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Walter Bernard Haase
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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 in radio:

"After 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 station, WPAJ.

Walter B. Haase in 1927
click on photo for enlargementWDRC's Walter B. Haase at the microphone
click on photo for enlargement

 
  Walter Haase plays the piano at WPAJ's New Haven studio in the mid 1920s. Walter B. Haase plays the piano in WPAJ's
New Haven studio at the Taft Hotel.

In February 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 radio.

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.

 
 

On 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 at right).

In 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.

During 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.

Starting in 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.

Unfortunately 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.

Walter had a second career as director of the Career Training Institute in Wethersfield. He enjoyed a summer home in Brandford and indulged his hobbies of woodworking, photography and home improvements.

Walter B. Haase at 1938 dedication of Arrigoni Bridge
click on photo for enlargement

Walter Haase WDRC pay stub dated February 20, 1943
Walt Haase pay stub from Feb. 20, 1943

 
  WDRC's Walter B. Haase spinning a record
click on photo for enlargement

WDRC station manager Walter B. Haase

Walter Bernard Haase was 68 years old when he passed away on July 19, 1975.

Click here to read about his wife, former WDRC bookkeeper Marguerite "Peggy" (Reichel) Haase.

Broadcasting-Telecasting magazine, August 13, 1951, p.54
Broadcasting/Telecasting magazine
August 13, 1951, p.54

 
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