About FOX 61A group led by Arnold Chase and his company, Arch Communications, won a construction permit for channel 61 in September 1983. Chase originally planned to call his new station WETG, in memory of Ella T. Grasso, the first woman to serve as governor of Connecticut, who died in 1981; these call letters were assigned on February 3, 1984. Grasso's son was a minority partner in Chase's group.
However, changes in Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations during this time allowed separately-owned stations in the same market to obtain consent to share a call sign. Chase then asked his father, owner of WTIC radio (1080 AM and 96.5 FM) to allow Arch to use the historic WTIC-TV call letters. After securing consent, Arch applied for a waiver to use the call sign in June 1984; the call change took effect on August 4 (the WETG call letters were subsequently used by a station in Erie, Pennsylvania, now fellow Fox affiliate WFXP). The WTIC-TV call sign had last been used by what is now WFSB (channel 3) from 1957 to 1974. In memory of Grasso, WTIC showed clips during their nightly sign-off of Grasso at work while church bells played "The Star-Spangled Banner". A graphic at the end of the sequence mentioned that the station was dedicated in Grasso's memory.
WTIC-TV began operation on September 17, 1984, with a special live broadcast of a gala event hosted by TV star Eddie Albert and longtime WTIC radio personality Bob Steele. On this date, the station became the first station in New England to broadcast a stereo audio signal. Former President Jimmy Carter was in attendance. Originally, it was a general entertainment independent station running cartoons, sitcoms, old movies, CBS shows pre-empted by WFSB, ABC shows pre-empted by WTNH (channel 8), NBC shows pre-empted by WVIT (channel 30), drama series, and sports in competition with the established independent station in the market, WTXX (channel 20, now CW-affiliated sister station WCCT-TV). During 1985 and 1986, the station invested in stronger programming.