WWHO began operating in 1987 under owner Wendell Triplet. Originally, the station used the call letters WWAT. At this time WWAT's primary transmitter was based in Chillicothe; a small repeater signal was carried in the Columbus market on channel 17. The call letters WWHO (and the nickname "Who-53") were adopted in 1993, to coincide with the station being added to many cable providers in the Columbus market.
The station operated as an independent station for a number of years until the launch of the WB television network in 1995. Then owned by Fant Broadcasting and under a local marketing agreement with NBC, WWHO (then "WB 53") remained a WB affiliate until the Paramount Stations Group (a subsidiary of Paramount Pictures) agreed to acquire the station in 1997. At that time the station took on UPN programming as a secondary UPN affiliate. Not long after, WWHO became a primary UPN affiliate identified as UPN53, and began cutting back on its WB programming.
On February 10, 2005, it was announced that Viacom (the successor to the Paramount Stations Group) was selling WWHO and WNDY-TV (in the Indianapolis market) to the LIN Television Corporation for $85 million.
While under the local marketing agreement in the 1990s, local NBC affiliate WCMH produced a 10 p.m. newscast for WWHO. On February 10, 2005, LIN Television announced its intention to bring 10 p.m. news back to WWHO. In the fall of 2005, WWHO entered a partnership with WBNS-10TV and began airing a 10pm half-hour newscast Monday through Friday that is produced by the 10TV Eyewitness News team. A few months later in the spring of 2006, the news began airing every night of the week at 10pm.
In the summer of 2006, it was announced that the UPN and WB networks would merge to create a more competitive network called The CW. The "C" coming from CBS/Viacom, owner of the UPN network. The "W" came from Warner Bros., owner of the WB network. WWHO was given the affiliation for the new CW in Central Ohio and on July 31st, the station became known as The CW on WWHO-TV. On September 18th, the network premiered nationally.
WWHO broadcasts at 5,000,000 watts, the maximum allowed by the Federal Communications Commission, covering Columbus and areas south. WWHO-DT (WWHO's digital signal) operates on channel 46.