About WZZM 13In 1961, the West Michigan Telecasters got a building permission to operate a television station on VHF channel 9. However, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) altered the channel locations in the area later that year, resulting in the VHF channel 13 allotment shifting from Cadillac to Grand Rapids. As a result of the case, WWTV in Cadillac, which was formerly broadcast on channel 13, was forced to relocate to channel 9.
WZZM-TV went on the air on November 1, 1962, at 6:30 p.m. After a tube on its transmitter failed, the station fell off the air barely 20 minutes later; it returned to the air 10 minutes later. The opening show was hosted by news director Jack Hogan. WZZM had humble beginnings, broadcasting from a banquet room turned studio at the Pantlind Hotel (now the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel). Live programs included This Morning with Bud Lindeman, Shirley's Show, and a nightly news program, but The Bozo Show, which aired for more than 30 years, was the station's most renowned show. Bill Merchant was the original Bozo, with Dick Richards as "The Ringmaster"; Richards eventually took over as Bozo.
WZZM was now short-spaced to WSPD-TV (now WTVG) in Toledo, Ohio as a result of the exchange with WWTV. To protect WSPD-TV from interference, it had to install its transmitter roughly 40 miles farther north than the other stations in West Michigan and reroute its signal. As a result, WZZM's signal only just made it to Kalamazoo and narrowly missed Battle Creek. Until WUHQ-TV (channel 41, now WOTV) signed on from Battle Creek in 1971, viewers in Southwestern Michigan had to rely on WSJV in Elkhart, Indiana, WXYZ-TV in Detroit, or WLS-TV in Chicago for ABC programming. WZZM-TV signed on a satellite station in Kalamazoo, broadcasting on VHF channel 12, sometime in late 1964.