About KCCIKCCI started on the air on July 31, 1955 as KRNT-TV, the third television station in Des Moines and the ninth in Iowa. It was owned by the Cowles family, publishers of the Des Moines Register and Des Moines Tribune newspapers, along with KRNT radio (AM 1350 and the original KRNT-FM at 104.5, which went dark). The calls stood for the papers' nickname in central Iowa, "the R 'n T".
The Cowles family and rival KSO radio (now KXNO, also owned by the Cowles interests until 1942) both applied for the channel 8 construction permit. A decision was held up due to issues with the Cowles' ownership of Look magazine. Eventually, the two stations reached a settlement that allowed KRNT to own 60 percent of the TV station and KSO to own 40 percent. Yet once the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the station's license, KRNT immediately bought out KSO's share of the station. KRNT-TV's broadcasting day was originally about five to six hours long, and included a 15-minute news program later in the evening. The station has been part of the CBS television network through its entire history, owing to KRNT radio's long affiliation with the CBS Radio Network.