About KGAN2 FOX28WMT-TV became Eastern Iowa's first television station on September 30, 1953. On VHF channel 2, it broadcast an analog feed. General Manager and part-owner William B. Quarton spoke before Game 1 of the 1953 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers. The station was always a major CBS affiliate with a secondary affiliation with DuMont.
It was the first station to be granted split-market status by the Federal Communications Commission, serving Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, and Dubuque (FCC). It was also the first station to transmit at the maximum power authorized for a low-band television station, 100,000 watts. The station was initially owned by a company that included American Broadcasting Stations, Quarton, and others. WMT-TV was the sister station to WMT radio (600 AM), which had been in the region since 1922. The initials were an abbreviation for the now-defunct Waterloo Morning Tribune, which controlled WMT radio from 1928 until 1934.
WMT-AM-TV was headquartered in what became known as Broadcast Park. The surrounding region was mostly rural when the facility was initially established. To transmit the signal, a 702-foot (214-meter) broadcast tower was erected. For the following four years, this was the major tower. A larger tower in Rowley was erected to broadcast the signal in 1956, however it was destroyed by a hurricane on December 10, 1956. This was quickly repaired and is still in use today. The WMT stations (including WMT-FM at 96.5, now KKSY-FM, which began broadcasting in 1963) were sold to the Morton family of Louisville, Kentucky in 1968. The family's interests were later renamed Orion Broadcasting.
Orion owned the WMT stations until 1981, when it merged with Cosmos Television, a division of insurance and broadcasting giant Liberty Corporation. The two businesses did, however, control more television stations than the FCC permitted at the time. Cosmos was required to sell WMT-TV as part of the deal and found a buyer in Guy Gannett Publishing of Portland, Maine. On October 29, 1981, the station's call signs were changed 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). In 1999, the Sinclair Broadcast Group bought KGAN and the majority of Guy Gannett's broadcasting interests.
Later that year, Sinclair announced the sale to Sunrise Television of KGAN and the Springfield/Champaign, Illinois double of WICS and semi-satellite WICD. The Sunrise transaction, however, was denied by the FCC owing to the company's ownership structure. The financial firm Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst, which was also the biggest stakeholder of the LIN TV Corporation, controlled a considerable portion of Sunrise shares. LIN controlled WAND in Decatur at the time, a competitor to WICS/WICD. The FCC found that HMTF owned enough stock in Sunrise that acquiring WICS/WICD would have resulted in a duopoly between two of the Central Illinois market's four highest-rated stations, which is prohibited under existing FCC duopoly regulations. WICS and WICD broadcast much of the same content, thus Nielsen Media Research considers the two stations to be a single station for counting reasons. The transaction fell through because KGAN was part of the package agreement and would not have been transferred to Sunrise without WICS/WICD, therefore Sinclair kept control of all three stations.