The station signed went on the air on October 5, 1968 as KPLM-TV (named for the Palm as in "Palm Springs") on UHF channel 42 and was the market's first station. It was originally owned by Pacific Media Corporation. However, it would hold the distinction of being the only station in the Coachella Valley for just three weeks, as NBC affiliate KMIR-TV started up at that time on channel 36. It first operated from studios located on East Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs. Pacific Media sold the station to Esquire Communications in 1979, and the following year, it was renamed to KESQ-TV. At this point, KESQ-AM 1400 was combined with the television station into a studio complex on Melanie Place in Palm Desert. Esquire then sold it to Gulf Broadcasting in 1984. In the mid-1980s, its call sign was featured in a logo above a tri-color "red-blue-yellow" rainbow until being replaced by a golden "3" in 1994/95 that is still in use. Taft then sold KESQ to former Gulf Broadcasting executive E. Grant Fitts in 1986.