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City Spindale, North Carolina
Broadcast area Western North Carolina
Charlotte, North Carolina
Greenville, South Carolina
Branding WNCW 88.7
Slogan Listener-Powered Radio
Frequency 88.7 MHz
Translator(s) See § Translators
Repeater(s) See § Simulcast
First air date October 13, 1989
Format Adult Album Alternative
ERP 17,500 Watts
HAAT 923 meters (3,028 ft)
Class C
Facility ID 29262
Transmitter coordinates 35°44′06″N 82°17′11″W / 35.73500°N 82.28639°W / 35.73500; -82.28639
Callsign meaning Western North Carolina Window[1]
Affiliations National Public Radio & American Public Radio
Owner Isothermal Community College
Webcast Listen Live
Website wncw.org

WNCW (88.7 FM) is a non-commercial public radio station licensed to Isothermal Community College in Spindale, North Carolina. The station broadcasts a varied format including folk, blues, jazz, reggae, Celtic, world, rock, bluegrass, indie, and news.

The station's broadcast area covers most of western North Carolina from a tower on Clingman's Peak near Mount Mitchell.[2] The tower's elevation is 6,634 feet (2,022 m) above sea level. WNCW programming is also available on WSIF, Wilkesboro, North Carolina, and on four translators. WNCW has at least secondary coverage in portions of North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Virginia.

The station has a recording facility, Studio B, where a range of musical artists perform and are interviewed for the station's regular live programs.[3] Selected recordings are compiled into annual "Crowd Around The Mic" albums which are only available to people who pledge support to the station,[4] while some video recordings of the sessions are posted on YouTube.[5]


In 1986, Isothermal Community College received support of the State of NC and the federal government to begin the process of planning and starting a public radio station for Western North Carolina along with the communities it would be serving.

On October 13, 1989, WNCW signed on from a tower on Clingman's Peak near Mount Mitchell at 6 A.M. with Morning Edition, starting with the theme music from B.J. Leiderman. Station manager Burr Beard described the audience as "everyone". Crossroads aired from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. weekdays, with songs from 6000 LPs and "hundreds of compact discs", and started with a song from the Tracy Chapman album Crossroads. Other programming included National Public Radio and American Public Radio.[1] The earliest description of WNCW's original programming said that the station's weekday program was Crossroads, featuring a broad range of music genres, similar to today; in the evenings, listeners could hear classic radio dramas like The Lone Ranger and Sherlock Holmes followed by classical music.

In 1992, the Alternative Radio Coalition began. A major goal of the 1600-member group was to raise $15,000 for a translator that would reach Charlotte listeners.[6] Meanwhile, WNCW added a translator at 97.3 in Greenville, SC in 1993 and had plans for one in Boone, North Carolina by 1995.[7] The Charlotte translator finally signed on at 100.7 FM across the street from Cotswold Mall in May 1994.[8]

WNCW produced its first Crowd Around the Mic in 1997. In 1999, WNCW began streaming programming on the Internet.

In 2002, WNCW wanted to improve its signal in Charlotte, which would include a move to 100.3 FM and relocating to the WFAE tower. One reason for the change: WABZ (100.9 FM) planned to move to the Charlotte area from Albemarle, North Carolina, and this would significantly impact the 100.7 frequency.[9] The move to 100.3 was completed late in 2004.[10]

Until 2003, WNCW operated a translator at 96.7 FM in Knoxville, Tennessee.[11] The station currently has an application for a new translator in Knoxville.

In 2009, Isothermal Community College acquired the license of WSIF, Wilkesboro, North Carolina, formerly operated by Wilkes Community College.[12] WSIF began simulcasting WNCW programming in January, 2010.


One full-power station is licensed to simulcast the programming of WNCW:

Call sign Frequency City of license Facility ID ERP
m (ft)
Class Transmitter coordinates
WSIF 90.9 FM Wilkesboro, North Carolina 72460 1,000 −52 m (−171 ft) A 36°08′12.5″N 81°11′01.3″W / 36.136806°N 81.183694°W / 36.136806; -81.183694 (WSIF)


WNCW programming is broadcast on the following translators:

Broadcast translators of WNCW
Call sign Frequency
City of license ERP
m (ft)
Class FCC info
W225AA 92.9 Boone, North Carolina 10 407 m (1,335 ft) D FCC
W247AB 97.3 Greenville, South Carolina 19 78 m (256 ft) D FCC

WNCW has construction permits for the following translators:

Call sign Frequency
City of license ERP
m (ft)
Class FCC info
W251BR 98.1 Knoxville, Tennessee 10 152.8 m (501 ft) D FCC
W268BV 101.5 Charlotte, North Carolina 19 91.7 m (301 ft) D FCC
W271CB 102.1 Asheville, North Carolina 5 42.3 m (139 ft) D FCC


  1. ^ a b "Today in Asheville history: WNCW on the air". Asheville Citizen-Times. October 13, 2015. Retrieved October 13, 2015. 
  2. ^ Mike Benzie, "WNCW trying to clear air", Asheville Citizen-Times, April 1, 2003
  3. ^ "Studio B". Retrieved February 19, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Crowd Around the Mic". Retrieved February 19, 2014. 
  5. ^ "WNCW videos". Retrieved February 19, 2014. 
  6. ^ Tim Funk, "Coalition's Goal: Alternative Radio in Charlotte, Via Spindale," The Charlotte Observer, February 4, 1993, p. 1E.
  7. ^ Dennis Romero, "A Breath of Fresh Airwaves," The Charlotte Observer, February 8, 1994, p. 1E.
  8. ^ Tim Funk, "Turn on WNCW and Tune in to Surprises," The Charlotte Observer, May 17, 1994, p. 1E.
  9. ^ Mark Washburn, "WNCW Fans Make Their Voices Heard," The Charlotte Observer, June 30, 2002, p. 1H.
  10. ^ Mark Washburn, "WNCW Back on Radio Dial: New Charlotte-Area Frequency Is 100.3 FM," The Charlotte Observer, December 4, 2004, p. 7E.
  11. ^ WNCW's Return: Who'll Run It?" Metro Pulse, 31 July 2003. Accessed at the Internet Archive, 2 October 2015.
  12. ^ "WNCW obtains broadcast license of WSIF in Wilkes County, will begin broadcasting its programming there this week". Retrieved 2014-08-26. 

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