About CI ProudThe station signed on January 1, 1958 as the third television outlet in the Peoria market after WEEK-TV (channel 25) and WTVH (channel 19, now WHOI). Airing an analog signal on UHF channel 31, it was originally owned by John Fetzer along with WMBD radio (AM 1470 and FM 93.3, now WPBG). All three stations took their calls from a local legend that President Theodore Roosevelt once described Grandview Drive (original home of WMBD radio) as "the World's Most Beautiful Drive." WMBD radio had long been a CBS affiliate, so naturally channel 31 took over the CBS affiliation from WTVH.
WMBD-TV shared it studios along with its radio sisters on the second level of what was then the Majestic Theatre. Fetzer had previously won a construction permit for VHF channel 6 as early as 1949, but those plans were shelved when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made Peoria–Bloomington an all-UHF market.
The WMBD stations were sold to Midwest Television Incorporated of Champaign (owner of fellow CBS affiliate WCIA) in 1960 for $1.85 million. In addition to sharing resources with WCIA, WMBD has also carried some original programming from the former. In the early-1960s, WMBD was the first Peoria station to broadcast color television. Along with WEEK-TV, it maintained a repeater, W71AE channel 71, in LaSalle in the 1960s and 1970s in order to expand its signal reach. The broadcast license for this low-powered outlet was granted on 15 November 1962. A picture of W71AE's 485-foot (148 m) Rohn tower and its sixteen bay antenna is shown in a Rohn advertisement in the July 1, 1963 issue of Broadcasting.
WMBD moved to its current location on North University Street in June 1977 and still remains Peoria's only commercial television station with studios in the city itself. It became the area's first outlet to broadcast in stereo in September 1988. In 1999, Midwest Television sold controlling interest in its Illinois television stations to Nexstar. In 2001, Midwest sold its remaining interest in WMBD, WCIA and WCFN to Nexstar while the WMBD radio stations were sold to Triad Broadcasting.