Channel 13 began operation in October 1953 as KGGM-TV, owned by the Hebenstreit family's New Mexico Broadcasting Company along with KGGM radio (610 AM, now KNML). In the late 1960s, the Hebenstreits sold a minority share to Chicago's Harriscope Broadcasting, which at one point owned WSNS-TV in Chicago (among other stations). Many early Westerns were filmed, at least partially, at KGGM. The large studio that it used is now KRQE's "Newsplex," a combination newsroom and news studio. KGGM talent Earnest "Stretch" Scherer, known as Captain Billy, came over to the station from KOB in the mid-1950s, and hosted a children's show called Captain Billy's Clubhouse. The format was a kids' peanut gallery on bleachers holding about 50 seats with games and banter between cartoons, à la Bozo's Circus. Captain Billy was a sea captain with a Dutch boy white haircut sticking out from under a sea Captain's hat and big brush moustache. In late October 1972, Scherer was shot in the station's lobby after a misunderstanding involving a jealous husband (Scherer, who was hosting the station's local segments of the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, had apparently put his arm around a female volunteer on-air, making the woman's husband angry). Scherer died that December at a hospital. Among many alumni at KGGM/KRQE is Ray Rayner, formerly a children's television personality at WGN-TV in Chicago. He spent the last several years at KRQE before retiring.