About WCIA3The station's first broadcast was on November 14, 1953, and it was owned and operated by Midwest Television, headquartered in Champaign. August C. Meyer Sr., a lawyer and chairman of the board of the Champaign-based Bank of Illinois, founded Midwest Television in 1952. Meyer expanded the company's footprint by buying WMBD-AM–FM–TV in Peoria, Illinois, in 1960 and KFMB-AM–FM–TV in San Diego, California, in 1964. Midwest sold off controlling interest in its Illinois television holdings to Nexstar in 1999. That company acquired Midwest's remaining interest in the Illinois stations in 2001.
WCIA was a primary CBS affiliate, carrying secondary affiliations with NBC and DuMont. DuMont shut down in 1956 and WCIA dropped NBC in 1959 when WCHU-TV (now WICD) started. It also carried a few ABC shows during the 1953–1954 television season.
As the only commercial VHF station in Central Illinois, WCIA has been one of the country's most dominant television stations for most of its history. On two occasions, it fought off attempts by WICS/WICD and WAND to force it onto the UHF band by claiming that moving to UHF would cause it to lose 150,000 viewers.