About CI ProudOn January 1, 1958, the station signed on as the third television source in the Peoria area, after WEEK-TV (channel 25) and WTVH (channel 19, now WHOI). It was initially owned by John Fetzer, along with WMBD radio, and broadcast an analog signal on UHF channel 31. (AM 1470 and FM 93.3, now WPBG). President Theodore Roosevelt famously praised Grandview Drive (the original home of WMBD radio) as "the World's Most Beautiful Drive," which inspired the names of all three stations. Because WMBD radio had long been a CBS affiliate, channel 31 naturally took over the CBS affiliation from WTVH.
On the second story of what was originally the Majestic Theatre, WMBD-TV shared studios with its radio sisters. Fetzer had previously received a building permit for VHF channel 6 in 1949, but those plans were shelved when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) declared Peoria-Bloomington an all-UHF market.
In 1960, the WMBD stations were sold for $1.85 million to Midwest Television Incorporated of Champaign (owner of sister CBS affiliate WCIA). WMBD has broadcast some original programming from WCIA in addition to sharing resources with the latter. WMBD was the first Peoria station to transmit color television in the early 1960s. In the 1960s and 1970s, it shared a repeater, W71AE channel 71, with WEEK-TV in order to extend its broadcast reach. On November 15, 1962, the broadcast license for this low-powered outlet was awarded. In a Rohn advertising in the July 1, 1963 edition of Broadcasting, a photograph of W71AE's 485-foot (148 m) Rohn tower and its sixteen bay antenna is displayed.
In June 1977, WMBD relocated to its current home on North University Street, and it is now Peoria's sole commercial television station with studios in the city. In September 1988, it became the area's first stereo broadcaster. Midwest Television sold a majority stake in its Illinois television stations to Nexstar in 1999. Midwest sold its remaining investment in WMBD, WCIA, and WCFN to Nexstar in 2001, and the WMBD radio stations to Triad Broadcasting.