“There is a great feeling of unity at KNC – the morale is really high, which is good because nobody’s up there for the money. Most of the jocks love the music, and that’s one reason why we’re so successful.”Chrystal Bartlett, WKNC Promotions Director, as published in the Sept. 23, 1983 Technician
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WKNC increased its signal strength again in 1984, from 1,000 to 3,000 watts. The station’s tower atop D.H. Hill Library was also replaced with a slightly taller one, placing it about 235 feet above ground level. The station could now be heard a good 40 miles outside of Raleigh.30 With a growing staff, audience, and power output – as well as improvements in format – WKNC became recognized as one of the top college radio stations in the country. “For the first time WKNC-FM … began to compete seriously within the Raleigh listening area,” read the 1982 Agromeck.31 Urban music programming expanded in 1985, adding an additional 24 hours each week and taking on the name Magic 88. Daytime hours were primarily programmed as Album Oriented Rock.32 Other programming included new wave music on Nightwave and heavy metal on Chainsaw Rock.
Entering 1991 and to celebrate its 25th Anniversary as an FM station, WKNC moved into a new studio in the Student Center Annex, later named the Witherspoon Student Center. On Saturday, March 9, 1991 WKNC 88.1 FM signed on the air from its new facilities. In November 1992, around 65 students staged a sit in at the WKNC studios to protest for more hours for urban music programming.33 The 95-minute sit-in eventually resulted in an earlier start time for Magic 88 (9 p.m. instead of 10 p.m.), the addition of a Sunday evening urban block and the creation of a two-hour gospel program on Sunday mornings.34 The urban music format was also renamed Underground.
In 1994, WKNC attempted to increase its power from 3,000 to 25,000 watts. At the same time, three other stations attempted to increase their power which created confusion due to signal interference.
WKNC had been slowly combating its reputation as a heavy metal station for years, and in 1998 moved to a daytime format mixing hard rock with alternative after a spring 1998 poll of NC State students showed an equal affinity for both genres.35 In summer 1999, WKNC was rebranded as an alternative rock station. Chainsaw Rock continued to air on Friday nights, and Afterhours and Underground played Monday through Thursdays beginning at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. respectively.36
30. Major, Michelle. (1984, Feb. 1). “WKNC installs improved transmission tower.” Technician.
31. Agromeck (1982).
32. Shell, Jim. (1985, June 5). “WKNC changes format.” Technician.
33. Drew, Jeff. (1992, Nov. 18). “Students sit in at WKNC.” Technician.
34. Blanton, Dave. (1993, Feb. 1). “Reising reveals new schedule to WKNC.” Technician.
35. Watkins, Alan. (1998, April 22). “Campus station changes format.” Technician.
36. Miano, Sarah. E. (1999, Aug. 25). “A new sound.” Technician.