The station first signed on the air on October 10, 1977 as WXNE-TV (standing for "Christ (X) in New England"); originally operating as an independent station, it was founded by the Christian Broadcasting Network. The station's early programming format was targeted at a family audience, consisting of older syndicated reruns and a decent amount of religious programming (including the CBN-produced program The 700 Club and programs from many other televangelists). Religious programs ran for about six hours a day during the week, and throughout the day on Sundays. The station also carried the daily and Sunday Mass from the Boston Catholic Television Center. Secular programming consisted of westerns, older movies, family-oriented drama series, old film shorts, and classic television series. By 1980, religious programs had been reduced on Sundays to 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. to midnight, and to about four to five hours a day during the week. For several years under CBN ownership, Tim Robertson served as the station's program director, appointed by his father and CBN founder Pat Robertson.