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Edwin B. Dooley Collection


Edwin B. Dooley Collection
Dooley, Edwin B.
Collection number:
5328 audio materials
Bulk dates:
Inclusive dates:
Collection Area:
Library of American Broadcasting
Library of American Broadcasting, 3210 Hornbake Library, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-9160, Fax: 301-314-2634, Email:

Edwin B. Dooley (1930-1998) was born in Kentucky, and grew up listening to 1930s and 1940s radio programs on Cincinnati's WLW clear channel station. He went on to become an engineer at both WLW radio and WLWT television, and remained active in radio, music and theatre after his retirement. A staunch advocate of radio history, Dooley worked to preserve its legacy by salvaging materials discarded by station management, resulting in a vast collection of over 5,000 discs spanning several decades of radio broadcasting.

Important Information for Users of the Collection


There are no restricted files in this collection.

Preferred citation:

Edwin B. Dooley Collection, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Publication rights:

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Fees page for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.


This collection has been minimally processed.

Historical Note

Edwin B. Dooley (1930-1998), a veteran Cincinnati broadcast engineer, was considered an authority on radio history. He studied electrical engineering, earning a degree in Communications from the University of Cincinnati, and spent the bulk of his active career as an engineer at WLW radio and WLWT television beginning in the 1950s. He joined the Advanced Color Television Design Group at AVCO Manufacturing Corporation, helping convert the WLW television stations to color format, and served as chief engineer at WLWT-TV from 1961 until he retired in 1987. He then did consulting work for Broadcast Investment Analysts. Dooley was a Registered Professional Engineer in the State of Ohio and held an FCC Radio Telephone General Class Commercial License. He was also a member of the Engineering Society of Cincinnati and the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, as well as a director of the Gray History of Wireless Museum. Mr. Dooley was a frequent speaker on radio history throughout his life, and gave presentations about the history of early radio broadcasting and WLW to the National Radio Club in 1962, and to the Cincinnati Section of the Institute of Electrical Engineers, Inc. in 1995. He helped develop WMKV, the only FM station in the country licensed to a retirement community, and helped compile a massive big band era music library for the station. He was active in the American Theater Organ Society, and based on his own record collection, he created a radio show about theater pipe organ performances, which WMKV continued to air after his death.

As a collector and advocate of broadcast history, Ed Dooley is particularly important to WLW's legacy because the station did not maintain a collection of its own recordings. Dooley saved thousands of airchecks, transcription discs, field recordings and radio equipment throughout his career at WLW, often climbing into the station's dumpster to rescue them.

WLW was created by Powel Crosley, Jr. in 1922. Crosley, who entered the field of broadcasting after building a radio for his son, soon became a forerunner in the business of radio and equipment production. His dedication to manufacturing affordable radios with assembly-line production earned him the nickname "The Henry Ford of Radio." Over the next two decades, Crosley continually expanded WLW's programming and transmitter size, and by 1934 "The Nation's Station" was broadcasting at 500,000 watts, reaching as far as Australia on clear nights.

WLW became the target of numerous complaints from other radio stations. The first such complaint came from CFRB in Toronto, which eventually led to an FCC intervention requiring WLW to reduce the station's nightly power to 50,000 watts. Crosley engineers began designing and installing a suppressor antenna that eliminated the interference without reducing WLW's signal strength, and the FCC approved the station's return to normal operation in 1935.

In 1936, however, when other radio stations began to apply to the FCC for super-power operation, the U.S. Senate intervened with a resolution stating that any radio station broadcasting at more than 50,000 watts was against public interest. In 1938, WOR in New Jersey sued WLW for allegedly interfering with their signal. By 1939, WLW was only allowed to broadcast experimentally at 500,000 watts before dawn, and by 1943, the station was forced to reduce its power to 50,000 watts twenty four hours a day.

Although WLW continued to broadcast superior programs for the next several decades, Crosley lost interest in broadcasting after losing his battle with the FCC. He turned his attention to manufacturing cars and appliances, and his ownership of the Cincinnati Reds. Crosley eventually sold his broadcast stations to the Aviation Corporation (AVCO) in 1945.


  • "The WLW 500 KW Transmitter," by Clyde Haehnle and Ed Dooley
  • Stinger, Charles J. "The Eminent Years of Powel Crosley, Jr., His Transmitters, Receivers, Products, and Broadcast Station WLW, 1921-1940." In The AWA Review, Vol. 16:2003 (7-94).

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Edwin B. Dooley Collection is mostly comprised of sound recordings, including 1,471 cellulose acetate transcription records, 3,612 vinyl records, 235 reel to reel tapes, and ten 16mm films from WLW-TV. These include off-air transcription recordings produced at the station, field recordings created by WLW's sound engineers during the 1938-39 interference tests, and commercial transcriptions created by traditional subscription services such as Capitol, Standard Program Library, KBS, Thesaurus Orthacoustic, RCA/Victor, MacGregor and World Program Service, as well as government services such as the Treasury Department and the Veterans Administration.. The collection also contains a number of documents including scripts, press kits, letters, program notes and production reports.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

Edwin B. Dooley's widow, Joyce Dooley, donated the collection to the University of Maryland Libraries in two installments, in October 1999 and May 2000.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Processed by Laura Schnitker, October 2011

Processing note:

About one third of this collection has been processed, with about 3,700 syndicated transcription discs yet to be processed.

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Jennie Levine Knies, October 25, 2011

Arrangement of Collection

This collection is organized as four series.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Airchecks, 1938-1956 (833 16-inch discs and 60 78rpm discs)

This series contains airchecks of both local and national programming, from regional stations as well as major networks such as NBC Red, NBC Blue, CBS, Mutual and ABC. Formats include music, drama, suspense, comedy, talk shows, quiz shows, soap operas, variety programs, agricultural shows, advertisements, auditions and test pressings. Each disc has been numbered individually. This series consists of discs #1-784, #1101-1137, #1549-1620.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
A detailed listing of this series may be found by opening this PDF document file series 1box 1folder 1

Series 2: Field Recordings, 1938-1939 (241 16-inch discs)

In 1938, New Jersey station WOR sued WLW for allegedly interfering with their broadcasts, as WLW's transmitter was then broadcasting at 500,000 watts. The discs in this series represent the efforts of the WLW engineers to prove their station's evening broadcasts did not interrupt the airwaves transmitted by WOR.

According to former WLW engineer Bill Alberts, they made two field recording trips. The first was conducted from October to December of 1938, and occurred between Cincinnati and eastern Maine. The second was conducted between January and March in 1939, which took them from southern Ohio all the way to Pensacola, FL. In March, 1939, however, the FCC made their final decision to cut WLW's transmitter power back to 50,000 watts. Therefore, the field recordings were not needed, although the engineers had discovered that WOR's transmissions actually interfered with those of WLW, but no final report was ever written on the project. These discs document the state of radio technology and widespread broadcasting practices in the eastern United States in the late 1930s. For more information on the project, see the Dooley Document File for Bill Alberts's 1939 field notes (Folder #8) and a transcription of the interview Laura Schnitker conducted with Bill Alberts in Leesburg, VA, on February 21, 2006 (Folder #9).

Program descriptions were taken from original sleeve label. Each side of the disc alternates between two programs, one on WLW and the other on WOR. Every five minutes beginning at the top of the hour, the engineer switched the antenna to the other station to test for interference.

Each disc has been numbered individually. This series contains discs #785-965, and #1037-1096.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
A detailed listing of this series may be found by opening this PDF document file series 2box 1folder 1

Series 3: Syndicated Transcriptions, 1940s and 50s (487 16-inch vinyl discs)

Transcription companies recorded music exclusively for radio airplay, which subscribing stations received in the form of 16-inch vinyl discs that were generally commercially unavailable to the public. The discs were leased to radio stations for a fee, and rotated among participating stations until their disposal after a stipulated airplay date.

This series contains transcription discs from Capitol, Standard Program Library, RCA/Victor and Thesaurus Orthacoustic. Each disc has been numbered individually. This series contains discs #966-1036, #1097-1100, #1138-1548 and #1579.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
A detailed listing of this series may be found by opening this PDF document file series 3box 1folder 1

Series 4: Documents, 1935-1989 (11 folders)

Document files including scripts, press kits, letters, program notes and production reports.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Letter from Ed Dooley to pianist Burt Farber, August 28, 1989 series 4box 1folder 1
List of programs donated to WLW by Farber, no date series 4box 1folder 2
"Farber's Show" press release by Mary Wood, no date series 4box 1folder 3
Press kit from Leonard-Frank Programs, Inc., August 10, 1951 series 4box 1folder 4
NEA production report, July 2, 1941 series 4box 1folder 5
Chuck Acree ad copy and production report,, February 14, 1948 series 4box 1folder 6
Letter to R.J. Rockwell, chief engineer at WLW, from Vernon Madill, no date series 4box 1folder 7
Copy of Bill Alberts's field notebook, 1938-1939 series 4box 1folder 8
Transcription of L. Schnitker's interview with Bill Alberts, February 21, 2006 series 4box 1folder 9
Script for "School of the Air's Meet the Author: Stefan Zweig,", April 12, 1937 series 4box 1folder 10
"Another Engineer Saves History," by Chuck Howell, 2000 series 4box 1folder 11

Related Material

For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.