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|City of license||Latrobe, Pennsylvania|
|Broadcast area||Latrobe, Pennsylvania / Pittsburgh|
|Branding||My Radio 1480|
|First air date||August 11, 1956 (as WTRA)|
|Format||Adult Standards, Sports|
|Power||500 watts (non-directional Daytime)
1000 watts (directional Night)
|Owner||Longo Media Group, Inc.|
WCNS is a commercially licensed AM radio station, licensed to Latrobe, Pennsylvania. WCNS broadcasts at the federally assigned frequency of 1480 kilohertz, with a daytime power output of 500 watts, and a nighttime power of 1,000 watts. The station broadcasts non-directionally during the daytime, and uses a four-tower directional antenna pattern at night.
Beginnings as WTRA
Beginning in 1956, WTRA signed on four years after the debut of another Latrobe AM station, WQTW, known then as WAKU. The station was owned by Latrobe Broadcasters, Inc., a company headed by Martin Barsky, and maintained studios and offices at 204 Main Street in downtown Latrobe. The station was later sold in 1966 to WTRA Broadcasting Corporation and relocated to the historic Miller Hotel on Ligonier Street, where it remained until the hotel was destroyed by a fire in 1974. WTRA general manager Albert Calisti would go on to start his own radio station, WBCW in Jeannette that same year. WCNS would then relocate to 317 Depot Street, where it would remain until the turn of the 21st Century.
Three years after WTRA signed on, a substitute DJ by the name of John Longo was hired as an employee, and 30 years later, Longo would assume the ownership of this station. Though Longo would later leave what would later become WCNS to pursue advancement opportunities at other neighboring stations, he would later return in 1982, three years after the station was sold by WTRA Broadcasting to Advance Communications Corporation. With the ownership change came a new set of call letters...WCNS. The newly named station, now boasting a new country format, saw its most dramatic changes under Advance's ownership and Longo's leadership.
WCNS Sees Major 'Advances' in Dramatic Growth Period
The station operated as a daytime-only radio station competing against WQTW for much of its existence, until it received permission in 1984 to broadcast with nighttime power. With this move, WCNS became one of only 15 affiliates in the United States at the time to affiliate with the Transtar Radio Network. The move was made to avoid a costly expense of hiring additional on-air personalities, putting the existing announcers to local news and sports duties, where their talents would be better utilized. The station then affiliated with Transtar's 'Country Coast to Coast' format. It was a bold move indeed, because stations utilizing satellite-delivered music formats were more music-intensive FM stations, and WCNS was one of the very few AM's that went the satellite route. A nearby AM station north of Latrobe, WCCS, (known then as WRID and licensed to Homer City in Indiana County) had achieved success less than a year before using the same concept.
With the addition of nighttime power, WCNS also built a new transmitter facility adjacent to the Westmoreland County airport, increasing the amount of its towers from one to four. WCNS also had the advantage of being the only radio station in Latrobe on the air at around this time, as the studios and offices of WQTW had been consumed in a fire the year before, which left that station silent for approximately nine months.
One by one, WCNS began to add regional sports franchises to further augment its position as a full-service station for Westmoreland County, though it was not licensed to the county seat of Greensburg. WCNS signed affiliate agreements for Pittsburgh Steelers football, University of Pittsburgh football and Pittsburgh Pirates baseball.
Sale To Longo Media Group
In January 1989, John Longo, having by this time established a solid reputation as a successful sales manager, programming and marketing consultant, and a general manager, purchased the very station where he began his career 30 years ago under the name of his newly formed company, Longo Media Group. It was a family-owned business in every sense of the word. Longo managed the station and sold airtime, his wife Donna served as the station's business manager, and his adult children, John Paul and Lisa, also sold airtime.
Recognizing the need for an adult contemporary music format to complement the full-service elements of WCNS, Longo Media Group switched affiliation agreements to Transtar's AC II format. Later that year, Longo acquired an FM station 13 miles north in Blairsville, known then as WNQQ, giving WCNS an FM sister station (though not co-located until years later) for the first time in its history. The new station was assigned the call letters WLCY-FM.
In an unusual move that eventually paid off, WCNS agreed to affiliate with the Post-Gazette Radio Network, which started up during a 1992 strike that stopped the presses at both the Post-Gazette and its separately owned but co-managed affiliate, the Pittsburgh Press. After the strike had settled, the newspaper decided on short notice to cease the Post-Gazette Network's operations and sell its satellite-delivery network to the KBL Sports Network, the local cable TV network in Pittsburgh that carried Pittsburgh Penguin hockey. Because KBL had also acquired the radio rights to broadcast Penguin hockey, they offered the old PGN affiliates first right of refusal for carrying the broadcasts...many of which were NOT already carrying the games.
Because WCNS and WLCY were both PGN affiliates, Longo Media Group agreed to carry the games on both stations. WCNS had exclusive radio game rights for Westmoreland County, and WLCY had the exclusive radio game rights for Indiana County...taking the game broadcasts from respective competitors WHJB (now WKHB) and WCCS. This locked up the third and final Pittsburgh pro sports franchise for WCNS in 1993.
The next year, WCNS switched its format to oldies and took the moniker "Oldies 1480 WCNS". In 2006, following the lead of many oldies-formatted stations, WCNS chose to discard the "oldies" portion of the moniker and switched to "My Radio 1480", though the music format remained the same until early 2009, when it switched to adult standards.
Despite a very successful run of 13 years that demonstrated long-term profitability for Longo Media Group, John Longo in 2002 decided to sell WLCY to Pittsburgh-based Renda Broadcasting Corporation, which had been looking to establish a foothold in the Indiana County market. Longo Media did retain possession of WCNS.
WCNS continues to enjoy success as Westmoreland's County's exclusive full-service radio station, as WHJB, the county's first radio station, eventually changed its city of license from Greensburg to Irwin to serve the eastern Pittsburgh suburbs and changed its call letters to WKHB. Longtime WCNS announcers Dow Carnahan and Chuck Campbell have each been with WCNS for more than 25 years.
- Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Radio Days
- Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: One Joke
- 1957 Broadcasting Yearbook
- 1967 Broadcasting Yearbook
- 1981 Broadcasting Yearbook
- WCNS Website
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WCNS
- Radio-Locator Information on WCNS
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WCNS