The station first signed on the air on June 19, 1953 as WTPA (standing for Television PennsylvaniA), operating as an NBC affiliate. WTPA was founded by the Newhouse family, whose media holdings eventually became Advance Publications, and was operated alongside Harrisburg's two major newspapers, The Patriot and The Evening News (since merged as The Patriot-News). The following year, it switched affiliations to ABC. It originally operated on UHF channel 71, but later moved to channel 27 in 1957, after that channel's original occupant, WCMB-TV, ceased operations. During WTPA's first year on the air, the station broadcast from 9:00 a.m. to 12:15 a.m. on weekdays and from noon to midnight on weekends. Early local programs included a midday religious program Daily Devotions, music and comedy-focused variety program Mac's Matinee, daytime talk show Harrisburg Hostess, cooking show Look What's Cooking and Susquehanna Trail.