About WCIA3Midwest Television, based in Champaign, owned and managed the station, which had its inaugural transmission on November 14, 1953. Midwest Television was created in 1952 by August C. Meyer Sr., a lawyer and the chairman of the board of the Champaign-based Bank of Illinois. Meyer extended the company's reach by purchasing WMBD-AM-FM-TV in Peoria, Illinois, in 1960, and KFMB-AM-FM-TV in San Diego, California, in 1964. In 1999, Midwest sold a majority stake in its Illinois television operations to Nexstar. In 2001, that corporation purchased Midwest's remaining shareholding in the Illinois stations.
WCIA was a flagship CBS affiliate with subsidiary ties to NBC and DuMont. DuMont ceased operations in 1956, and WCIA abandoned NBC in 1959, when WCHU-TV (now WICD) began operations. During the 1953-1954 TV season, it also aired a few ABC series.
WCIA, the sole commercial VHF station in Central Illinois, has long been one of the country's most prominent television stations. It battled off attempts by WICS/WICD and WAND to move it into the UHF spectrum on two occasions, alleging that switching to UHF would result in a loss of 150,000 viewers.