Went on the air on April Fools' Day of 1955 as the third TV station in Tampa, as a CBS affiliate.
Was the undisputed local news leader in the Tampa Bay area for years, with "Pulse News" and the slogan "Big 13, Where News Comes First." Things started to go downhill when the name of the newscast was changed to "Eyewitness News" and the hourlong 6:00 news was cut back to a half-hour to make room for syndicated programming at 7:00. Then trusted anchorman Hugh Smith was arrested for soliciting an underage prostitute and fired.
Tended to make programming decisions such as preempting a CBS "Peanuts" special for a syndicated "Benny Hill" special in the early 1980s. Never carried "Bold and the Beautiful" because of their hourlong noon newscast, originally named "Pulse Plus."
Eventually, came under the ownership of the New World station group, and therefore switched affiliation to Fox in the early-morning hours of December 12, 1994, although without carrying the Fox Kids Network programming block. At first, called themselves "13 Fox," but eventually changed to "Fox 13."
One notable Tampa landmark is a tall concrete tower next to WTVT's studio building on Kennedy Boulevard which appears to have a giant golf ball on top. WTVT calls this SkyTower radar.