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  Franklin M. Doolittle

Unique among radio stations, WDRC has had only four owners during its entire history.

Okay--FCC files list more than two corporate entities, but the fact remains that WDRC was founded in 1922 by Franklin Malcolm Doolittle who headed it until August 4, 1959 when the station was sold to Buckley-Jaeger Broadcasting Corporation of Connecticut. John Jaeger later sold his shares to Richard D. Buckley whose son, Richard D. Buckley, Jr., headed the family corporation until his death on July 31, 2011. On July 7, 2014 WDRC FM/AM (and WWCO, WSNG and WMMW) were bought by Connoisseur Media. On January 15, 2018 Connoisseur sold WDRC AM/FM in Hartford, WSNG Torrington, and WMMW Meriden to Red Wolf Broadcasting.

Doolittle's career and influence were remarkable - a true broadcast pioneer, especially in the development of Frequency Modulation (FM). The webmaster gratefully acknowledges the contributions from Mr. Doolittle's son, John.



June 16, 1893 - Franklin Malcolm Doolittle was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of Frank M. Doolittle & Nellie C. Beecher.

"Boy Electrician Who Surprises Professors"

1905 - Lee DeForest, "the father of modern radio," built New Haven's first wireless transmitter at City Point. Eleven-year-old Franklin M. Doolittle used to go there to test his homemade receiver and spark-coil transmitter.

A 1906 newspaper article about the budding scientist described Doolittle as "a rosy cheeked schoolboy" while reporting that "other schoolboys cannot quite enter into sympathy with him, because they do not understand what he does and thinks out." Click for the full text of the article here.

1909-1915 - During school vacations, Doolittle worked as a shipboard radio operator for the United Wireless Telegraph Company and American Marconi Company.click for enlargement | click for service record

Franklin Doolittle - ship operator
March 1913 ad in Electrician & Mechanic magazine

1912 - Doolittle joined the Institute of Radio Engineers.

1913 - The March issue of Electrician & Mechanic magazine contained an advertisement (left) for Doolittle's first commercial enterprise. He and an unknown partner named Benedict sold electronic measuring services from the Doolittle family home on Bradley Street in New Haven.

1915 - Doolittle graduated from Yale University with a degree in electrical engineering and became associated with Bell Telephone System.

click for Doolittle's legend from "History of the Class of 1915, Sheffield Scientific School"

Franklin M. Doolittle


F.M. Doolittle in Navy 1917 - When World War I erupted, Doolittle attended the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, MD, and received a temporary commission to serve on the battleship New Mexico. He served as communications officer of the Fourth Squadron, Battleship Force 11 and at the District Communications Office in New York City.

1919 - He started a small radio manufacturing business at 917 Chapel Street in New Haven called Franklin M. Doolittle Company, later incorporated as Doolittle Radio Corporation. He built and sold radio receivers for $250-$300 (see photo below).

Doolittle six-tube radio

click for more on the Doolittle Tuner | Duplex Gap | Audimax | Amplifone | Decremeter | Decremeter 2

1919-25 - He taught at Yale's Sheffield Scientific School, assisting in undergraduate instruction and postgraduate instruction of officers assigned to the Signal Corps.

Amplifone link

February 13, 1920 - The Department of Commerce Bureau of Navigation issued Doolittle a license for General Amateur radio station 1GAI. He was authorized to broadcast from 167 Willard Street in New Haven with 1kw of power on 200 meters.

June 14, 1921 - Doolittle sold his federal patent application for "Sound Recording and Sound Reproducing and Locating Apparatus" to Radio Corporation of America (Serial #477,360).

click on image for enlargement

November 12, 1921 - Doolittle broadcast the first football game -Yale vs. Princeton - over his amateur radio station, 1GAI. New Haven Register sports editor Dan Mulvey attended the game and described the play over a telephone to Doolittle who was at home with his transmitter. Doolittle repeated the information into his homemade microphone. Doolittle prepares 1921 Yale/Princeton football broadcast

Click for newspaper announcement | Click for fan mail

November 27, 1922 - Doolittle Radio Corporation applied for a federal license for a "limited commercial land radio station" based at 817 Chapel Street in New Haven. Click here to see first license.

December 10, 1922 - Above a shop at 115 Crown Street in New Haven, Connecticut's first commercial radio station was born: 10-watt WPAJ (360 meters/833 kilocycles). In cramped quarters, Doolittle worked with engineer Italo A. Martino and partner, Walter B. Haase. Doolittle was President & Treasurer.

Crown Street, New Haven CT
WPAJ's New Haven transmitter building

March 13, 1923 - Since U.S. Commerce Department radio licenses were only good for three months, WPAJ filed for renewal. It specified its Beacon Hill antenna system was "T-type" consisting of two 110-foot wooden masts with a 105-foot horizontal part and 35-foot vertical part described as "4 wire flat top 13' spreaders." For an electrical ground, this mechanism was clamped to a steam pipe.

Click on photo for enlargement

F.M. Doolittle and Italo Martino in WPAJ Storefront circa 1923

1923 - The station shared a storefront on Chapel Street where Doolittle sold his line of equipment, including radio receivers. Doolittle sets sold for $250 to $300.

Click on photos for enlargements

WDRC Storefront circa 1923
1924 Radiotelephony patent

August 16, 1924 - The Federal Radio Commission opened a three-month window for a nonrenewable authorization, permitting Doolittle to experiment with two-channel broadcasting. Two transmitters were used; the regular WPAJ at 268 meters (1120kc), and 227 meters (1320kc).

November 4, 1924 - Doolittle obtained U.S. Patent #1,513,973 for a "useful Improvement in Radiotelephony."

"This invention relates to a method of transmitting and receiving radio telephonic impulses in such a manner as to evoke in the mind of the listener substantially the same consciousness of location of the source of the sound or sounds as he would have obtained had he been personally present at the transmitting station. An important application of my invention is to the field of radio telephone broadcasting, the end in view being to place the listener to a broadcasting program in the same acoustical relation with the performance as though he were present."

click on image for enlarged diagram

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