WWTV began broadcasting on New Year's Day in 1954. The station was on channel 13 and was owned by Jackson radio manufacturer Sparton Corporation. It was Michigan's first television station north of Lansing, predating Traverse City's WPBN-TV (channel 7) by several months. WWTV has been a CBS affiliate from its first day, but initially carried secondary affiliations with ABC and DuMont (the latter shut down in 1956). When WPBN signed on, WWTV shared ABC programming with that station until 1971, when WGTU (channel 29) signed on and became the area's ABC affiliate. WWTV aired some of ABC's soap operas and game shows while WPBN aired ABC's sports programming on the weekends.