WWTV began broadcasting on January 1, 1954. Sparton Corporation, a Jackson radio manufacturer, controlled the station on channel 13. It was Michigan's first television station north of Lansing, arriving many months before Traverse City's WPBN-TV (channel 7). WWTV has been a CBS affiliate from its inception, but it has had secondary connections with ABC and DuMont (the latter shut down in 1956). WWTV carried ABC programming with WPBN until 1971, when WGTU (channel 29) signed on and became the area's ABC affiliate. On weekdays, WWTV showed select ABC soap operas and game programs, while on weekends, WPBN carried ABC sports programming.