KFRE-TV began in 1985 as independent station KMSG-TV. The station ran Spanish programming in the afternoons and evenings as well as religious programs about 6 hours a day in the mornings. The religious shows were in English. The station ran home shopping on overnights. The Spanish programming came from a service known as "Net Span" and eventually became known as Telemundo. On January 1, 2001, as a result of Telemundo moving its affiliation to KNSO that station dropping the LMA with KMPH, KMSG-TV became the LMA partner of KMPH. The station also picked up the WB network (which had been through three stations by then) and changed its call letters to KFRE-TV, branding itself on-air as "WB 59". A year later Pappas purchased KFRE. The KFRE calls had originally been on what is now KFSN-TV from 1956 to 1971. A few seasons later, KFRE began carrying 4Kids TV on Sunday mornings after KMPH dropped it.
On January 10, 2006, KFRE-TV launched a new 11:00 p.m. newscast produced by sister station KMPH. Anchor Allison Ruddell was on every weeknight and Derrol Nail was on the weekends. The newscast was canceled on February 5, 2007 due to low ratings compared to the "big three" affiliates. Allison Ruddell was transferred over to KMPH's midday newscast, but left the station in July 2007 while Derrol Nail left the station in January 2008. In the fall of 2006, as a result of UPN and WB merging to for the CW network, KFRE became the CW affiliate in the market.
KFRE-TV is also the home to Fresno State Bulldogs sports. It was also the Fresno over-the-air home for the San Francisco Giants until 2007-08 when the Giants moved to a digital simulcast of KAIL-TV. As of 2008, it is now the home to the Oakland Athletics.
On May 10, 2008, 13 of Pappas' stations filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection.