remarkable Web site that details the history of my Dad’s stations. I am so glad you found it.

“My father was a wonderful, humble man, who was truly a pioneer in the development of radio. He was never one to blow his own horn, a gentle, quiet man who had the first patent on binaural sound, and helped to start FM radio on the long and sometimes rocky road to popularity,”

Thank you so much for holding those memories of the past, and bringing back some memories for me.”

Check out the WDRCOBG Web site for more about Doolittle and his radio station that still pumps out oldies, but goodies 24/7.

Currently, FM broadcast stations WHCN, WKSS, WPKT, WWYZ, and WZMX, also transmit from West Peak, as do NOAA with a weather broadcast station (WXJ42) on 162.4 MHz, and Amateur Radio station W1ECH with repeaters operating on 2 meters and 440 MHz.

2 Responses to “West Peak, Meriden, CT”

  1. Paul Johnson says:

    Hi and thanks for this story. I’m Franklin Doolittle’s grandson (and Lydia’s son), and wanted to let you and your readers know of a couple of online photo albums detailing the Meriden West Peak transmitter site. They were taken by my brother and I in June of 2006, while we were on a private tour of the facility. Happy to report that the 1939 FM radio mast is still standing proudly! The photos are at http://albums.phanfare.com/4842626/3455315 and http://www.pbase.com/pnjohnson/meridenmtn

  2. Andrew says:

    Very cool. I actually grew up in one of the neighborhoods directly below the cliffs, and spent so much time reading about and exploring West Peak. There is also an old partially dismantled tower laying on its side on the property, I wonder what the story is on that. It seems as if the original tower is indeed standing, but this dismantled one is of similar design.

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