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Edwin B. Dooley WLW collection

 Collection 0036-MMC-LAB

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 became 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 recordings spanning several radio broadcasting decades.

This collection consists mostly 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. There are also documents, including scripts, press kits, letters, program notes, and production reports.


  • 1935-1960
  • Majority of material found within 1940s-1950s

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open to the public and must be used in the Special Collections reading room. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. This collection contains audiovisual materials. Items that cannot be used in the Special Collections reading room or are too fragile for researchers require that a digital copy be made prior to use. If you would like to access these materials, please contact us prior to your visit.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


5328 audio materials

245 Tape Reels : 245 reel-to-reel audio tapes

2695 Sound Discs : vinyl and acetate transcription discs

10 Film Reels : 16mm film

Scope and Content of 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.


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.


  1. "The WLW 500 KW Transmitter," by Clyde Haehnle and Ed Dooley
  2. 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).


This collection is organized as four series. Materials are arranged by format and topic. Refer to the external documents for an inventory of audio-visual content.

  1. Series 1: Airchecks
  2. Series 2: Field Recordings
  3. Series 3: Syndicated Transcriptions
  4. Series 4: Documents

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

About one third of this collection has been processed, with about 3,700 syndicated transcription discs yet to be processed. Reel-to-reel audio tapes were partially processed separately from the transcription discs. The separate inventory of 112 out of the total 245 reel-to-reel tapes includes reel numbers based on the order in which they were received, reel numbers as identified on the reel's container or accompanying contents sheet, and a physical description of the reel. Reel-to-reel audio is not yet included in the series arrangement. Materials were arranged by format and topic. Refer to the external documents for a complete inventory.

Guide to the Edwin B. Dooley WLW Collection
Minimally Processed
Processed by Laura Schnitker, October 2011.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • 2011-10-25: EAD markup checked and verified using Oxygen software by Jennie Levine Knies.
  • 2012-08-20: Tagged with relevant subject headings- Chuck Howell.
  • 2017-11-03: Finding aid reviewed and edited by Rebecca Thayer.
  • 2018-02-08: Inventories of discs and reel-to-reel added as external documents added, broken links removed, use and access to collection notes updated, and collection-level and series-level processing and arrangement notes updated by Jen Wachtel.
  • 2018-02-11: Inventory of 16mm film added by Jen Wachtel.
  • 2021-07-23: Jim Baxter re-wrote the collection abstract.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742