The station launched on July 14, 1953, under the call sign KROC-TV, making it the first station in Southern Minnesota and third in the state after KSTP-TV and WTCN-TV in the Twin Cities. It was owned by the Gentling family and their Southern Minnesota Broadcasting Company, it was sister to KROC radio (AM 1340 and FM 106.9). The station's original studios and transmitter were located on Hennessey Hill, two miles (3.2 km) west of Rochester. The station carried programming from all four commercial networks of the 1950s: ABC, CBS, and DuMont but was a primary NBC affiliate. The station was launched by G. David Gentling, son of family patriarch Gregory P. Gentling. In November 1966, the station moved to a new building on First Avenue Southwest in Downtown Rochester.