About KGAN2 FOX28The station signed-on September 30, 1953 as WMT-TV, Eastern Iowa's first television station. It aired an analog signal on VHF channel 2. General Manager and part-owner William B. Quarton made some remarks which were then followed by Game 1 of the 1953 World Series between the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers. The station has always been a primary CBS affiliate, but also carried a secondary affiliation with DuMont.
It was licensed to serve the Cedar Rapids, Waterloo and Dubuque areas making it the first station to be given split-market status by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). It was also the first station to transmit with 100,000 watts of power, the maximum power allowed for a low-band television station. Initially, the station was owned by a group consisting of American Broadcasting Stations, Quarton and several others. WMT-TV was sister to WMT radio (600 AM) which had been broadcasting in the area since 1922. The call letters stood for the now-defunct Waterloo Morning Tribune which owned WMT radio from 1928 until 1934.
WMT-AM-TV were based at what came to be known as Broadcast Park. When the facility was first built, the surrounding area was still mainly rural. A 702-foot (214 m) high broadcast tower was built to transmit the signal. This served as the primary tower for the next four years. In 1956, a taller tower in Rowley was built to transmit the signal but a windstorm on December 10 blew the tower down. This was soon rebuilt and remains in service today. In 1968, the WMT stations (including WMT-FM at 96.5, now KKSY-FM, which signed on in 1963) were sold to the Morton family of Louisville, Kentucky. The family's holdings eventually became known as Orion Broadcasting.
The WMT stations remained under Orion's ownership until 1981 when the company merged with Cosmos Broadcasting, a subsidiary of insurance and broadcasting conglomerate Liberty Corporation. However, the two companies owned more television stations than the FCC allowed at the time. As a condition of the sale, Cosmos had to sell WMT-TV and found a buyer in Guy Gannett Publishing of Portland, Maine. On October 29, 1981, the station changed its callsign to KGAN-TV (FCC rules at the time prohibited TV and radio stations in the same city, but with different owners from sharing the same call letters, hence the change; the "-TV" suffix would later be dropped on September 13, 1984). KGAN, along with most of Guy Gannett's broadcasting holdings, was purchased by the Sinclair Broadcast Group in 1999.
Later that same year, Sinclair announced the sale of KGAN and the Springfield/Champaign, Illinois duo of WICS and semi-satellite WICD to Sunrise Television. The FCC, however, did not allow the Sunrise purchase due to the company's ownership structure. A large block of Sunrise stock was owned by the investment firm Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst, which was also majority stockholder of the LIN TV Corporation. At the time, LIN owned WAND in Decatur, a rival to WICS/WICD. The FCC ruled that HMTF held enough stock in Sunrise that an acquisition of WICS/WICD would have resulted in a duopoly between two of the four highest-rated stations in the Central Illinois market, which is forbidden under current FCC duopoly rules. WICS and WICD simulcast much of the same programming and the two outlet's ratings are combined by Nielsen Media Research and considered to be a single station for counting purposes. Since KGAN was part of the package deal and would not have been sold to Sunrise without WICS/WICD, the sale fell through and Sinclair retained ownership of all three stations.