The station signed on as VHF channel 8 with the ABC complete affiliate on September 30, 1951, after WSB-TV switched to channel 2 and became affiliated with NBC.
In 1953, the station moved to channel 11 in order to create a public television station which later launched in 1960 as WGTV. Plus, the call letters were changed to WLWA, after Broadcasting, Inc. sold to Cincinnati-based Crosley Broadcasting Corporation.
Then changed the callsign again in 1962 to WAII-TV meaning Atlanta's 11', after Fairbanks bought the station.
By 1968, the station was sold to Pacific & Southern Broadcasting, changing to WQXI-TV, the pun letters changed to Roman numerals which is used from that point on.
On December 23, 1973 the station changed its call letters to the present WXIA-TV refering to 11 Atlanta (and later 11 Alive) after being sold to Phoenix-based Combined Communications Corporation.
On September 20, 1976, the station began adopting the iconic 11 Alive branding , sharing with WPIX, which lasted for ten years. Later in 1979, Combined Communications merged with the Gannett Company, which its stations stopped used the word "Alive" except WXIA-TV, which continued to call itself since this point (WLKY and WPTA continued to use the Alive branding after being sold, only to drop it in 1986 and 2016 respectively).
On September 1, 1980, WXIA-TV became an NBC affiliate after WSB-TV decided to affiliate with ABC due to the network's higher ratings at the time. The station also got a new tagline called Atlanta's Proud New Tradition reflecting the network's "Proud as a Peacock" campaign at the time. The station made some slight changes to its look, keeping the '11' (but now being rendered in red and blue), but using a different typeface the Alive wordmark, and rendering it in capital letters.
Soon after this logo was first introduced, WXIA-TV dropped the "11 Alive" branding on August 1994. However, an outcry by Atlanta residents over the removal of the popular branding forced Gannett (which later spun off into Tegna in 2015) to restore the branding a month later. It was officially restored again in 1996.