microphone Radio Days!



WCEN AM 1150 - Mount Pleasant, MI

This page is a tribute to the early days of radio station WCEN, which served Mount Pleasant, Michigan for 51 years.

Can you help with airchecks, pictures, or other information on WCEN history and personnel? Let us know at

WCEN Timeline

October 16, 1948 Paul A. Brandt, Mount Pleasant, Michigan businessman, applies to the FCC for a broadcast station construction permit.
April 21, 1949 FCC grants construction permit for station WCEN and work begins. Walter Maxwell is Chief Engineer.
August 8, 1949 WCEN goes on the air for the first time as a 500 watt AM daytimer on 1150kc. Studios are located in downtown Mount Pleasant at 112½ East Broadway, above Voisin's Jewelry store. Bob Meskill is Program Director. The transmitter is located about one mile South of the city limits, just East of US-27 on Bluegrass Road.
Late 1949 Walt Maxwell leaves WCEN for RCA. Steve Cole becomes Chief Engineer and General Manager.
April 15, 1951 Planning begins on construction of a three-tower directional array, increased daytime power, and nighttime operation for WCEN.
December 17, 1951 FCC grants construction permit for WCEN improvements.
January 27, 1952 WCEN construction completed.
February 1, 1952 WCEN applies for license to cover.
February 26, 1952 WCEN begins full time operation on 1150kc with 1000 watts, non-directional daytime and 500 watts directional nighttime power.
March 1, 1952 WCEN joins the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) radio network.
late 1953 WCEN studios move from downtown Mount Pleasant to the Bluegrass Road transmitter site.
1959 WCEN-FM 94.5 goes on the air. The FM transmitter and antenna are co-located at the Bluegrass Road location.
February 1968 WCEN purchased from Paul Brandt by Central Michigan Broadcasting. Chuck Anthony becomes principal owner & General Manager.
1969 A country format is tried for the first time on WCEN-FM.
Spring 1972 WCEN-FM begins broadcasting a mixture of country and rock.
July 1, 1980 WCEN-FM becomes a full-time country station as as "94 Country".
May 1986 WCEN AM & FM is purchased by Richard Sommerville (as Sommerville Broadcasting) from Chuck Anthony & partners. AM programming at the time was a mixture of big-band, religious, adult contemporary, and polkas, with a heavy emphasis on local news and sports. On FM, the programming continued as country, under the positioner "94 Country".
1989 Construction begins on new tower and transmitting facilities near Coleman.
June 1990 WCEN begins AM & FM operations from the new tower near Coleman. Studios are located at 2929 South Isabella Road, Mount Pleasant. The AM signal is reduced to 900 watts non-directional, daytime only and is transitioned to talk programming. The old transmitter site on Bluegrass Road is razed and developed into a retail area.
August 1998 FCC approves assignment of licenses of WCEN & WCEN-FM from Sommerville Broadcasting Company to Sommerville Associates, LLC.
July 2000 Sale of WCEN AM & FM by Sommerville Associates to Wilks Broadcasting for $6 million, pending FCC approval, is announced.
August 2000 FCC approves transfer of WCEN AM & FM to Wilks Broadcasting.
November 2000 WCEN-FM 94.5 moved to Saginaw as Wilks Broadcasting consolidates its station group.
WCEN AM 1150 goes silent after 51 years of service to the Mount Pleasant area.
January 10, 2002 Wilks Broadcasting requests the FCC cancel the license of WCEN AM 1150.
March, 2002 WCEN-FM 94.5 city of license is changed from Mt. Pleasant to Hemlock, Michigan.
May 7, 2002 Sale of WCEN-FM (94.5, Hemlock) and four other stations in its Tri-Cities cluster is announced by Wilks Broadcasting. Cumulus Media will pay $55.6 million for the cluster, which also includes WSGW (790, Saginaw), WTCF-FM (100.5, Saginaw), WGER-FM (106.3, Saginaw), and WTLZ-FM (107.1, Saginaw).
September 6, 2002 Cumulus Media cancels purchase agreement for WCEN-FM (94.5, Hemlock) and the four other stations in Wilks' Tri-Cities cluster.
November 1, 2002 Denver-based NextMedia Radio (part of NextMedia Group, Inc.) enters into purchase agreement for WCEN-FM (94.5, Hemlock) and the four other Wilks stations in its Tri-Cities cluster for $55.5 million.

WCEN Staff
This is a partial list of those who have worked at radio station WCEN (click for biographical information):
A 'star' denotes original staff members.

Duane Alan
Chuck Anthony
Art Asselstine
James Baileystar
Bob Banta
Mindy Bernard
Dan Bethel
Dick Bing
Dan Bragg
Paul Brandt
Roger Brandt
Gary Branson
Gary Bugh (Gary "B")
Joe Caleca
Mike Carey
Paul Careystar
Mary Cascarelli
Stephen Colestar
Rheba Dedie
Gertrude Dimpel
Jerry Downing ("Jerry Lee")
Dick Enberg
Pete Fronczak
Rollie Grambau
Jo Heintz
Fred Heuman
Dan Hole
Jim Hughes
Jim Jennings
Neal Johnson
Verna Johnson
Joe Kisnosky
Roger Klahn
Dick Leonard
Barbara McNeil
Monroe McPherson
Georgia Martin
Walter Maxwellstar
Bob Meskillstar
Tim Moore
Bob Morgan
Bob Munson
Larry Naessens ("Larry Allen")
Corinne Noble
Kevin Oswald
Coleman Peters
John Porterfield
Gil Roberts
Frank Robinsonstar
Chet Rogoza
Arnold "Arnie" Routsonstar
Tina Sawyer
Dan Smith
Gary Sole
John Spitsbergen
Chuck Stevens
Doug Thompson
Gene Umlor
Larry Wentworth
Bob White
Lou Williams
Dick Wood
Kathy Young
Winnona Zoleski

WCEN - the Early Days

Construction of WCEN, Mount Pleasant’s first radio station, began in the spring of 1949 with Walter Maxwell as Chief Engineer. The station was owned by Paul A. Brandt, a Mount Pleasant businessman.

Brandt applied to the FCC for a construction permit for the WCEN on October 16, 1948. The permit was granted April 21, 1949 and construction began. WCEN went on the air for the first time on August 8, 1949 – as a 500 watt AM daytimer on 1150kc. The WCEN transmitter was located about one mile South of the city limits, just East of US-27 on Bluegrass Road. The 500-watt transmitter was made by Gates Radio Company. The transmitting antenna was a 300-foot, shunt fed, self-supporting tower originally belonging to WKAR (870, East Lansing). It was taken down from its original location at Michigan State University and re-installed at Mount Pleasant for WCEN.

WCEN studios were located in downtown Mount Pleasant at 112½ East Broadway, above Voisin's Jewelry store. Bob Meskill was Program Director when the station began broadcasting on Monday, August 8, 1949. The announcing staff consisted of Jim Bailey, Arnold Routson, and Paul Carey. They were joined on-air later that week by Frank Robinson. Click here for Paul Carey's recollection of the first days of WCEN.

In 1951 a three-tower antenna system went up and power was increased to 1000 watts daytime, with 500 watts directional at night. Steve Cole was Chief Engineer and General Manager of WCEN during this time. A new Gates BC-1F transmitter was installed at the transmitter site on Bluegrass Road. The nighttime antenna pattern had four lobes: the main lobe 7.7° East of North (covering Mount Pleasant, Clare, and vicinity), with smaller lobes to the Southeast, and Southwest and a minor lobe to the South. The nulls in the pattern were to the West and East. The antenna pattern was designed to protect co-channel stations CKOC in Hamilton, Ontario (50kw, DA2), CHSJ in St. John, New Brunswick (10/5kw, DA2), WIMA in Lima, Ohio (1kw, DAN), CKX in Brandon, Manitoba (50/10kw, DA2), and WISN in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (5kw, DA2). (In 1965 WISN moved from 1150 to 1130 with a power increase to 50/10kw, DA2. In retrospect, it might have been possible for WCEN to increase nighttime coverage by modification of the antenna pattern.)

The original 300-foot self-supporting tower was sold to North American Drilling Company and moved to West River Road, just West of Meridian Road, Northwest of Mount Pleasant. There, it was put into service as a 2-way radio tower. North American Drilling, which later merged with another company, no longer exists. The tower, however, is still in use today – although it was hit by lightning many years later and now is about half its original height.

In 1953, the WCEN studios moved from downtown Mt. Pleasant to the transmitter site on Bluegrass Road, where they would remain until 1990. WCEN added FM facilities on 94.5 in 1959.

During these years, WCEN was typical full-service station with programming directed toward Mount Pleasant and Isabella County. The station was active in the community and would broadcast from a mobile studio known as "The Satellite."

Roger Brandt recalls his dad, Paul Brandt, "had as a primary goal of the station to broadcast what he considered 'good music' -- Guy Lombardo, Lawrence Welk, etc. I aired a Rock-n-Roll program 'Grooveyard,' in the late '50s. That program was started by Dick Wood of the Wood family that owned an appliance store in Mt. Pleasant. When he left the area, I took over. Grooveyard aired from 7:30 - 9:00 P.M. Monday-Friday and was followed by Starlight Symphony a classical hour of music. When I left the station ... Dan Hole took over the program."

WCEN Changes Hands

In February 1968, WCEN was purchased by Central Michigan Broadcasting. Charles E. Anthony was principal owner and General Manager. Anthony had been General Manager & part owner of WWBC (1250, Bay City) and previously worked at WBCM (then 1440, Bay City). (WWBC, owned by Water Wonderland Broadcasting Corporation, went on the air November 26, 1956. The station changed call letters to WXOX in 1962 and would later become WTCX, WJZZ, WKNX, and finally WNEM in August, 2004. The original WWBC call letters moved to Cocoa, Florida in 1964.)

The format of WCEN (AM) remained pretty much the same during the time Anthony and his partners owned the station. Terri Anthony recalls, "Oddly, Charlie (yes, I DID call [my father] Charlie - everybody did) never really thought FM would make any money. The only reason he ever owned an FM was because it was part of the package with the AM ... He experimented with FM just because he could. He considered it his 'gravy', as most of the money came from AM. In 1969, Gary Branson convinced Charlie to try country format. My dad balked, my mother said 'who LISTENS to that stuff?', and it was agreed that they'd try it. Gary ultimately left WCEN sometime in 1970 to go to work for Bobby Goldsboro. Anyway, country worked, so that was pretty much the format. Exceptions were made after sunset, as Larry Naessens was into oldies. And there WAS the Tiger Baseball contract to consider ..." To this day, country continues to be the format of WCEN-FM.

In May 1986, WCEN again changed hands when it was purchased by Sommerville Broadcasting. AM programming at the time was a mixture of big-band, religious, adult contemporary, and polkas, with a heavy emphasis on local news and sports. On FM, the programming continued as "94 Country".