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City of license Columbus, Ohio
Broadcast area Columbus, Ohio
Branding 97.9 WNCI
Slogan Columbus' New 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 Top 40 (CHR)
ERP 175,000 watts
HAAT 171 meters
Class B
Facility ID 47741
Transmitter coordinates
Callsign meaning Nationwide
Former callsigns WRFD-FM (1961-1967)
Owner iHeartMedia, Inc.
(Citicasters Licenses, Inc.)
Webcast Listen Live!

WNCI (97.9 FM) is a radio station in Columbus, Ohio. Until summer 2014, the station's official logo was WNCI 97.9 in a purple oval. The logo is now more modern with simple text. WNCI primarily plays Top 40/CHR music, and is consistently one of the top-rated stations in not only Central Ohio, but the entire country by Arbitron.

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.[1]

The broadcast tower for the station is still located atop 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.


  • Programming 1
  • History 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


The station is home to the popular "WNCI Morning Zoo" featuring Dave Kaelin, Jimmy "Jam" Shaheen [2] news anchor Kelsey Webb, and executive producer Medha Gandhi. 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, and Alaina Sheer. The current cast has been together for almost 7 years, and is the first run featuring a 4-man full-time show with 2 males and 2 females. Both ladies have made the "50 hottest females in radio" list multiple times.

Dave Kaelin: Kaelin hails from Pittsburgh, PA., and is a married father of three. He's known as the cat man, since his family is always taking in stray animals. He smokes like a chimney, and he's the common sense, reason, and deep-voice of the show. Dave is the backbone and time-keeper. His wife keeps him in line, and he never gets laid.

Jimmy "Jam" is from Delaware, Ohio. He was born and raised there and has the attitude to match. He's the opinionated jerk of the show and is always putting down women. He is divorced, of course, and lives the life of a bachelor, which makes him more pathetic since he's a nearly 50-year-old creeper.[3] He is not afraid to state what's on his mind, even if it's unpopular. He enjoys annoying his coworkers. Food is his best friend, and Gandhi is his enemy.

Medha Gandhi is from Miami, Florida, and is the young, trendy, fun girl. She's the Executive Producer, always has an ear to the street, and knows everything about everything. They call her the walking, talking Google. She is of Indian descent, and is the great granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, as well as the youngest and smartest. Gandhi creates most of the parodies and writes bits for the show. Her stand-out laughter and quick wit are an excellent addition. She is the darling.

Kelsey Webb is a Youngstown native. She was recently married to her long-time love, and is the naive deer of the show. She is blonde and always being picked on by the rest. She is responsible for news, and often gets put into bad situations because of Jimmy.

They also have a continuous line of new interns from various colleges that help the on air personalities. The Morning Zoo is the most popular morning show in Ohio.[4] The show is available for syndication to other stations as "Dave and Jimmy" and airs on WLKT and WYHT.

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
  • JoJo Wright 12AM-2AM
  • Sisanie 2AM-5AM [5]


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 early 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,[6] 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 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. In fact, the call letters NCI stand for Nationwide Communications Inc. Although owned by iHeartMedia, Inc., they integrate the Nationwide Insurance "Life Comes At You Fast" slogan in the station IDs in exchange for financial compensation (advertising).

Throughout much of its history, WNCI was known as Stereo 98.

Although WRFD is still broadcasting, it no longer has any affiliation with WNCI.


  1. ^ Other stations applaud WIXX in national radio judging; Warren Gerds; November 19, 2007 Green Bay Press-Gazette; Retrieved November 19, 2007
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ This claim has been substantiated by consumer research group Arbitron, but Arbitron Radio Service will not permit the information to be reprinted.
  5. ^ [2] Current On-Air line up
  6. ^ Ross, Sean (August 5, 2010). "Fresh Listen: WNCI Columbus, Ohio". 

External links

  • WNCI official website
  • Query the FCC's FM station database for WNCI
  • Radio-Locator information on WNCI
  • Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WNCI
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