On November 7, 1953, the first live broadcast on WIS was a University of South Carolina football game. In the decades that followed, the station has been committed to aggressive coverage of local news and special events. The call letters WIS stand for
"Wonderful Iodine State". They were adopted because of the great abundance of iodine in the South Carolina soil, which, before the use of iodized salt, led to a low incidence of goiters in the state's population. For many years WIS Television shared call letters, and a building, with WIS Radio. The radio station has since been sold.
Throughout its history, WIS-TV has never relinquished its position as Columbia's local news leader. Its preeminent status in the market has allowed it to extend reach and create multiple revenue opportunities. For instance, in partnership with a local cable operator, WIS sells market-specific commercials and programming to Florence, South Carolina, where it is the exclusive NBC signal. As the country's 83rd largest television market, Columbia offers the growth and stability of a state capital and is the home to the University of South Carolina and Fort Jackson Army Training Center.