The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) awarded the license of Phoenix's third VHF commercial station to a partnership of Gene Autry, owner of KOOL radio (AM 960, now KKNT), and the Prairie Farmer newspaper, owners of KOY radio (AM 550). The two groups had competed heavily for the construction permit, but merged to avoid lengthy litigation. The Autry-Prairie Farmer group signed on channel 10 as a shared operation on October 24, 1953. Under the arrangement, the two separate stations alternated airtime, but used the same channel allocation and transmitter. The combined KOY-TV and KOOL-TV operation operated as a primary CBS and secondary ABC affiliate.
In May 1954, KOOL-TV took over channel 10 full-time, after Autry paid $200,000 for KOY-TV's share of the operation; it was the first time that a post-freeze shared-time arrangement was ended. It lost the ABC affiliation when KTVK (channel 3) signed on in February 1955, leaving channel 10 as an exclusive CBS affiliate; as a result, it was now able to feature Autry's show Gene Autry's Melody Ranch on its schedule. Tom Chauncey, who also owned the biggest Arabian horse ranch in Phoenix, was a minority partner with Autry. Over the years, KOOL-TV ran nearly the entire CBS schedule, along with some first-run syndicated shows and local shows including daily newscasts and the first bilingual weekly kids' TV show called Niños Contentos hosted by Kathy Shayna Shocket for a decade, The hour show was replaced by The Pee Wee Herman Show when the station was sold by Tom Chauncey to Gulf Broadcasting.