Man From Mars Productions
A key figure
in the early success of WPAJ and, later, WDRC was
Walter B. Haase.
Born May 11,
1907, he was educated in New Haven public schools and operated amateur
station 1APJ during his high school years.
In 1924 Franklin
M. Doolittle hired Haase as a radio serviceman to sell and install
the line of radio equipment he manufactured. Walter's widow, Marguerite,
provided some additional background on her husband's early involvement
click for enlargement
Walter B. Haase plays the piano in WPAJ's
New Haven studio at the Taft Hotel.
Walter graduated his mother and father moved to Florida and left
him on his own. The first thing was to find a job and of course,
where did he go, but to a radio store. Mr. Doolittle had a radio
store at that time on Crown St. in New Haven where he and Marty
(Italo A. Martino) repaired and sold radios and were involved
with a transmitter. They hired him right after high school and
that was all the formal education he had. As you know about that
time the broadcasting business was advancing in leaps and bounds.
This, of course was before my involvement with the station. This
information I was told through the years."
Over time Walter
took on additional duties in the operation of Doolittle's New Haven
1925 WPAJ changed its name to WDRC. Walt's interests
gradually shifted away from selling and installing parts to writing
copy, announcing news, and playing piano at the microphone. Later
he became program manager. He was the idea man charged with dreaming
up new promotional campaigns and program concepts.
During one broadcast
in the late 1920s, Walt was announcing while also riding gain on
the transmitter, which was in the same room as the studio. As the
soprano performer hit - and held - an especially high note, a sharp
crackling noise was heard inside the transmitter, followed by a
great cloud of smoke. The singer had overloaded a condenser. There
was nothing to do but turn off all the equipment and lights and
send everybody home. Station engineer Italo
Martino would have to make repairs the next morning.
In a 1948 interview
with Broadcasting magazine, Haase said he was probably the
first to broadcast a radio performance by Rudy Vallee. That happened
at New Haven's Yale Bowl when Walt was announcing on WPAJ
and Vallee was the leader of the Yale Collegians. Haase also
emceed several remote broadcasts featuring Rudy Vallee playing saxophone
for a local orchestra, long before Vallee hit it big on network
on photo for enlargement
Walt was among staff members who folded up the WDRC tent
and relocated to Hartford in December 1930. For a decade Uncle
Walt was the station's primary announcer. Among other duties,
he arose before dawn every morning to sign the station on the air
and host the popular Shopper's Special.
August 6, 1938, Haase served as site engineer for a live broadcast
from the dedication of the Arrigoni
Bridge spanning the Connecticut River between Portland and Middletown
(see photo below).
1926, Walter bought his first stock in the Doolittle Radio Corporation.
He eventually owned 20% of the company and was secretary of the
corporation when the name was changed to Connecticut Broadcasting
Company in 1947.
the intervening years, Haase worked in all departments of the station
including: building and installing equipment, operating, announcing,
writing, program planning, and performing. He held the titles of
Studio Manager, Program Manager and Station Manager as his career
at WPAJ and WDRC evolved.
pay stub from Feb. 20, 1943
the late 1940s the company was anxious to expand into the brave
new world of television. By the time WDRC
submitted an application for a television license, Italo
A. Martino was deceased. In 1953 three applicants were slugging
it out before the FCC so Doolittle and Haase agreed to throw in
with WTIC Radio to form one television company. Haase became the
point man, closely observing New York television transmissions from
his summer home in Branford, CT.
the effort failed and WDRC was sold to Buckley-Jaegar Broadcasting
Corporation of Connecticut in 1959. His 35-year career came to an
end on August third.
click on photo for enlargement
had a second career as director of the Career Training Institute
in Wethersfield. He enjoyed a summer home in Branford and indulged
his hobbies of woodworking, photography and home improvements.
Haase was 68 years old when he passed away on July 19, 1975.
here to read about his wife, former WDRC bookkeeper Marguerite
"Peggy" (Reichel) Haase.
August 13, 1951, p.54