WCLY began broadcasting from Raleigh, North Carolina in 1962 as WNOH. WNOH was a country station founded by N.O. Harris, owner of Harris Distributors. WNOH's antenna was very near where the present-day Interstate 40 crosses Lake Wheeler Road, and its studios were located in the Jack Wardlaw Building on Hillsborough St. WNOH switched to Top 40 as WYNA in 1966. The station would later return to country under former WKIX owner Hugh Holder. With country music taking root on the FM dial, WYNA became Top 40 again as WRZR "The Rock of Raleigh" in 1982.
The station was also known briefly as WSES from 1983 until it became WCLY in 1987. The station's black gospel format came on line after the failed Top 40 format. That same decade, construction of I-40 through southern Raleigh forced the station to move their antenna to Maywood Avenue, where it shares a tower with WLLE (now WFNL). In the late 1990s both stations were bought by Curtis Media Group.