History + Alumni

     Station History

In In 1922, Professor Westhafer, the one and only physics professor at Wooster, had finished designing a radio transmitter. The department had decided to display it at an open house in April. The audience crowded into Severance Gym (which is now Ebert Art Center ) to listen to the broadcast but to everyone’s chagrin, nothing happened. Try as they might, nothing could be done to fix it. Fortunately, Vic Andrews was attending Wooster in 1922. Vic was a genius in physics and went on to found the Andrew Corporation , which is still one of the largest suppliers of industrial and military communication equipment in the United States (Vic Andrew also invented coaxial cable). Vic helped design a new, fully functional transmitter for the physics department.

In 1926, radio at Wooster became official. It was called WABW and only remained on the air for a year. During that year only fine arts and sports were broadcast on WABW. WABW only used 50 Watts of power (as opposed to the 1050 Watts now used by WCWS). Interestingly enough, WABW could still be tuned in as far away as Minnesota or Massachusetts. This is because AM uses longer wavelengths which can be received at much greater distances. In any case, WABW went off the air after one year, and radio disappeared from Wooster for over 20 years.

In the fall of 1949, Bob Smith came to The College of Wooster as a freshman. Bob was the man destined to be the Chief Engineer at WCWS (then called WCW), but that is another story. He petitioned the administration for a campus radio station. Generously, they agreed and gave the new facility a start-up budget of $50. In 1949 that kind of money went a lot further than it can go today but it still was not much to start a radio station. It certainly was not enough money to buy an industrial transmitter of any kind. Bob’s solution was a simple homemade AM carrier current. Carrier current couples the transmitter’s signal to an existing power line to a building (rather than to an antenna). Many carrier current stations exist at colleges like ours. One of their advantages is that they don’t need a tower to broadcast. In addition, they can only broadcast to a limited number of people, and as such, are not regulated by the FCC. The new Wooster carrier current station was called WCW. As you can imagine with a homemade transmitter, WCW struggled to stay on the air despite many technical problems. In the spring of 1950, the student senate allotted an annual budget of $200 for WCW.

But perhaps Bob is remembered less for his creation of the station and more for a stunt he pulled as a student. Bob Smith, like all people in radio, wanted more listeners. He devised a plan that would allow the entire community of Wooster to hear WCW. He coupled WCW’s transmitter to the main power truck that linked all of Wooster. It worked perfectly until the administration received some long distance calls about a radical new station called WCW, which put a temporary shutdown. But radio at Wooster was here to stay.

The WCW staff grew in both size and experience over the next several years. In 1957, WCW was able to break away from the boundaries of being a carrier current station. Ted Evens, the general manager for WWST (a commercial station) offered WCW two hours a day of broadcasting time on his station. This, coupled with a donation of a dedicated telephone line from the WCW studios to WWST from the Ohio Central Telephone Company, allowed WCW to no longer rely on the carrier current system. For the next nine years, WCW staff produced 20 shows per week, including lectures, faculty recitals and cultural programming pre-recorded from British Broadcasting Corporation and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation . These programs were sent directly to WWST via the dedicated line.

In November of 1966 WWST broke off its agreement with WCW because of the profitability of FM. WCW was forced to look into other alternatives for broadcasting. The result was WCWS. In 1968 WCW became WCWS, broadcasting at 91.9 FM and utilizing 388 Watts. Like most other new endeavors the new WCWS ran into problems. For instance, it was discovered that it didn’t broadcast as far as was intended. In fact, there were several places on campus where WCWS could not be picked up. This was because the antenna for the station was shorter than the surrounding trees and buildings and could not cover the intended area.

At first, broadcast only included fine arts and sports, but within the first year, two technologies arrived and greatly expanded the format. The first broadcasting of the New York Metropolitan Opera was in December of 1968; phone lines from New York carried this broadcast. The second was the addition of the UPI (United Press) service to WCWS. The UPI greatly enhanced the limited news department at the station.

For the next 15 years, things remained relatively stable at the station. As is true with any student-run organization, much of what happened at the station depended on the current philosophy and interest of the students involved. In 1984, Chief Engineer Herman Gibbs filed an application for a construction permit with the FCC to increase the wattage to 890 Watts. He also requested a new antenna tower measuring over 100 feet! In the fall of 1985 the tower was complete and WCWS was being received as far away as 20 miles. In that same year, Texaco announced that it would be giving WCWS a satellite dish from which we could receive the Metropolitan Opera . The new satellite allowed the station to receive the “Met” in stereo. So in January of 1985, Gibbs installed a stereo generator and WCWS was suddenly a stereo FM station.

Since 1985, there have been few major changes at WCWS. The first was a frequency change from 91.9 to 90.9 FM. This was done to allow for an output increase without bleeding into Kenyon’s radio station, which was also broadcasting at 91.9. While the FCC approved this change in 1987, the station never achieved full output. What was soon discovered after the output increase was that WCWS was affecting experiments in the Physics Department . The transmitter was much too powerful to be located inWishart Hall . Certain adjustments were made and the power was modified (as were broadcasting hours) to allow the Physics Department certain hours to conduct experiments.

In 1992, the station transmitter was moved to Back Orville Road , the location of the three hundred foot antenna. This solved the interference problem with the Physics Department, and due to the additional height and elevated location of the transmitter; WCWS can cover the Wooster area more thoroughly without using its full power potential.

Under the FCC Table of Allotments, WNZR (the Nazarene College of Mount Vernon ) also broadcasts at 90.9 MHz, which keeps WCWS from maximizing its wattage potential.

In the Fall of 2004, a Texas Christian Radio group challenged WCWS during it’s FCC license renewal. The student management, under then General Manager Andrew Darneille ’05, responded by taking on the challenging task of improving the quality of the station. A new identity and logo were designed, and in January of 2005, WCWS became known in the community as WOO 91 – Wooster ‘s Sound Alternative. The new WOO 91 organized the daily scheduling of DJs to bring more continuity to its listeners, and worked with the DJs to create a more professional sound. These efforts paid off in May of 2005 when the FCC denied the challenge to the license renewal.

As a further step to prevent future challenges to the station’s license, on August 1 st , 2005 , WCWS began broadcasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week year round. This was done by becoming the first radio station in the country to utilize the Quebbe music system for broadcasting. This step has increased the station’s music selection.

In the fall of 2013, WCWS moved out of Wishart Hall to Lowry Center, Wooster’s student center. The Lowry Center studios have proven to be a more visible place for WOO 91, and will hopefully lead to an increase in student participation on the air.

WCWS continues to bring the Wooster community it’s only non-stop, commercial free station, 365 days a year that is focused on forward-thinkng college radio that enlightens, educates, and entertains our listeners. By tuning in to WOO 91, you’re becoming a part of the story!


Many former WCWS DJs who have graduated from the College of Wooster have continued to pursue careers in broadcasting. Those individuals are recognized below.

Are you an alumni coming back to campus and would like to check out the station? If so, please e-mail wcws@wooster.edu

Diana Davis ’75 
Diana Davis is the health reporter for WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News in Atlanta, where she has been since 1983. Prior to that, she worked for KTVI-TV in St. Louis, where she was the medical reporter. She is an eight-time recipient of the Medical Association of Georgia’s Gold Award for outstanding medical coverage. A 1975 Wooster graduate, Diana has been awarded “Best Specialty Reporting” by the Associated Press on four occasions, as well as the American Medical Association National Medical Reporting Award. She is also a three-time Emmy winner. Born in Mineola, N.Y., Diana earned her degree in art history at Wooster.

Arlene Kemejak ’75 
Arlene Kemejak was a member of the WCWS staff during her undergraduate days at Wooster. After graduation, she joined WKYC-TV 3, an NBC television station in Cleveland, as an engineer, becoming one of the first female engineers with an FCC first-class radio-telephone license in Cleveland. She has worked in all technical facets of television, including working Cleveland Browns games. Currently, she creates graphics in the production department for Channel 3 News.

David Mellon ’53 
As a member of the WCWS Radio staff, David Mellon convinced a local record shop to loan him records in return for a mention on his show. As a senior in 1953, he hosted a Top 10 countdown show. After graduation, he became executive director of the Greater Trenton Council of Churches in New Jersey but remained active in radio, doing an interview program on WTTM. He continued to do radio and television programs in Connecticut, first as executive director for the Capitol Region Conference of Churches in Hartford, and then as executive minister of the New Britain Area Conference of Churches. One of the highlights of his career was serving as executive producer and host of a Sunday morning interview program, which aired on the local NBC affiliate.

Tom Messner ’82 
Tom Messner worked at WCWS between 1978-1982. He served as program director as a junior and general manager as a senior. After graduating from Wooster in 1982 with a degree in business economics, Tom worked at a variety of radio stations in Ohio and New York from 1980 through 1988, when he jumped to television. In 1990, he earned the National Weather Association Seal of Approval for broadcast meteorologists. Since that time, he has been the chief meteorologist for WPTZ in Plattsburgh, N.Y., which also covers a portion of the market in Montreal, Quebec. He also serves as chief meteorologist for four radio station. In addition, he has been an on-air weather correspondent for the Today Show, The Weather Channel, CNBC, and Live with Regis & Kelly.

Scott Peterle ’81
Scott Peterle got his start in broadcasting as chief engineer at WCWS Radio and has been in the field ever since. He remembers the station for its professionalism and its popularity, particularly among areas businesses. After graduation, Scott went directly into commercial radio, first in Ohio and then in Kansas. His responsibilities included on-air work as well as production and engineering. While in Wichita, he earned his pilot’s license. Then in 1991, he accepted an engineering position for three stations in Hawaii. His dream job came in 1993 when he began to give on-air traffic reports in Kansas City. In 1996, he and his wife returned to Hawaii to start their own traffic reporting service. Most recently, he was the traffic anchor for 50,000-watt news/talk giant KIRO in Seattle.

Robert Pisor ’61 
Robert Pisor worked at The College of Wooster’s radio station when it was known as WCW. As a student, he also worked at WWST in Wooster and WILE in Cambridge. After graduation, he became a writer at NBC in New York City, then earned his master’s degree at Columbia University’s graduate school of journalism. He covered politics and the war in Vietnam for 12 years at The Detroit News, served as press secretary to Detroit Mayor Coleman A. Young, and worked 11 years at WDIVTV in Detroit as newspaper critic, political reporter, military analyst, and occasional anchor. He is the author of The End of the Line , a narrative history of the siege of Khe Sanh. In 1995, he founded Stone House Bread, an artisan bread bakery in Traverse City, Mich., winning national attention in The New York Times, Forbes FYI , and Bon Apetit .

Robert Smith ’51 
Robert Smith holds a significant place in the history of radio at The College of Wooster. As a student, he helped to found and manage the College’s new WCW Radio in 1949. After graduating in 1951 with a degree in English Literature, Robert earned post-graduate credits in business administration at Rutgers and Lehigh. He then received a master’s in communication from the department of radio, television, and motion pictures from the University of North Carolina in 1962. His career in broadcasting includes serving as director of WUNC television at North Carolina State and director of programming at WETA public television in Washington, D.C., as well as vice president and general manager of the Northern Virginia Education Television Association, and president and general manager of the Public Broadcasting Foundation of Northwest Ohio.

John Wetherbee ’74
With a name like Wetherbee, it’s no surprise that this former WCWS staff member ultimately became a television weatherman. A self-proclaimed “weather geek,” John is currently the CBS 46 storm tracker meteorologist in Atlanta. He worked in radio as a program director, operations, and general manager for stations in Chicago, Atlanta, and Ohio, and is currently programming oldies station Cool 105.7. He went back to school at Mississippi State in broadcast meteorology in 1995 and earned his AMS weather seal and NWA certification. He continues to serve as president of the local AMS chapter. He can be heard on great radio stations across the country, including Chicago, St. Louis, Nashville, San Antonio, Phoenix, and Columbus. He can also be overheard internationally as far away as Tokyo.

Howard King ’53
When Howard King volunteered to step in as public address announcer for football games at Wooster High School as a freshman, he had no idea that one day he would ascend to the same position with one of the most storied college football programs in the nation – the University of Michigan. A 1953 Wooster graduate, Howard worked at WCWS and WWST Radio. He also did public address for Scot football and basketball games. After a stint in the Marine Corps, he returned to Wooster in 1959 and spent the next 13 years, first in the office of admissions and then with the dean of students. He moved to Ann Arbor in 1972, and, on a whim, auditioned for the vacant position of public address announcer at Michigan. To his surprise, he was selected, and in September of 2005, he will begin his 34th season as “The Voice of Michigan Stadium.”

Eric Filios ’73 
Eric Filios has made the most of his experience at WCWS Radio. A speech major with a concentration in radio and television, Eric was on the air every morning from 5:30-7:30 a.m. with his popular “At Dawn” show. He did his Senior Independent Study on “Radio Station Ownership and Management” and graduated with honors in 1973. Since that time, he has held a variety of positions in the broadcast industry, from directing evening newscasts at an ABC affiliate in North Carolina to editing and directing “Inside Nascar” for TNN. In 1994, he opened his own company, Aardvark Productions, a post-production firm that edits documentaries, independent films, commercials, corporate videos, and display video in high definition exclusively on non-linear systems. His clients include ESPN and other networks. Eric dreams of landing his first Telly soon.

Keith Humphry ’71 
Keith Humphry is celebrating his 25th year as a news anchor and reporter for WDBJ-TV in Roanoke, Virginia’s most-watched local newscast. He also covers court and legal issues, and his assignments have taken him across the country and around the world. Prior to his position at WDBJ, Keith spent four years as a news anchor and reporter at WHYY, the public television station in Philadelphia. He also earned his master’s degree at The American University School of Communication. While at Wooster, Keith served as news director in his junior year and general manager as a senior. He says that the late Dr. Win Logan made him appreciate broadcasting “as more than a pastime, but a true calling, and adds that his time producing newscasts and managing WCWS Radio are among his fondest Wooster memories.