The station began broadcasting on March 23, 1954, owned by the family of taxicab magnate and Cleveland Browns founder Mickey McBride along with WINK radio (1240 AM, now WAXA at 1200 AM; and 96.9 FM). WINK-TV was the first television station in Southwest Florida and is the fifth-oldest surviving station in the state. Although the call letters appear to be an outgrowth of its CBS affiliation, in fact they were simply carried over from its radio sister, which adopted them in 1944—seven years before the CBS Eye made its first appearance. It carried programming from the four major networks of its era: CBS, NBC, ABC and DuMont in the first two decades of its existence. However, it has always been a primary CBS affiliate.