About WZZM 13A local group known as West Michigan Telecasters received a construction permit to operate a television station on VHF channel 9 in 1961. However, later that year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) revised the channel positions in the area, resulting in the VHF channel 13 allocation moving from Cadillac to Grand Rapids. WWTV in Cadillac, then on channel 13, was required to move to channel 9 as a result of the action.
WZZM-TV officially signed on the air at 6:30 p.m. on November 1, 1962. The station went off the air just 20 minutes later, after a tube on its transmitter failed; it returned to the air 10 minutes later. The celebratory opening show anchored by news director Jack Hogan. WZZM certainly had humble beginnings; its first broadcasts were from a banquet room-turned studio at the Pantlind Hotel (now the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel). Live broadcasts included This Morning with Bud Lindeman, Shirley's Show and an evening news program, though the station's most notable show is The Bozo Show, which was broadcast on the station for more than 30 years. Bill Merchant was the original Bozo, with Dick Richards as "The Ringmaster"; Richards took over the role of Bozo shortly thereafter.
As a result of the swap with WWTV, WZZM was now short-spaced to WSPD-TV (now WTVG) in Toledo, Ohio. It had to build its transmitter about 40 miles farther north than the other stations in West Michigan and redirect its signal in order to protect WSPD-TV from interference. As a result, WZZM's signal barely reached Kalamazoo and just missed Battle Creek. Southwestern Michigan viewers had to rely on WSJV in Elkhart, Indiana, WXYZ-TV in Detroit, or WLS-TV in Chicago for ABC programming until WUHQ-TV (channel 41, now WOTV) signed on from Battle Creek in 1971. Sometime in late 1964, WZZM-TV signed on a satellite station in Kalamazoo, operating on VHF channel 12.