|City||Ithaca, New York|
|Broadcast area||Ithaca, New York|
|Branding||News-Talk 97.7 & 870|
|Translator(s)||97.7 W249DW (Ithaca)|
|First air date||January 23, 1923 (as WEAI)|
|Power||5,000 watts (day)|
1,000 watts (night)
175 watts (translator)
|Callsign meaning||W Home of Cornell University (original owner)|
CBS Radio News
|Sister stations||WIII, WNYY, WQNY, WYXL|
WHCU (870 kHz) is a radio station in Ithaca, New York, that programs a news/talk radio format. The station has been owned by Saga Communications since 2005, after having been owned by Cornell University. Its programming is also simulcast on FM translator W249DW 97.7 MHz.
The forerunner to WHCU began in 1912 as an experiment in the School of Electrical Engineering at Cornell University. The original call letters were 8YC, later changed to 8XU. A forerunner of the Federal Communications Commission issued a broadcast license on May 27, 1922, with the call letters WEAI. The new station took to the air on January 23, 1923. The station was used as a vehicle for promoting the university's extension service and all of its programming was educational in nature.
In 1932, Cornell joined with the Elmira Star-Gazette to start the radio station WESG in Elmira, New York, which shared programming with WEAI. The Star-Gazette managed the station during this period. However, the FCC ordered Cornell in 1940 to run the station itself or surrender the license. Within 12 hours of the deadline, the station signed on with borrowed staff and equipment.
WESG became WENY and WEAI became WHCU, which stands for Home of Cornell University.
WHCU's first complete studios and offices were completed in 1941. New studios were built in downtown Ithaca in 1957.
Cornell University sold WHCU and its sister station WYXL to Eagle Communications in 1985. Six years later, the stations moved into a new complex on Hanshaw Road in the town of Dryden, northeast of Ithaca.
WHCU has a three-and-a-half-hour local news and interview based morning show each weekday called the Morning Newswatch. It also has a one-hour local news show on weekday evenings, called Evening Newswatch. WHCU is an affiliate of CBS Radio News and carries top of the hour news coverage, as well as one-minute bottom-of-the-hour news updates during its live, local programming. It is also the flagship of Cornell University football, hockey and men's lacrosse broadcasts.
In March 2010, WHCU returned to the FM airwaves when its sister station WQNY launched News/Talk 870 on its HD3 channel. WHCU had been on a former WYXL translator (first at 95.5, then briefly at 95.9) before Saga turned off the translator, accommodating the introduction of WFIZ into the market. The use of WQNY-HD3 overcomes the challenges of 870's night time pattern, especially outside of Tompkins County.
In August 2010, WHCU returned to analog FM broadcasting with the reintroduction of a translator at 95.9 FM. W240CB is a 250-watt translator located on Ithaca's South Hill, and it is licensed to rebroadcast WQNY. As with Hits 103.3 and 98.7 the Vine, the company uses the translator to rebroadcast the aforementioned HD3 signal.
On August 30, 2018, WHCU switched its translator from W240CB 95.9 (and WQNY-HD3, which began stunting towards a new format at this time) to W249DW 97.7.
Programming and hosts
Since 2005, WHCU has been a station with conservative hosts. With the exception of the Morning Newswatch, Evening Newswatch and Saturday Morning Newswatch, the programs are nationally syndicated, with Premiere Networks hosts Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, "Coast to Coast AM with George Noory" and "This Morning, America's First News with Gordon Deal." On weekday evenings, WHCU carries Westwood One hosts Mark Levin and John Batchelor. Laura Ingraham airs in late mornings. Weekend programming includes "news you can use" self-help programming along with some news and politics. WHCU's Morning Newswatch provides local news, sports, weather and interviews about local politics and other news items each weekday from 5:30 to 9 am. The Saturday Morning Newswatch is broadcast on WHCU from 7 to 10 am.
On April 18, 2018, the morning show was canceled and its host permanently laid off. The syndicated This Morning: America's First News now airs in the time slot.
- "WHCU Moves As Saga Stunts With X Ambassadors In Ithaca". RadioInsight. 2018-08-30. Retrieved 2018-09-02.
- "Peabody Awards for '46 Announced" (PDF). Broadcasting. April 21, 1947. Retrieved 26 September 2014.