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|Broadcast area||Columbus, Ohio|
|Slogan||Columbus' Hit Music Station and #1 for New Music!|
|Frequency||97.9 MHz (also on HD Radio)|
|First air date||July 1961 (as WRFD-FM)|
|Format||Commercial : Top 40 (CHR)|
|Former callsigns||WRFD-FM (1961-1967)|
(Citicasters Licenses, Inc.)
The station has had a hit music format since the early 1970s, making it one of the oldest continuously airing Top 40 stations still in the format. WNCI was named the Top 40 Station of the Year in 2005, 2006 and 2007 for market size 26 to 100 at the national Radio & Records convention.
The broadcast tower for the station is still located on top of the skyscraper known as One Nationwide Plaza in Columbus, along with the transmitters for sister station WXZX; the studios are located on the city's westside. The station broadcasts with a power of 175,000 watts, which is 3.5 times what would normally be permitted. The station is permitted to do so because it was operating with a 175,000 watt power output before current Federal Communications Commission regulations were enacted. There are only 6 FM stations in the United States that operate with more power.
The station is home to the popular "WNCI Morning Zoo" featuring Dave Kaelin, Jimmy Jam  and Kelsey Webb. The Morning Zoo has been airing for over 20 years and has had many members in the past, such as current KDWB host Dave Ryan, Tom Kelly, John Cline, Matt Harris, Kim Zandy, Shawn Ireland, Alaina Sheer, and Medha Gandhi.
The WNCI Morning Zoo is the most popular morning show in Ohio. The show is available for syndication to other stations as "Dave and Jimmy" and airs on WLKT, WYHT, WXZQ, KXNC, WHMJ, WXXO, WROM, WKEI AND WTBO.
The Morning Zoo is followed by:
- "On-Air With Ryan Seacrest" from 10 AM to 2 PM
- WNCI veteran Chris Davis from 2 PM to 7 PM
- Maxwell 7PM - 12AM
- Matt Ryan 12AM-6AM
WNCI started broadcasting with a classical music format in July 1961 as WRFD-FM, sharing studios with AM sibling WRFD, east of Powell, Ohio. In early 1967, a request for a change in call letters from WRFD-FM to WNCI-FM was requested and subsequently granted. The call letter changed marked a change in programming from primarily classical music. In mid 1968, WNCI began programming CBS supplied "Young Sound" format. In 1972, WNCI moved to the sixth floor of the new Scot's Inn, later the Carousel Inn, at 4900 Sinclair Road. Since that time, the studios of WNCI have been relocated to various places in the Columbus area, including the Nationwide Building, The Continent, Broadcast Lake (a former quarry overlooked by several Clear Channel radio studios and the television studios of WSYX), and their current location at 2323 West Fifth Avenue.
WNCI began its Top 40 programming in 1970, although the station also broadcast an evening "progressive rock" album-based program beginning in the fall of 1969. From 1979 to 1982, the station attempted a full-service adult contemporary music format to compete with WTVN, adding a 5-person news staff. Its slogan at the time was "The Best Is At The Center," playing on its location on the FM dial. The format was abandoned in 1982 and the station returned to the Top 40 format.
In June 1993, WNCI again morphed into an AC-leaning station to compete with rival Sunny 95 WSNY. This lasted for nearly a year before they moved back into a CHR/Pop formatted-direction. As of 2010, WNCI currently competes with WCKX, who shifted from Mainstream Urban to Rhythmic Top 40, since WNCI tends to be more mainstream, conservative, and still at times, leans slightly towards Hot AC, while WCKX, who targets the younger demos that WNCI also goes after, concentrates on mostly hit-driven R&B/Hip-Hop and Rhythmic Pop product that WNCI doesn't add much of. WNCI's popularity has meant that iHeartMedia has had no need to convert the station to its KISS-FM branding, although its current logo features the logo style of most KISS-FM stations.
WNCI is currently owned by iHeartMedia, Inc.. Previously, the station was owned by Jacor Communications Incorporated. Jacor acquired the assets of Nationwide Communications in 1997 for $620 million. WNCI was once the flagship station for the 17 radio station group Nationwide Communications, a division of the Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company (where its call letters derive). Nationwide continues to be a broad advertiser with the station.
Although WRFD is still broadcasting, it no longer has any affiliation with WNCI.
- Other stations applaud WIXX in national radio judging[dead link]; Warren Gerds; November 19, 2007 Green Bay Press-Gazette; Retrieved November 19, 2007
- This claim has been substantiated by consumer research group Arbitron, but Arbitron Radio Service will not permit the information to be reprinted.
- Ross, Sean (August 5, 2010). "Fresh Listen: WNCI Columbus, Ohio". Radio-Info.com.