After World War II, incoming students to North Central College included a number of returning war veterans, many of whom had experience as service radio technicians during the war. As a result of the hard work and efforts of eight student technicians, the campus radio club was born, using ham radio.
In 1949, according to The Chronicle, “with a transmitter from spare parts, and control room and studio facilities located in the newly restored fourth floor of Old Main, these students put WNCC (as it was then called) on the air.” At the time, the campus radio station transmitted at 10 watts of power compared to the 50,000 watts by major radio stations. WNCC moved to carrier current in the 1950s, broadcasting an AM signal into residence halls through telephone lines.
Starting as a small club on campus, the radio station quickly began broadcasting 24 hours per week and joined the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS), the representative for college stations to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
After the call letters changed to WNOC in 1954, the station was broadcast for the campus only until it applied successfully to the FCC for a license to operate on the FM frequency in order to “enlarge, implement, and improve the facilities of the college for the teaching of radio broadcasting, public speaking, music and drama.” On July 1, 1968, the station was given a license to broadcast at 89.1 FM and adopted the WONC call letters. The station has since been known as “the voice of Naperville.”
Other milestones included a move in 1997 from Old Main to Oliver Hall at 232 E. Chicago Ave., with three studios, a music library, newsroom and offices. In 1998, WONC started broadcasting 24 hours a day and, in 2000, at wonc.org worldwide using Real Audio and MP3 on the Web.
Since its establishment, WONC student broadcasters have won numerous awards, including first-place Silver Dome Awards in the commercial and collegiate markets and 20 Marconi College radio awards. No other college radio station has won more Marconis than WONC.