The station's first logo with the FM simulcast
|Branding||"NewsTalk 1400 and 104.9FM WINC"|
|Slogan||"First in Winchester, First in News"|
|Frequency||1400 AM kHz|
|First air date||June 26, 1941|
|Power||1,000 Watts day and night|
|Owner||Centennial Broadcasting |
(Centennial Licensing II, LLC)
|Sister stations||WINC-FM, WXBN, WZFC|
WINC (1400 AM) is a broadcast radio station licensed to Winchester, Virginia, United States. The station carries a news, talk, and sports format. WINC serves Winchester along with Frederick and Clarke counties in Virginia.
Launched on June 26, 1941, by Richard Field Lewis, Jr., WINC was Winchester's first radio station. It remained in the hands of the Lewis family until sold to North Carolina-based Centennial Broadcasting in 2007. The station's current format, established in 1996, consists mostly of conservative talk programs and top-of-the-hour news from Fox News Radio. Sports programming from Virginia Tech is also broadcast. Prior formats heard on WINC include middle of the road music, adult contemporary, and classic hits.
Several milestones have occurred during the station's 75 years of history. WINC was the station on which country music singer Patsy Cline made her debut in 1948, when Cline asked the leader of a "hillbilly band" for a chance to perform with them on air. In the late 1950s, the station's chief engineer, Philip Whitney, designed a CONELRAD alarm device for FM stations to warn listeners in the event of an enemy attack during the Cold War. Whitney also created many of the remote control systems used by radio stations. He was awarded for his work by the National Association of Broadcasters in 1970. WINC had difficulty renewing its license in the early 1970s, as it was airing 22 minutes of commercials per hour—in excess of what the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) permitted. The station encountered further trouble in 1988 when a local prosecutor called one of its promotions an "illegal cash lottery"; a judge disagreed. In that same year, the news department at WINC received an Associated Press Broadcasters Association national award for "Best Radio Spot News".
Richard Field Lewis, Jr. was a graduate of the College of Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. He founded Fredericksburg, Virginia-based radio station WFVA in 1939. Before that, he had worked at KFXM in San Bernardino, California, as chief engineer. Lewis filed the initial application for a new station in Winchester, Virginia, with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) during the week of November 10, 1940. He applied to have WINC broadcast on AM 1370 at 250 watts, and the application was approved on February 4, 1941. In early March 1941, the FCC assigned the WINC call sign, derived from the first four letters in Winchester. In June 1941, WINC announced it would join the NBC Blue Network the following month.
Grant Pollock, 
At 6:57am, on June 26, 1941, WINC began broadcasting for the first time, becoming Winchester's first radio station. Instead of the frequency of AM 1370 applied for, WINC launched on AM 1400. At launch, the station broadcast at 250 watts day and night. Two weeks later, on July 13, Virginia Senator Harry F. Byrd and Governor James Hubert Price attended the dedication of the station. The first announcer on WINC was Grant Pollock, who had been hired as the station's commercial sales manager. Pollock came to Winchester from NBC Radio in Los Angeles. At the time of WINC's launch, Winchester had a population of 12,095, with only 2,968 radios.
Throughout the station's existence, WINC's studios have been located at 520 North Pleasant Valley Road in Winchester. The address at launch was 520 Kerr Street, later incorporated into Pleasant Valley Road.
Less than six months after the station's first broadcast, WINC carried live descriptions of the attack on Pearl Harbor and President Roosevelt's "Infamy Speech" the following day. With the United States entry to World War II, WINC participated in the war effort on the air and at its studios. The City of Winchester erected an Aircraft Warning Service station, manned by volunteers, beside the WINC facility. The station aired an hour-long special program called "Virginia Schools at War Mobilization" on February 22, 1943. The program involved approximately 618,000 schoolchildren and teachers from around the state, war-savings staff, and state and civic dignitaries. The special, broadcast live from Mount Vernon, was carried on 13 other Virginia stations and on WWDC in Washington, D.C. WINC participated in another wartime broadcast, this one in late January 1944, to encourage the public to buy War Bonds. A total of $150,525 in bonds were sold during the two-hour program, broadcast on 13 stations in Virginia and one in Washington, D.C.
On June 15, 1945, the NBC Blue Network formally changed its name to the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). WINC remained an affiliate of the renamed network. In the same year, C. Leslie Golliday was hired as the station's production manager. Golliday also built and launched two stations of his own: WEPM in Martinsburg, West Virginia, in 1946 and WCLG in Morgantown, West Virginia, in 1954.
The station began carrying Standard Oil's "Your Esso Weather Reporter" spots on April 22, 1946. The Esso programs included the "latest weather prediction and [a] brief commercial". WINC began carrying programming from the Keystone Broadcasting System (KBS) and Lang–Worth Feature Programs in 1946 and 1948 respectively. Both Keystone and Lang-Worth were electrical transcription networks. Programming from Lang-Worth was removed from the station's schedule in 1951, while Keystone programming remained until 1960. Richard F. Lewis, Jr. launched WINC-FM, sister station to WINC, on November 18, 1946.
A January 1947 contest on WINC was responsible for knocking out the entire telephone system for the city of Winchester. Mark Sheeler, a disc jockey at WINC, gave a "wolf whistle" as the signal for Winchester area "housewives" to call the studio. The first one to reach him would win "a free pair of nylon hose and a $10 handbag". The station received around 4,000 simultaneous phone calls; the first call to get through was from the telephone company. Sheeler was informed that his contest was jamming local phone lines. He quickly made an on-air announcement calling off the contest.
On August 8, 1947, WINC applied to move from 1400 to 950 AM. In the same application, the station requested an increase in the station's power to 1,000 watts during the day and 500 watts at night. More than two years later, the application was dismissed and WINC remained at its original frequency and power.
Fourteen-year-old country music singer Virginia "Ginny" Hensley, who later became Patsy Cline, began her career by making her broadcast debut on WINC in 1948. Hensley asked "Joltin'" Jim McCoy, the leader of a "hillbilly band" called "The Melody Playboys", about to perform on the station, for a chance to sing with them. She told the band leader, "If you just give me a chance to sing with you, I'll never ask for pay." Cline continued to perform regularly on Saturday mornings on WINC. In 1948 and 1949, respectively, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope visited WINC, where they were interviewed on-the-air. Crosby and Hope were each in town for the city's annual Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival.
WINC joined the NBC Radio Network (previously named NBC Red) on November 1, 1951, after more than ten years as an ABC affiliate (previously called NBC Blue). WINC rejoined ABC Radio, carrying both networks' programming, on January 18, 1952, but dropped NBC programming in 1953. WINC became one of the flagship members of the Washington Senators Baseball Network, established in May 1952. The station added the long-running Voice of Prophecy program on June 3, 1953. On October 18, 1957, WINC owner Richard F. Lewis, Jr., died, and control of WINC passed to his widow, Marion Park Lewis. Ownership of the station was transferred again on January 31, 1964, from Richard F. Lewis Jr., Inc., a company owned by Marion Park Lewis, to Mid-Atlantic Network Inc., a corporation wholly owned by the Lewis family.
The station applied for and received a construction permit on August 9, 1958, to increase its broadcasting power from 250 to 1,000 watts, both day and night. The FCC approved the application in January 1961 but only for a daytime power increase. In 1959, WINC engineer Philip Whitney designed a CONELRAD alarm device for FM stations. The CONELRAD system allowed for early nationwide warnings in the event of possible enemy attack during the Cold War. Whitney is also credited with creating many of the remote control systems used by radio stations, including the microwave remote control system. The National Association of Broadcasters presented Whitney with its annual Engineering Award on April 7, 1970, for his work.
In the 1960s, the station hosted interviews with several prominent figures. Paul Harvey, in town for a speaking engagement, broadcast his "News and Comment" program from WINC studios on April 14, 1962. President Lyndon B. Johnson, visiting for the Apple Blossom Festival in 1964, was interviewed live on the station. The station was the first in Winchester to announce the assassinations of John F. Kennedy in 1963 and Robert F. Kennedy in 1968.
While attempting to renew the station's license in early 1971, Mid-Atlantic Network ran into trouble with the FCC due to the quantity of commercials the station was airing. The station was carrying 22 minutes of commercials an hour according to a letter from then-FCC Broadcast Bureau Chief Francis R. Welsh. Welsh said in the letter that the FCC was not convinced the amount of commercials served the community in a positive way. At the time, the FCC allowed no more than 18 minutes of commercials per hour. However, the station's license was ultimately renewed on May 14, 1971.
Part of WINC's programming in 1977 included daily political commentaries from former California governor Ronald Reagan. WINC remained an ABC Radio affiliate in 1978, carrying its American Contemporary Network with a middle of the road music format. WINC added adult contemporary music to its format in 1980. In 1981, the first year for which ratings information is available, WINC led all other area stations with a 16.3 rating.[a] The station dropped the middle of the road music in 1982, airing only adult contemporary music. In 1985, WINC removed ABC Radio's "American Contemporary Network" from its schedule in favor of ABC's "American Entertainment Network", while continuing to air an adult contemporary format. The station increased its nighttime power to 1,000 watts in 1986. The news department at WINC received an Associated Press Broadcasters Association national award for "Best Radio Spot News" in 1988.
The local prosecutor, City of Winchester Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Thomson, filed suit against WINC and sister station WINC-FM in June 1988 for a promotion Thomson called an "illegal cash lottery". A license plate number of a car with a WINC bumper sticker was announced over the air, and the owner was given 92 minutes to call in and choose to accept a prize of $92 or give up the money for a chance of winning $9,200. Thomson compared the contest to the game show Let's Make a Deal. On December 19, 1988, Winchester Circuit Court Judge Perry Sarver ruled in favor of WINC stating he did not believe "promotional plans such as was used ... are in violation of the lottery statute". Sarver also said it would require a "substantial expenditure" for the contest to be considered a lottery.
By 1991, WINC was airing a classic hits format, which was dropped a year later, returning to adult contemporary. Talk programs were added in 1994 and all music dropped two years after that. Also in 1996, WINC became an affiliate of AP Radio. With the change to News/Talk, WINC garnered only a 2.9 in the 1996 radio ratings. In contrast, sister station WINC-FM received a 12.1 during the same ratings period.
The station's Internet presence also began in 1996, as a subpage within sister station WINC-FM's website. WINC launched its own website in 2008. In 1998, WINC began using the slogan "The Right Side of the AM Dial". The station picked up CBS and CNN affiliations in 2000, dropping the Associated Press.
On October 22, 2007, WINC debuted a live and local morning show called The Winchester Morning Magazine airing weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. The program, hosted by Michael Haman, featured topics ranging from local general interest to news. The program was cancelled under a year later in September 2008, and the station returned to syndicated programming in the mornings. Also in 2008, WINC began using the "First in Winchester, First in News" slogan.
On May 17, 2007, Mid-Atlantic Network announced it was selling WINC to North Carolina-based Centennial Broadcasting. The price of the sale, initially reported at $36 million, also included sister stations WINC-FM, WWRT (now WZFC), and WWRE (now WXBN) in Winchester and WBQB and WFVA in Fredericksburg. Later reports had the price of the sale at $35.972 million.
Centennial CEO Allen B. Shaw, commenting in a Winchester Star interview on the sale, said he had been considering buying the company for several months. At the time of the interview, he did not foresee any changes to the stations. The sale closed in August 2007, and in the last ratings book under Lewis Family ownership, WINC received a 2.7 rating. The station's ratings have stayed within a two- to three-point range, while the format has remained the same after the sale.
Sister-station WZFC began simulcasting WINC on January 31, 2018, extending WINC's programming into Front Royal and Woodstock, as well as parts of Warren and Shenandoah Counties in Virginia. The addition of the FM simulcast was something Operations manager Mike Herald had considered "for quite some time" but only brought to fruition due to the current political climate. Hearld felt the "conservative lean" of the hosts aired by WINC would "resonate really well with the folks here in the valley" as "Mr. Trump has made things very exciting". The fact that Warren and Shenandoah Counties voted Republican or "red" by "at least a 30-point margin" in the 2016 Presidential Election and the 2017 Virginia Gubernatorial Election also made it a "natural fit".
WINC carries a news/talk/sports format established in 1996. The station's weekday schedule starts with Jim Bohannon's America in the Morning newshour followed by Hugh Hewitt. Conservative talk show hosts Laura Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levin are then broadcast, followed by The Jim Bohannon Show and Coast to Coast AM.
WINC carries five-minute newscasts every hour from Fox News Radio. The station also has a news department that prepares and broadcasts local news reports. The station is an affiliate of the Virginia Tech IMG Sports Network, which carries Virginia Tech football and basketball.
Weekend programming on WINC includes The Pet Show hosted by Warren Eckstein, The Sam Sorbo Show, The Kim Komando Show, and home-improvement shows In the Garden with Andre Viette and On the House with the Carey Brothers. The Score, a statewide conservative talk program, hosted by WRVA's Scott Lee, is also heard. The station also airs "best of" editions of previously recorded weekday programming.