WBIR-TV originally signed on the air on August 12, 1956, as a primary CBS affiliate, taking that affiliation away from WTVK (UHF channel 26, now WVLT-TV on VHF channel 8).
In January 1961, Radio Cincinnati, Inc. sold WBIR-AM-FM-TV to the News-Piedmont Company of Greenville, South Carolina, owner of WFBC-AM-FM-TV in its home city. In 1967, News-Piedmont merged with Southern Broadcasting to form the Southeastern Broadcasting Corporation. Soon afterward, Southeastern sold off most of its radio stations (including WBIR-AM-FM), purchased four more television stations and changed its name to Multimedia, Inc. WBIR shared flagship status with WFBC-TV (now WYFF).
WBIR debuted a new logo which consists of the number 10 from the previous logo and a heart located in the middle of the number. The station also received a new tagline called Straight from the Heart. During this logo's run, channel 10 switched from CBS to NBC on September 10, 1988 due to WTVK (now WVLT-TV, VHF channel 8) having a weaker signal than WBIR and NBC being successful in the ratings. The station also debuted a new tagline to anticipate the switch called NBC and Channel 10, A New Beat of the Heart. Multimedia merged with the Gannett Company that same year.