The station is locally owned and operated by the Runnymede Corporation. WNKO began operating in 1972 and is the sister station to WHTH.
The station had previously covered only the Newark, Ohio vicinity with 3000 watts of power. In 2009 WNKO filed an application to change its city of license to New Albany, Ohio, change its transmitter location, and upgrade power. The move was tentative on WKSW (now WCLI-FM), formerly in Urbana, Ohio, completing a move into the Dayton market and switching frequencies from 101.7 to 101.5. Until this move was completed, WNKO could not move because its signal was short-spaced with WKSW.
On March 25, 2011, WNKO began broadcasting from its new transmitter in Johnstown, Ohio. With this change, the station began providing a serviceable signal to the Columbus metropolitan area.
The station's management states that WNKO will continue to focus exclusively on serving the Newark area. In fact, the station identifies itself hourly as "WNKO New Albany-Newark". However, it is speculated that the move was done to prepare to sell the station in the more lucrative Columbus market.