The station went on the air on October 18, 1954 on VHF channel 8 from a transmitter at its original studios on TV Road (WBTW still owns studios at this location) in the Back Swamp section north of the town of Quinby (with a Florence address). It was owned by Jefferson Standard Life Insurance Company (later becoming Jefferson-Pilot, now part of Lincoln Financial Group). It was Jefferson Standard's second television station behind WBTV in Charlotte. WBTW's call sign was derived from "W" being the next letter in the alphabet after "V." The two stations were programmed separately, but shared a microwave system built in 1959. On September 17, 1962, it moved to VHF channel 13 and its previous channel was re-allocated to High Point, North Carolina as WGHP.