My subscription to Life expired, but I still have a subscription to Mad.

Monday, February 2, 2009

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.


  1. Hi Stan, I went up to West Peak in
    Meriden twice in the late 1990's
    because I had worked W1NRG during
    Field Day and the QSL card showed
    a stone tower one can climb on the
    east peak in the park. However, we
    arrived there at 4:45 PM and the Ranger there was about to close the
    gate. The second time we went back
    earlier in the day and the view was
    great. 73- Ray W2CH

  2. Hi Ray. I have not been up to the top since I was a teenager, but I have been meaning to revisit the site because a friend of mine claims that on a real clear day, you can see the Manhattan skyline!

  3. Wonderful memories... I lived right below the cliffs and still marvel at the views up and down..

    It is true you can see NYC on a clear day.

    My first HAM experience was on West Peak actually in the old abandoned Channel 20 building.

    That was 1971, I was with a friend Tom WA1LYT from Meriden -he set his humble 6m AM station up and we talked about 5 states, also 2m AM with his AMECO xmiter...

    What an introduction ... oh yeah - don't tell anyone we both climbed the old Channel 20 mast too..


    73 de John West N1IWT

  4. Thanks for the memories, John. I plan to make a trip up to the top with my camera on a clear day to take a lot of photos after they re-open the access road this spring.

  5. Stan
    The 1939 (possible 1936) tower is not the one you indicated. If you look to the left (north), the building with the large 3-leg red and white tower has a 500 gallon silver propane tank at the left end. Between this tank and the 3-pole H fixture powerline poles you'll see a 80 ft monopole.
    This is the tower. It belongs to WHCN. In fact WDRC-FM on 102.9 dates from 1958. If you follow the licence of Doolittle's pioneering FM station from 1939 it leads you to the present WHCN on 105.9.

    Rick Walsh

  6. Hello My FRIEND! Very Nice Photo of West Peak in Meriden! I used to work at WMMW 1470 AM Radio in Meriden. Its sister station was WBMI FM and their transmitter and antenna were located on West Peak! WBMI was sold, they changed the call letters, and moved their studio to Hartford. Connecticut Public Radio has a transmitter and antenna on West Peak. At one time UHF TV 53 was also located there and I believe that later became WATR TV from Waterbury! Thanks, Take Care, And 73s! From, TOM COSS WA1LYT In Meriden