The station first signed on the air on October 30, 1957, as WLWI. Founded by the Crosley Broadcasting Corporation, it originally operated as an ABC affiliate, taking the affiliation from Bloomington-licensed WTTV (channel 4, formerly a CW affiliate, now a CBS affiliate), which had affiliated with the network one year earlier. WLWI was one of four Crosley stations that made up the "WLW Television Network", alongside the company's television and the regional network's flagship WLWT in Cincinnati, WLWC (now WCMH-TV) in Columbus and WLWD (now WDTN) in Dayton, Ohio. Crosley also owned WLW radio in Cincinnati, WLWA (now WXIA-TV) in Atlanta and WOAI-TV in San Antonio. Channel 13 and its sister stations in Ohio shared common programming (such as The Ruth Lyons 50-50 Club, The Bob Braun Show, The Paul Dixon Show, Midwestern Hayride, The Phil Donahue Show, and Cincinnati Reds baseball game telecasts) and similar on-air branding which reflected their connection to each other. Channel 13 called itself "WLW-I" to trade on its association with WLW radio, which can be heard in most of the market during the day with a good radio.