On August 15, 1949, the station now known as WOOD-TV (Grand Rapids) signed on.  Originally WLAV-TV and operating on channel 7, the station was the only one in Grand Rapids, carrying programming from NBC, CBS, ABC and the DuMont network.

In a story published on WOODTV.com, the first broadcast was from a gala at Midtown Theater. The audience was invite-only; in the lobby, the overflow crowd watched along on TV. Since most homes didn’t have a television set yet, people lined the sidewalk outside Herpolsheimer’s department store downtown to watch on the sets in the windows.

In 1951, WOOD Radio bought WLAV-TV and with that, the call letters changed to WOOD-TV.  A channel change happened in 1953, from channel 7 to channel 8.

In 1954, the station was among only 21 stations in the country, and the first in West Michigan, to air the Tournament of Roses Parade in color.  In the 1970s, due to a federal ruling, the station changed its call letters to WOTV, but in 1983, the WOOD-TV call letters returned.

See more photos, stories and video at WOOD-TV’s 70th Anniversary page here.