KEPR-TV went on the air for the first time December 28, 1954 as a satellite of KIMA-TV. It was owned by Cascade Broadcasting Company, which also owned 40 percent of KWIE (610 AM) in Kennewick. Cascade bought the remaining 60 percent of KWIE in 1956 and changed its call letters to KEPR, matching the television station, the following year.
A few years earlier, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) collapsed all of central Washington into one giant television market. However, this market was designated a "UHF island" due to being sandwiched between Seattle to the west, Spokane to the east and Portland to the south. It soon became apparent that one full-power UHF station would not be nearly enough to adequately cover this vast and mountainous area. KEPR-TV thus signed on as the first station in the United States to be a satellite of another.