The station signed on the air as WUSN-TV on September 25, 1954. The station was originally owned by Drayton Hastie. It aired an analog signal on VHF channel 2 and was originally an NBC affiliate with a secondary ABC affiliation. Hastie sold the station to Reeves Telecom in 1960. It shared ABC programming with WCSC-TV until 1962, when WCIV signed-on and took the NBC affiliation. WUSN then became a full-time ABC affiliate. During the late-1950s, it was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network. In 1971, Reeves then sold Channel 2 to State Telecasting Company. On November 8, 1971, the station adopted its current call letters, WCBD standing for Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester counties (the three counties in the Charleston metropolitan area). Former owner Media General bought the station from State Telecasting in 1983. It remained the market's ABC affiliate until August 19, 1996, when it swapped affiliations with WCIV and became an NBC affiliate once again. This was a result of an affiliation deal between ABC and WCIV's owner at the time, Allbritton Communications.