|City of license||Durham, North Carolina|
|Broadcast area||Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill
Research Triangle Park
|Branding||620 The Buzz|
|First air date||February 1934|
|Power||5,000 watts days
1,000 watts nights
|Callsign meaning||W Durham, North Carolina (city of license)|
CBS Sports Radio
|Sister stations||WCLY, WCMC-FM, WRAL, WRAL-TV, WRAZ|
WDNC is a Sports Talk radio station licensed to Durham, North Carolina but based in Raleigh, North Carolina with a frequency of 620 AM. WDNC and branded 620 the Buzz and is affiliated with the ESPN Radio Network. In addition, WDNC is the flagship station for the Duke Blue Devils and is the local affiliate of the Charlotte Bobcats. The station's studios are in Raleigh, and the transmitter site is in Durham.
Durham's first radio station hit the air in February 1934, when then-Mayor W.F. Carr and several investors saw the need for a radio station in what was then the state's 3rd-largest city. They bought Wilmington-based 1370 WRAM (formerly WRBT) and moved its license and equipment to studios in Durham atop the Washington Duke Hotel downtown at the corner of Corcoran and Chapel Hill Streets (later known as the Carolina and the Jack Tar Hotel; the structure was imploded in 1975). The newly relocated station signed on with 100 watts at 1500 AM as CBS affiliate WDNC. In 1936, WDNC was purchased by the Herald-Sun Newspapers, publishers of the Durham Morning Herald and The Durham Sun. At this time, the station's studios were moved into the Herald-Sun's building at 138 East Chapel Hill Street, literally next door to the Washington Duke Hotel. In 1938, WDNC increased its power from 100 to 250 watts.
The NARBA frequency realignment of 1941 saw the station relocate to 1490 AM. During this time, their antenna was located near present-day Forest Hills Park on South Street. WDNC's last broadcast from this site came on February 28, 1948. On the next day, which was Leap Day, WDNC abandoned its 1490 dial position and 250-watt signal for a new three-tower directional array on Shocoree Drive in western Durham which operated with 5,000 watts daytime and 1,000 watts nighttime at a new frequency on the other end of the dial, 620 AM. Leap Day 1948 turned out to be a very eventful day in Durham broadcasting history: As WDNC fired up their new, more powerful plant, they also signed on WDNC-FM, at 105.1 MHz. Making the day even more memorable was that WDNC's old 1490 dial position was immediately occupied by a new station, WSSB.
In 1952, WDNC's parent company, the Herald-Sun Newspapers, applied to build a TV station in Durham on the city's newly alloted VHF channel 11. The owners of cross-town competitor WTIK had also applied for channel 11. The two parties later joined their efforts under the banner "Durham Broadcasting Enterprises" and signed on WTVD, channel 11 on September 2, 1954. The newly formed enterprise sold the station to Albany, NY-based Capital Cities Broadcasting in 1957 (the same Capital Cities which bought the ABC TV network in the mid-1980s).
WDNC remained a CBS affiliate and the home of big band and popular standards until 1991, when their focus shifted towards more talk-based programming. In 1992, WDNC and its FM sister station, by now known as WDCG "G-105", relocated to Park Forty Plaza, just off Interstate 40 along NC Highway 55 in southeastern Durham, as the newspaper abandoned their downtown building for a new facility at 2828 Pickett Road in southwestern Durham. Shortly thereafter, the newspaper, wanting to focus more on its publishing divisions, put the two radio properties on the market. It was around this time that radio ownership rules were being relaxed.
WDCG was sold in 1993, but there were no takers for WDNC. In 1994, the company entered into a local marketing agreement with Capitol Broadcasting Company (CBC), which allowed the Raleigh-based company control over WDNC's sales, marketing and programming with an option to buy. Capitol, already in the process of moving their minor league baseball team, the Durham Bulls, into the new Durham Bulls Athletic Park being built by the city, announced plans to move WDNC into the ballpark upon its completion in 1995. In the meantime, the station would operate from the basement of the new Herald-Sun building. Capitol redubbed the station the "Smart Choice for News and Sports", and, in late 1995, implemented an all-news format under the handle, "The News Station", using the Associated Press' all-news network supplemented with reports from the WRAL-TV newsroom. After three years, the agreement proved non-profitable for CBC. In 1997, Curtis Media Group took over the LMA from Capitol, replacing the news-centered schedule with more syndicated talk shows and paid programming until it bought the WDNC license from the Herald-Sun in 2000.
In November 2002, WDNC began a simulcast with Raleigh station WDNZ (now WFNL), 570 AM. That arrangement lasted until November 1, 2005, when WDNC entered into yet another LMA, this time with McClatchey Broadcasting, then-owner of WRBZ "850 the Buzz", a more locally-oriented sports talk station. The station flipped to sports talk as "620 The Bull".
From July 2006 to June 2007, WDNC was home to an afternoon talk show featuring former ECU football head coach Steve Logan, before moving on to take the offensive coordinator position at Boston College.
Late in 2008, Don Imus returned to the Triangle for the first time since the incident involving the Rutgers women's basketball team. Imus replaced Mike and Mike in the Morning as WDNC de-emphasized ESPN programming.
On August 10, 2009, Curtis Media (which still owned the station) sold WDNC and sister station WCLY to Capitol Broadcasting Company, in exchange for the North Carolina News Network. The move enables Capitol to concentrate its sports programming across three channels, with WDNC and WCMC-FM receiving some carry-over programming from WRBZ (which Curtis Media received from McClatchey Broadcasting), while WCLY will carry Spanish-language sports programming from ESPN Deportes. WDNC was expected to change its handle to 620 the Buzz beginning in September 2009, but the official changeover happened on November 2 with Adam Gold and Jeff Ovies transferring their morning show over from WRBZ.
WDNC past on-air staff
WDNC has a storied history developing personalities. Many of these on-air figures become long-time Raleigh-Durham favorites, and others moved to bigger markets. Below are some of a few.
- "Poole celebrates 50 years in radio, is grand marshal of Faith parade". Salisbury Post. July 3, 2014. Retrieved July 3, 2014.
- Hooley, Danny (October 27, 2005). "WDNC Turns to Sports". The News & Observer.
- Megargee, Steve (June 21, 2007). "B.C.'s Logan goes from radio booth to sideline". Rivals.com.
- Van Der Horst, Roger (October 15, 2008). "Imus Returning to Triangle Radio". The News & Observer.
- "Deal reshapes Triangle radio market". WRAL.com. August 10, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-10.
- Baysden, Chris (August 10, 2009). "Sports radio shakeup: Capitol Broadcasting buys 620 the Bull; Curtis gets WRBZ 850". Triangle Business Journal. Retrieved 2009-08-11.
- Huffman, Dane (October 28, 2009). "Sports radio changes coming Monday". WRALSportsFan.com. Retrieved 2009-10-28.
- Radio-Info.com page on the Raleigh-Durham market, with station ratings and trends
- WDNC website
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WDNC
- Radio-Locator Information on WDNC
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WDNC