About WIFR 23On September 12, 1965, the station debuted as WCEE-TV. Rock River Television Corporation was the initial owner. WREX-TV, the area's previous CBS station, moved to ABC full-time, relegating CBS to WCEE. Since then, it has been affiliated with CBS and is the only station in the market that has never changed affiliations. In 1977, the call letters were changed to the current WIFR, which stands for "Wisconsin-Illinois-Freeport-Rockford." In September of that year, General Media sold the station to Worrell Newspapers of Charlottesville, Virginia. In 1986, Worrell sold to Benedek Broadcasting all three stations WIFR, WHSV-TV in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and the now-defunct WBNB-TV in Charlotte Amalie, US Virgin Islands. When Benedek declared bankruptcy in 2002, Gray Television purchased WIFR and WHSV.
A violent windstorm blasted through Rockford on the morning of July 5, 2003. WIFR's transmission tower at 2523 North Meridian Road in Rockford, which was located behind the studio and office building, fell. The tower's fragments landed in a field behind the station's offices. Nobody was hurt or killed. A new tower was completed nearly four months later, and WIFR's signal was restored to full strength.
WIFR turned off its analog signal, broadcasting on UHF channel 23, at noon on February 17, 2009, the initial planned date for full-power television stations in the United States to switch from analog to digital broadcasts under a government requirement (which was later pushed back to June 12, 2009). The station's digital signal remained on UHF channel 41 before the transfer. PSIP allows digital television viewers to view the station's virtual channel as its original UHF analog channel 23.