About WREX 13WREX debuted as a CBS main affiliate on October 1, 1953. It shared ABC with NBC station WTVO, channel 17 (which had signed on five months earlier), and also carried DuMont Television Network programming. Greater Rockford Television, a consortium of local businesspeople, owned it. The call letters were chosen to commemorate Rex N. Caster, the son of station president L.E. Caster. Rex Caster was a First Lieutenant in the United States Army who was killed in World War II in France.
WREX initially drew viewers from sections of the surrounding Madison region in addition to serving its immediate area. In fact, the two markets continue to have overlapping coverage among their television stations, particularly in Rock County, Wisconsin (technically in the Madison television market), where WKOW (channel 27) is a sister station to WREX, assisting with newsgathering in the northern part of the Rockford market. WREX was the sole VHF station in both the Rockford and Madison regions until WISC-TV (channel 3) went on in 1956. This was due to the fact that Rockford and Madison were wedged between markets with existing VHF channels—Chicago (channels 2, 5, 7, 9, and 11) to the east, Milwaukee (channels 4, 6, 10, and 12) to the northeast, and La Crosse/Eau Claire (channels 8 and 13) to the west.