The station was founded in 1922 as WCAH. The Dispatch bought the station in 1929 and changed the calls to WBNS. The call letters stand for Wolfe Banks, News and Shoes--the businesses controlled by the Wolfe family, owners of the Dispatch (the N, or "News," in the calls) then as now. WBNS is also the AM flagship of the Ohio State IMG Sports Network.
As of February 2011 the station ceased its simulcast of WBNS-FM ("97.1 The Fan") and began offering additional ESPN network programming and announced plans to create original local content such as an MMA show called "Ground & Pound", as well as a coach's show for the local MLS team, the Columbus Crew. On January 5th, 2012 it was announced that the station would carry Cleveland Indians broadcasts in Columbus for the 2012 season, marking the return of the Indians after their absence from the Columbus market for the 2011 season.
WBNS is one of five stations remaining in the U.S. to broadcast from a Blaw-Knox tower, a tower with a distinctive diamond-shaped cantilever design.