KAUZ signed on March 1, 1953 as KWFT-TV. The station has served as the CBS affiliate for the Wichita Falls-Lawton television market since its inception; although in the mid-1950s, the station also carried DuMont programs and during the late 1950s, the station was briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network. KWFT sold the television station in 1956 to Sydney Grayson, at which time channel 6’s call letters were changed to KSYD-TV. The station’s calls then changed to KAUZ-TV in July 1963, following a subsequent transfer of ownership. KAUZ-TV was also one of several stations nationwide to broadcast The Las Vegas Show, a short-lived late night program from the ill-fated Overmyer Network that ran for a few weeks in 1967.
On the afternoon of April 3, 1964 as a devastating tornado swept across the northern portion of Wichita Falls and neighboring Sheppard Air Force Base, KAUZ-TV broadcast one of the first tornadoes ever to shown on live television. The station interrupted regular programming to provide a live tornado warning in which the image of the funnel was shown on the station’s weather radar by then-meteorologist Ted Shaw, and a large and heavy studio camera was dragged outside the Channel 6 studios on Seymour Highway and pointed toward the tornado as it approached the northwest portion of Wichita Falls. That tornado killed seven people and injured over 100 others. Damage estimates exceeded $15 million and some 225 homes and businesses were destroyed on the north side of town and at Sheppard AFB.
About 15 years later on April 10, 1979, an even more devastating F4 tornado hit the southwest side of Wichita Falls. KAUZ’s then-chief meteorologist Rich Segal was on the air that afternoon and evening with complete coverage of the storms that culminated with the opening of the 6 p.m. broadcast of Eyewitness News as multiple tornadoes had reached the southwest corner of the city and began their path of destruction. About less than five minutes into the newscast KAUZ-TV and other Wichita Falls area television and radio stations were knocked off the air due to power outages resulting from the damaging storms. The twister killed 42 people and injured more than 1,700 along a 45-mile long and two-mile wide path. Besides the terrible human costs, 3,100 homes were destroyed, with an estimated 20,000 people left homeless. The total damage in Wichita Falls was around $400 million. A year later, Channel 6 broadcast a documentary about the 1979 tornado including the events of that day leading to the storm, the destruction and aftermath based upon the station’s news footage from a year earlier along with progress of recovery efforts as of April 1980.
KAUZ was the first television station in the Wichita Falls-Lawton market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in color, beginning in February 1966, just a few months after CBS began converting most of its network schedule from black-and-white to color.