About KOLO8 ABCKOLO debuted on the airways as KZTV on September 23, 1953. It was Nevada's second station, following KLAS-TV in Las Vegas (which debuted two months earlier), and the first in northern Nevada. It had wanted to be the first in Nevada, but a carpenters' strike prevented it from doing so. It transmitted programs from all four networks but was primarily a CBS affiliate; yet, none of the soap operas it cleared in the 1950s originated from CBS.
Donald W. Reynolds of the Donrey Media Group (now Stephens Media LLC) founded it with the intention of making it an NBC affiliate. NBC, on the other hand, refused, noting that Reno had just 97 television sets at the time and asking, "Who would be dumb enough to build a television station in Reno, Nevada?" Reynolds' proposition was met with significantly greater enthusiasm by CBS. Reno was the smallest city in the country with a television station at the time channel 8 went on the air.