Most of WFSB's programs are seen in Springfield, Massachusetts over a low-power semi-satellite station, WSHM-LD (channel 3). That station has its own studios in the Monarch Tower in downtown Springfield, although master control and some internal operations are based at WFSB's facilities.
WFSB signed on the air on September 21, 1957 as WTIC-TV, owned by the Hartford-based Travelers Insurance Company, along with WTIC radio (1080 AM and 96.5 FM). As Connecticut's second VHF station, WTIC-TV was one of the most powerful stations in New England, not only covering the entire state but a large chunk of western Massachusetts and providing secondary coverage to much of the southern sections of Vermont and New Hampshire. During its first year on the air, Channel 3 was an independent station, as ABC was affiliated with the state's other VHF outlet, WNHC-TV (channel 8, now WTNH) in New Haven; while CBS and NBC had owned-and-operated stations on the UHF band in the market, WHCT-TV (channel 18, now WUVN) in Hartford and WNBC (channel 30, now WVIT) in New Britain, respectively. With no network affiliation, WTIC-TV devoted much of its airtime to movies, syndicated programs, and three daily newscasts (including one at 10 p.m.).
In 1958, CBS was looking to sell WHCT-TV. The network's ratings had been alarmingly low in the market because television manufacturers were not required to have UHF tuners at the time. Many viewers northeast of Hartford got a better signal for CBS programming from WNAC-TV (now WHDH) in Boston or WPRO-TV (now WPRI-TV) in Providence, while those southwest of Hartford with an outdoor antenna were able to watch the network via New York City flagship station WCBS-TV. Network head William S. Paley decided that it was better to have CBS air its programming on a VHF station, even if it was only an affiliate. WTIC-TV was the obvious choice due to its massive coverage area. Paley quickly negotiated an affiliation deal, and channel 3 and became the network's new affiliate in the fall of 1958. Ironically, WTIC radio had been with NBC Radio for over thirty years. Soon after the affiliation switch, channel 3 surged to the top of the ratings, and has remained there more or less ever since.
The switch to WTIC-TV for CBS had repercussions in Springfield, Massachusetts, as it forced WHYN-TV (channel 40, now WGGB-TV) to drop its original CBS affiliation, which it replaced with ABC (previously, some ABC programs had been seen on WWLP). Over the years, WTIC-TV repeatedly blocked WHYN's attempts to switch back to CBS.
In 1962, the WTIC stations moved to Broadcast House, a state-of-the-art facility in the Constitution Plaza development in downtown Hartford. A decade later, in late 1972, Travelers Insurance decided to exit broadcasting. The announcement was made to the staff at an employee meeting held in Studio A on January 15, 1973. While the WTIC radio stations were spun off to a company formed by station management called 1080 Corporation, WTIC-TV was sold to The Washington Post Company. The sale of all three stations was closed on March 8, 1974 and the Post's broadcasting division, Post-Newsweek Stations, changed Channel 3's call letters on that date to the current WFSB in honor of broadcasting division president Frederick (Fritz) Sessions Beebe (Frederick S. Beebe). To get the WFSB call letters, the Post had to convince Framingham State College in Framingham, Massachusetts to give up those call letters, which were used on the college's low-power FM radio station, whose call letters were changed to WDJM-FM as a result of the switch. The WTIC call letters returned to Connecticut television in 1984 when Arch Communications, then-owners of WTIC radio, signed on as part-owners of a new independent station on channel 61.
In the late-1980s, Post-Newsweek moved its corporate offices from Washington D.C. to space located alongside Broadcast House making the station the company's flagship. This was part of a strategy move by the Post to give its various sub-corporations their own independent identities, which worked well at first. By the mid-1990s, however, WFSB found itself in a shrinking market without any significant growth opportunities. In June 1997, Post-Newsweek sold the station to the Meredith Corporation in exchange for WCPX-TV (now WKMG-TV) in Orlando, Florida. The sale closed that October although the Post-Newsweek group maintained its base in Hartford until 2000, when the company relocated to its then-largest station, WDIV in Detroit.
Even though Fairfield County is part of the New York City market where CBS flagship WCBS-TV is based, WFSB targets viewers in the area through "WFSB Fairfield County" on a fourth digital subchannel and the digital tier of Cablevision systems; it is essentially a simulcast of WFSB except for a preemption of Live! with Kelly and Michael (which is produced by and seen on WABC-TV).
WSHM's digital signal uses 3.5 for its broadcast feed and 3.6 for its own 24-hour local weather channel that is mirrored after "Eyewitness News NOW". These subchannels are available only in areas covered by WSHM's digital signal, which broadcasts at a low power.
WFSB shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 3, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 33 using PSIP to display WFSB's virtual channel as 3 on digital television receivers. WFSB was the only Connecticut station that participated in the "analog nightlight" program, with the analog signal remaining in operation until June 26.
Weeknights, WFSB airs a repeat of the evening's Entertainment Tonight after the Late Show with David Letterman, placing The Late Late Show with James Corden on a 30-minute tape delay, one of several affiliates (the others being KHOU, WWL, KMOV, KOTV, and WKMG) to do so. Additionally, until January 2008, the station pre-empted the first hour of The Early Show in favor of a third hour of its weekday morning newscast. The change was made after CBS began requiring all affiliates to carry The Early Show in its entirety.
WFSB presently broadcasts 33 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with five hours on weekdays and four hours each on Saturdays and Sundays). The station operates its own weather radar known as "Early Warning Pinpoint Doppler". Located above one of the passenger terminals at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, this is also used by sister station WSHM (branded similarly as "Pinpoint Doppler"). The Springfield station will often share resources with WFSB and this station doing the same for coverage from Connecticut.
After Post-Newsweek took control of the station in 1974, WFSB adopted the Eyewitness News title and format pioneered at KYW-TV in Philadelphia. Ironically, rival WTNH-TV used the Action News format made famous at then-Philadelphia sister station WPVI-TV and even used the same "Move Closer to Your World" music package. WFSB is the most-watched among the local newscast market's stations according to the Nielsen ratings, second only to the WTIC-TV's current weeknight newscasts.