Since its debut in August 1995, WNCU, 90.7 FM, licensed to North Carolina Central University, has consistently fulfilled its mission to provide quality culturally appropriate progr
Since its debut in August 1995, WNCU, 90.7 FM, licensed to North Carolina Central University, has consistently fulfilled its mission to provide quality culturally appropriate programming to public radio listeners in the Triangle area. The format of this listener supported public radio station entertains the jazz aficionado, educates the novice jazz listener and disseminates news and information relative to the community-at-large. WNCU was the vision of Donald Baker, the first general manager of this public radio station. Even as a student at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) years ago, Donald floated the idea to university administrators. In 1986, North Carolina Central University’s new chancellor, Dr. Tyronza Richmond also envisioned a radio station on the campus. Their interest and motivation to start a campus radio station was not shared alone, NCCU professors Dr. Donell Lewis and Patsy Perry collaborated and subsequently applied for a Title III grant and submitted a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) application requesting a broadcast facility construction permit on behalf of the University. Donald Baker was hired to develop the new radio station, but the application process hit a snag not long after his coming on board. In hopes of moving the application forward, Baker and Lewis, solicited the help of a North Carolina Congressional delegation, including The Honorable Senator Terry Sanford, Representative David Price, Representative Mel Watt, and Representative Eva Clayton but they were all told that no FM frequencies were available at the time. It was July 1990 and it appeared that NCCU was going to be thwarted in their efforts to gain access to the airwaves. Since of the distinguished congress-people were able to shake loose a frequency from the FCC, Dr. Lewis and Mr. Baker made a, yet fruitful visit to the Senior Senator from North Carolina, The Honorable Jesse Helms. After explaining the University’s dilemma to the Senator, and after assuring him that the WCPE signal in Wake Forrest, NC could be protected from interference from the WNCU signal, he rallied to the cause. First, getting Lewis and Baker an audience with the Chairman of the FCC, secondly, arguing NCCU’s case before the FCC, and finally getting the United States Navy to allow the university to salvage the call letters (WNCU) of a decommissioned US Navy carrier. With Senator Helms’ help, the reality of a radio station, a more-than twenty-year dream for the University, was finally coming to fruition. Within six weeks of their first contact with Senator Helms, Chancellor Richmond was contacted and informed that barring any obstacles, and/or challenges to the license, the University would be allowed to commence broadcasting on October 1, 1991. Suddenly, out of the blue the application was challenged! A religious organization from Ocala, Florida had applied for the same frequency and the entire process ground to a halt for two more years. But when new chancellor, Julius Chambers took office, the process of getting WNCU back on track, was a reinvigorated effort and began to gain traction. The university funded the initial start up, equipment was purchased, and the construction of the studio got under way. By 1994 Triangle-area newspapers were catching wind that something exciting was about to emanate from NCCU. The excitement continued to build until; finally, the station tested its signal in July 1995. Today, WNCU continues to provide a culturally diverse programming lineup. In April 2001 new general manager Edith Thorpe came on board with goals that include the self-sufficiency of the station, strengthening the station’s relationship with students enrolled in media courses at the University and establishing strong relationships with the community it serves. The WNCU professional staff has consisted of very talented and dedicated individual who have included: Lackisha Sykes, Business Manager/Assistant General Manager, B. H. Hudson, Music Director/Asst. Program Director, Uchenna Bulliner, Development Director, Jim Davis, Engineer, Kimberley Pierce Cartwright, News and Public Affairs Director, Kristy Caldwell, Office Manager, Lolethia Underdue, Aasim Inshirah, Public affairs producer, Ken Grady, Jazz host and newscaster, Chantal Winston, Webmaster, Judy Womack, Talk show host, Nicole Thompson, Larry Thomas, Bobby Allen, Truitt O’Neal, Chris Whitfield, Rony Camille, Phyllis Houston Washington, Sharon Winstead, Raechel Weaver, Eric White, Gerard Farrow, Tiphani Mallette, Theresa Whitley, Nchechi Ukgeweki, Guy Seaberg, Pamela Tolson, Ivory Lawson. The community volunteers at WNCU have been numerous and dedicated. They include members of our community who are loyal to the mission of public radio and some have give more than a decade of their time to WNCU. They are: Tracey Barley, Howard Burchette, James Davis, Lois Deloatch, Ed Fulbright, Walter ‘Country Boy’? Hatcher, Irv Joyner, Patricia Murray, Bouna Ndiaye, Hanif Omar, Carolyn Ryals, Steve Satterfield, Steve Taxman, Phillip Bro Rabb Bell III, Mike Soloman, Jay Bell, Taz Blackley, Jonas Brown, Matthew ‘Mattio’? Furtick, Soleir Schaefer Gordon, Mark Lee, Jon Scott Williams, Mike Wilson, Cayenne Pepper, Fran Scarver, Claudia Ruiz, Eduardo Perez, Brianna Hunt, Natalie Bullock Brown, Ed Clark, Kerra Burton. During Thorpe’s tenure, a partnership with the city was established and a 100% Spanish-speaking program entitled Cita Dominical was produced weekly by News & Public Affairs Director Kimberley Pierce. During this period, WNCU’s revenue streams have drastically increased and listenership and financial support has been on a constant rise. As a member of the African American Public Radio Consortium, and through Thorpe’s association with National Public Radio, The Tavis Smiley Show was conceptualized and developed along with Loretta Rucker, public radio consultant, and other public radio station general managers. Currently WNCU airs the NPR collaborative programs, News and Notes and Tell Me More. As WNCU observes twelve years of commercial free broadcasting, the triangle area celebrates the stations’ rich programming diversity in music, news and information. WNCU is committed to serving in the public’s interest, convenience and necessity by providing a diverse cultural music line-up, local news and public affairs programs and fostering relationships with local agencies and organizations throughout Durham and surrounding counties.