Built in 1946, the small but venerable River Music Hall located within the River’s studio in Haverhill, MA has hosted more than 850 stirring live performances. In many cases, these intimate performances have occurred in front of lucky River listeners, and the songs recorded over the years are a staple of 92.5 The River’s daily offerings.
Below you’ll find a bit of the River Music Hall’s rich history, as well as links to some of the many great past performances to take place inside this space.
Stay tuned to hear who’ll perform next—live in the River Music Hall. Click here to stream past performances.
You can also view a Photo Gallery showing many of River Music Hall’s many talented performers.
If these walls could talk
In 1946, long before the advent of commercial FM radio, WHAV-AM was built in downtown Haverhill. It was a grand structure for a radio station of the day, and it was built around the idea of broadcasting live musical performances. A cavernous studio was built on the top floor of the station specifically for this purpose. This studio measured 30′ long, 20′ wide and 16′ high, with exotic, acoustically designed walls and ceilings. All of the surfaces were either curved or tilted to prevent echoes and to improve the sound. There was even a grand piano installed.
Thus began the era of live radio performances at WHAV-AM. Listeners would wake up to the sounds of live Big Band music coming from their AM radios as WHAV became an important local radio station. This continued until the end of the 1950′s, when Rock ‘n’ Roll came on the scene and changed music forever. The era of recorded music had arrived, and the “45″ swept away live music from the airwaves—seemingly forever. Soon the live music stopped at WHAV-AM and the beautiful performance studio was left quiet. Over time, small rooms were retrofitted into part of the cavernous hall for mundane clerical functions.
The 50,000 watt FM station broadcasting on 92.5 went on the air in the 60′s. And in the 70′s and 80′s, 92.5 FM used the taped beautiful music formats of the day. Ironically, those big machines which played those enormous reels of taped “Muzak” were moved into what remained of the old performance studio, useful now only because of the room’s enormous size. The acoustically designed walls remained, and visitors admired them and wondered about their purpose, now far in the past.
So it remained until 1995 when the station became WXRV/92.5 the River on August 1st. The programming architects of the River knew that live music should play a role in the new format called Adult Album Alternative. This format would be based on new artists, singers and songwriters, and would present the artists live and in-person, spontaneously performing their music to fans and listeners alike. And of course, everyone at the River realized that they had just the right room for these performances. The first live performance took place just a week later on August 7th, when Peter Case came to play for 20 River listeners and staff.
The rest, as they say, is history. The old studio was reborn as the River Music Hall and was again the home to live music. The River Music Hall performances are now an integral part of the River’s programming concept. The room has been carefully restored to its original look, and recording artists almost daily perform there. They admire it, sign its walls, and appreciate its acoustic excellence. By now, over 850 live performances have emanated from the River Music Hall, many in front of lucky River listeners. And the songs recorded over the years are a staple of 92.5 the River’s daily offerings.