KHQA first broadcast on September 23, 1953. Although licensed to Hannibal (thus the "H" in its callsign), its studios have long been in Quincy, across the Mississippi River. KHQA has always been a principal CBS affiliate, with the exception of a brief stint with DuMont from 1953 to 1956. In the 1960s, the station had a secondary ABC affiliation with WGEM-TV (channel 10). Between 1995 and 2006, KHQA also broadcast a variety of UPN programs late at night. Lee Enterprises of Davenport, Iowa, once owned the station, as well as the Hannibal Courier-Post and sister radio stations WTAD and WQCY-FM (now WCOY). Lee sold the Courier-Post in 1969, but kept KHQA and the radio stations until December 1986, when it was sold to A. Richard Benedek, whose television holdings formed Benedek Broadcasting. Eastern Broadcasting purchased the radio stations. KHQA was the smallest station in Lee's TV portfolio at the time of the transaction.