KCMO-TV signed on the air on September 27, 1953. The station was owned by the KCMO Broadcasting Corporation along with KCMO radio. It was originally an ABC affiliate with DuMont programming. A week after its launch, the Des Moines-based Meredith Corporation acquired KCMO-AM-TV and this merger was completed less than two months later.
Channel 5 became a CBS affiliate on September 28, 1955, switching with KMBC-TV.
In 1964, KCMO introduced a "5" logo that incorporated the CBS eye (sans the iris most of the time) within it. The Eyewitness News title for its newscasts was later adopted in 1966.
Shared with sister stations KPHO-TV in Phoenix, KVVU-TV in Henderson/Las Vegas, Nevada; WNEM-TV in Bay City, Saginaw, Flint and Midland in Michigan and until 1993, WTVH in Syracuse, New York.
On March 7, 1983, KCMO-TV changed its call letters to the current KCTV after its radio sister stations were sold off. It also moved its operations to Fairway, Kansas; on the Kansas side of the market. The newscast title Eyewitness News remained until 1985, and became Kansas City's News (putting it in line with the station's then-slogan "Kansas City's Television").
The "Kansas City's Television" slogan and the Kansas City's News branding were retired in 1993. The title of KCTV's newscasts became News 5, thus adopting the station slogan "5 Stands for News"; that slogan lasted until 1997 when it adopted "Taking Action" as its slogan until 1999.
In 1999, KCTV eliminated the "5" as their main logo and introduced a stylized "tower" with seismic waves. It represents the station's 1,042-foot transmitter tower at its former studios on East 31st Street on Union Hill south of Downtown Kansas City. During this time, the current newscast title KCTV 5 News was adopted. The slogan for this era was "News That Makes a Difference".
In 2002, KCTV switched to a more traditional logo with a large italic "5". The colors were also changed to red, white, and blue (which were meant to be patriotic colors commemorating the first year anniversary of 9/11). The slogan during this period was "Live. Late-Breaking. Investigative." This same slogan was also used for sister station KPHO from 2002 to 2008.
In 2011, the 2002 logo was given a slight update by having the edges of the box surrounding the "5" rounded off. "It's Your News" became the slogan during this period.
On October 11, 2015, KCTV incorporated the CBS eye with the italicized "5" and updated the KCTV 5 News logo. In addition, the station also debuted the slogan, "KCTV5 Stands for Kansas City".
On December 17, 2020, coinciding with the debut of a standardized graphics package (originally created for and launched in April 2020 by NBC-affiliated sister station WSMV-TV) that began rolling out to Meredith-owned stations that week, KCTV introduced an overhauled logo partially based on that used by Phoenix sister station KPHO-TV since 2008.