In 2001, the FCC approved WKNC's construction permit and allowed the station to move forward with its signal increase. In October 2003, WKNC began broadcasting at 25,000 watts. The station hosted its first Double Barrel Benefit concert at Kings Barcade in January 2004. General Manager Jamie Proctor started the benefit to help supplement the station's budget and move away from reliance on student fee income and it raised more than $55,000 in its first 12 years.
WKNC continued to expand its presence and influence in the North Carolina music scene. In 2006, the local music program "Smash Hits" was rebranded as "The Local Beat." "The Local Lunch" premiered as a weekly program focused on local music in January 2008 and was expanded to five days a week in May 2008. The station co-created the weekly Local Band Local Beer concert series in March 2007 and on-campus concert series Fridays on the Lawn in September 2009.
Moving into the 2010s, WKNC began increasing its cover of local and national music festivals. The station signed on as a media sponsor of the first Hospctoch Music Festival in 2010 and has sent correspondents to cover festivals like Moogfest, Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance, Art of Cool Fest, Carolina Rebellion, South by Southwest, Bonnaroo, Wrecking Ball and Day for Night.
WKNC also continued to expand its off-air presence, offering its first podcast-only program "SoundOff" in 2010. In 2013, the station launched "WKNC's The Lounge," a video series featuring performances live from WKNC's back lounge. They added another medium in 2015 with the publication of its first zine, "Bad Words (and other things you can't say on the radio)."