The station first signed on the air as WMSR-FM, licensed to the city of Manchester, Tennessee on March 29, 1979. It began focusing on the Nashville market in the early 1990s. Manchester is nearly halfway between Nashville and Chattanooga, but the Cumberland Plateau prevents a Manchester signal from penetrating Chattanooga, and vice-versa. Currently, its far-reaching signal covers most of Middle Tennessee, even venturing into parts of Northern Alabama and Southern Kentucky. WWTN's studios are currently located in Nashville's Music Row area. The city of license changed to Hendersonville in 2008, as part of a larger project that saw four of Cumulus' five Nashville stations change cities of license in the process of allowing sister-station WNFN to move its transmitter and increase power.
The station was mired in bankruptcy in the early 1990s until being purchased by Gaylord Entertainment Company in 1995. During this period, it broadcast a mixture of locally-originated general interest talk programming, sports talk, and the Business Radio Network. Within three years subsequent to the Gaylord purchase, WWTN was Nashville's highest-billing radio station, a position it continues to hold as of 2005. It, along with sister station WSM-FM, was sold to Cumulus Media in 2003 for $65 million .