|City||Durham, North Carolina|
|Broadcast area||Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill|
Research Triangle Park
|Branding||620 The Ticket|
|Power||1,500 watts days|
41 watts nights
|Callsign meaning||W-Durham, North Carolina (city of license)|
CBS Sports Radio
|Owner||Capitol Broadcasting Company|
|Sister stations||WCLY, WCMC-FM, WRAL, WRAL-TV, WRAZ|
WDNC is a sports talk radio station licensed to Durham, North Carolina but based in Raleigh, North Carolina with a frequency of 620 AM. Owned and operated by Capitol Broadcasting Company as part of a cluster with NBC affiliate WRAL-TV, Fox affiliate WRAZ, and sister radio stations WCLY, WCMC-FM and WRAL, the station's studios are in Raleigh, and the transmitter site is in Durham. WDNC is branded 620 the Ticket and is affiliated with the CBS Sports Radio and ESPN Radio networks. In addition, WDNC is the flagship station for the Duke Blue Devils and is the local affiliate of the Charlotte Hornets.
Durham's first radio station went on the air in February 1934, when then-Mayor W.F. Carr and several investors saw the need for a radio station in what was then the state's 3rd-largest city. They bought Wilmington-based 1370 WRAM (formerly WRBT) and moved its license and equipment to studios in Durham atop the Washington Duke Hotel downtown at the corner of Corcoran and Chapel Hill Streets (later known as the Carolina and the Jack Tar Hotel; the structure was imploded in 1975). The newly relocated station signed on with 100 watts at 1500 AM as CBS affiliate WDNC. In 1936, WDNC was purchased by the Herald-Sun Newspapers, publishers of the Durham Morning Herald and The Durham Sun. At this time, the station's studios were moved into the Herald-Sun's building at 138 East Chapel Hill Street, literally next door to the Washington Duke Hotel. In 1938, WDNC increased its power from 100 to 250 watts.
The NARBA frequency realignment of 1941 saw the station relocate to 1490 AM. During this time, their antenna was located near present-day Forest Hills Park on South Street. WDNC's last broadcast from this site came on February 28, 1948. On the next day, which was Leap Day, WDNC abandoned its 1490 dial position and 250-watt signal for a new three-tower directional array on Shocoree Drive in western Durham which operated with 5,000 watts daytime and 1,000 watts nighttime at a new frequency on the other end of the dial, 620 AM. Leap Day 1948 turned out to be a very eventful day in Durham broadcasting history: As WDNC fired up their new, more powerful plant, they also signed on WDNC-FM, at 105.1 MHz. Making the day even more memorable was that WDNC's old 1490 dial position was immediately occupied by a new station, WSSB (now WDUR).
In 1952, WDNC's parent company, the Herald-Sun Newspapers, applied to build a TV station in Durham on the city's newly allotted VHF channel 11. The owners of cross-town competitor WTIK had also applied for channel 11. The two parties later joined their efforts under the banner "Durham Broadcasting Enterprises" and signed on WTVD, channel 11 on September 2, 1954. In 1957, Durham Broadcasting sold WTVD to Albany, NY-based Capital Cities Broadcasting in 1957 (the same Capital Cities which bought the ABC TV network in the mid-1980s).
WDNC remained a CBS affiliate and the home of big band and popular standards until 1991, when their focus shifted towards more talk-based programming. In 1992, WDNC and its FM sister station, by now known as WDCG "G-105", relocated to Park Forty Plaza, just off Interstate 40 along NC Highway 55 in southeastern Durham, as the newspaper abandoned their downtown building for a new facility at 2828 Pickett Road in southwestern Durham. Shortly thereafter, the newspaper, wanting to focus more on its publishing divisions, put the two radio properties on the market. It was around this time that radio ownership rules were being relaxed.
WDCG was sold in 1993, but there were no takers for WDNC. In 1994, the company entered into a local marketing agreement with Capitol Broadcasting Company (CBC), which allowed the Raleigh-based company control over WDNC's sales, marketing and programming with an option to buy. Capitol, already in the process of moving their minor league baseball team, the Durham Bulls, into the new Durham Bulls Athletic Park being built by the city, announced plans to move WDNC into the ballpark upon its completion in 1995. In the meantime, the station would operate from the basement of the new Herald-Sun building. Capitol redubbed the station the "Smart Choice for News and Sports", and, in late 1995, implemented an all-news format under the handle, "The News Station", using the Associated Press' all-news network supplemented with reports from the WRAL-TV newsroom. After three years, the agreement proved non-profitable for CBC. In 1997, Curtis Media Group took over the LMA from Capitol, replacing the news-centered schedule with more syndicated talk shows and paid programming until it bought the WDNC license from the Herald-Sun in 2000.
In November 2002, WDNC began a simulcast with Raleigh station WDNZ (now WPLW), 570 AM. That arrangement lasted until November 1, 2005, when WDNC entered into yet another LMA, this time with McClatchey Broadcasting, then-owner of WRBZ "850 the Buzz", a more locally oriented sports talk station. The station flipped to sports talk as "620 The Bull".
From July 2006 to June 2007, WDNC was home to an afternoon talk show featuring former ECU football head coach Steve Logan, before moving on to take the offensive coordinator position at Boston College.
Late in 2008, Don Imus returned to the Triangle for the first time since the incident involving the Rutgers women's basketball team. Imus replaced Mike and Mike in the Morning as WDNC de-emphasized ESPN programming.
On August 10, 2009, Curtis Media (which still owned the station) sold WDNC and sister station WCLY to Capitol Broadcasting Company, in exchange for the North Carolina News Network. The move enables Capitol to concentrate its sports programming across three channels, with WDNC and WCMC-FM receiving some carry-over programming from WRBZ (which Curtis Media received from McClatchey Broadcasting), while WCLY will carry Spanish-language sports programming from ESPN Deportes. WDNC was expected to change its handle to 620 the Buzz beginning in September 2009, but the official changeover happened on November 2 with Adam Gold and Joe Ovies transferring their morning show over from WRBZ.
In April 2014, WDNC signed on a translator at 99.3 FM in Morrisville, serving Raleigh. In October, it added another translator at 96.5 FM in Durham. They serve mainly to fill in the gaps in the main signal.
On April 25, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission issued a Construction Permit for Capitol Broadcasting to move WDNC's transmitter from the station's long-time West Durham location on Shocorree Drive to a diplex arrangement with WDUR 1490 AM, at the latter's transmitter site on Nixon Street in southeastern Durham. This also authorized WDNC to reduce its 5,000 watt daytime power to 1,500 watts non-directional, and its 1,000 watt nighttime power to 41 watts non-directional. By late June 2017, WDNC had built out the construction permit and was broadcasting from its new site. The three towers at its former Shoccoree Drive transmitter site were removed in late October/early November 2017.
On May 1, 2018, WDNC rebranded from "The Buzz" (which continues on WCMC-HD2 and the 96.5 and 99.3 translators) to "The Ticket" (format moved from WCLY 1550 AM Raleigh, which flipped to adult album alternative).
WDNC has a storied history developing personalities. Many of these on-air figures become long-time Raleigh-Durham favorites, and others moved to bigger markets. Below are some of a few.