About KWWL 7When the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opened up bids for channel 7 in Waterloo, it was obvious that the license would either go to Sonderling Broadcasting, owner of KXEL (AM 1540), or R.J. McElroy and his Black Hawk Broadcasting Company, owner of KWWL (AM 1330, now KPTY). After a long legal battle, Black Hawk won the license, and KWWL-TV signed on for the first time on November 29, 1953—a Thanksgiving Day present to eastern Iowa.
The station was originally affiliated with NBC and the DuMont network. During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.
In 1980, Black Hawk agreed in principle to merge with Forward Communications. However, the FCC told Black Hawk and Forward that it would have to sell either KWWL-AM-FM or channel 7. The KWWL stations had been grandfathered under a 1970s FCC rule banning common ownership of radio and television stations. When Forward decided to keep the radio stations, Black Hawk sold channel 7, along with sister station KTIV in Sioux City, to AFLAC just before the merger closed. In 1997, AFLAC sold its entire broadcasting division, including KWWL, to Raycom Media.
In 2006, Raycom sold KWWL and a handful of other stations following its purchase of the Liberty Corporation in late 2005. Quincy Newspapers became owner of KWWL on July 1, 2006. The merger made QNI the owner of four of the NBC affiliates serving Iowa, along with flagship station WGEM-TV in Quincy, Illinois, KTTC in Rochester, Minnesota, and Black Hawk/AFLAC sibling KTIV, which had been sold to QNI in 1989.
KWWL has been digital-only since February 17, 2009. The "KWWL" callsign was legally transferred from the now-defunct analog channel 7 to the new digital channel 7, with the "KWWL-DT" callsign being permanently discontinued. However, the PSIP identifier still identifies KWWL's main channel on 7.1 as "KWWL-DT."