KHQA went on-the-air September 23, 1953. Although licensed to Hannibal (hence accounting for the "H" in its callsign), its studios have long been located across the Mississippi River in Quincy. KHQA has always been a primary CBS affiliate, although it had a secondary affiliation with DuMont between 1953 and 1956. The station shared secondary ABC affiliation with WGEM-TV (channel 10) in the 1960s. KHQA also aired a number of UPN programs during late-night hours between 1995 and 2006. The station was originally owned by Lee Enterprises of Davenport, Iowa along with the Hannibal Courier-Post, and sister radio stations WTAD and WQCY-FM (now WCOY). Lee sold the Courier-Post in 1969, but held onto KHQA and the radio stations until December 1986 when the company sold KHQA to A. Richard Benedek, whose television holdings eventually became Benedek Broadcasting. The radio stations were sold to Eastern Broadcasting. At the time of the sale, KHQA was the smallest station in Lee's TV portfolio.