KCWB signed on the air on September 14, 1996 as the Kansas City area's original WB network affiliate. It was locally-owned but managed through a local marketing agreement by Hearst Corporation (owner of ABC affiliate KMBC-TV). The logo used at the time was similar in resemblance to the "WB32" logo used on sister station WWWB-TV in Tampa Bay (now WMOR-TV).




In January 1998, KCWB rebranded itself as "KC 29", when it switched network affiliations with KSMO-TV and became a UPN affiliate due to a greater deal between The WB and KSMO-TV's then-owners, the Sinclair Broadcast Group. The callsign was later changed to KCWE in August of that year. It was also the third station in Kansas City to carry the weekday and Saturday morning Fox Kids blocks (which moved to KMCI-TV in 1999).




In February 2000, KCWE changed its on-air branding as "More TV 29" to match its Tampa Bay sister station WMOR-TV, which was branded as "More TV 32" just two years prior.


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In September 2002, the station adopted "KCWE TV 29" as its official on-air branding. The "More TV" branding was still used, but only for general promotion. In 2005, the "More TV" branding was dropped and was solely referred to as "KCWE TV".


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When the UPN network folded in 2006, KCWE became a CW affiliate and incorporated the network's name into its branding, as the station's callsign had already included "CW" in it (since its sign on as KCWB). In March 2009, Hearst Corporation applied to have KCWE's license transferred from its indirect subsidiary (operating under licensee "KCWE-TV Company") directly to its Hearst Television subsidiary, the transfer was completed on May 1 of that year.