WTIC-FM was one of the two pre-World War II FM stations in Connecticut, signing on the air originally as W1XSO on February 5, 1940 and using a frequency of 43.5 MHz. In December 1941, it became a commercial operation using the call letters W53H. In 1943, the call letters were changed for the last time to WTIC-FM. On April 17, 1948, the station moved to 96.5 MHz where it has remained, and switched to a classical music format. It switched from classical to CHR/Top 40 on May 12, 1977; the first song played as a Top 40 station was "Feels Like The First Time" by Foreigner. The station's classical music library was donated to the University of Hartford radio station WWUH a few months later.
The station switched to its current Hot AC format on June 15, 1994. This was done in order to remove controversial rap music from its playlist. After the switch, the station's sound has become decidedly softer in subsequent years compared to its past, though this has changed in recent years, as the Hot AC format as a whole has embraced more upbeat music. Since 1977, the station has referred to itself on the air variously as "96 Ticks," "96 TIC-FM," and "The New 96-5 TIC."
The original WTIC-FM Top 40 format in the late 1970s consisted of only current hit songs (no oldies) in a high-energy, jingle-heavy presentation designed by consultant Mike Joseph, and it was an instant success. Joseph would later term this formatic approach "Hot Hits" and put it into use at other stations around the United States, most notably WBBM-FM in Chicago. Clips of the station during its "96 Tics" "Hot Hits" era and afterwards can be heard at www.stevemcvie.com and www.reelradio.com.