About WIFR 23The station went on the air as WCEE-TV on September 12, 1965. It was originally owned by Rock River Television Corporation. The area's previous CBS affiliate, WREX-TV, switched to ABC full-time, sending CBS to WCEE. It has been with CBS ever since, and is the only station in the market to have never switched affiliations. The call letters were changed to the present WIFR in 1977 and stand for "Wisconsin-Illinois-Freeport-Rockford." General Media sold the station to Worrell Newspapers of Charlottesville, Virginia in September of that year. Worrell sold all three stations WIFR, WHSV-TV in Harrisonburg, Virginia and now-defunct WBNB-TV in Charlotte Amalie, U.S. Virgin Islands to Benedek Broadcasting in 1986. When Benedek went bankrupt in 2002, WIFR and WHSV were acquired by current owner Gray Television.
On the morning of July 5, 2003, a severe wind storm swept through Rockford. WIFR's transmitter tower, located behind the studio and office building at 2523 North Meridian Road in Rockford, collapsed. Pieces of the tower fell onto a field behind the station's headquarters. No one was injured or killed. Nearly four months later, a new tower was erected and WIFR's signal was back to full power once again.
WIFR shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 23, at noon on February 17, 2009, the original target date in which full-power television stations in the United States were to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which was later pushed back to June 12, 2009). The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 41. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 23.