WAOW signed on the air June 12, 1965. It was owned by Mid-Continent Broadcasting. It served as a satellite station of Madison's WKOW as part of the Wisconsin Television Network which would later include WXOW in La Crosse and WQOW in Eau Claire. Midcontinent Broadcasting sold the stations to Horizon Communications in 1970. Liberty Television bought the stations in 1978. This station gradually increased its local programming and content, finally severing the electronic umbilical cord with WKOW in the 1980s.