KRIV originally signed on the air on August 15, 1971 as KVRL, an independent station on UHF channel 26.
In 1975, the station's call letters were changed to KDOG, a callsign chosen by former station general manager Leroy Gloger. Fellow former general manager Jerry Marcus commented (upon his retirement) that he saw the calls appropriate during the station's formative years as, in his words, channel 26 was a "dogged station" ratings-wise. The station's slogan during this timeframe was "where every dog has his day."
In May 1978, Metromedia purchased the station and changed its call letters to KRIV-TV, in honor of then-Metromedia executive Albert Krivin.
In May 1985, Metromedia sold all of its independent stations to News Corporation, who announced its intentions to launch the then-new Fox Broadcasting Company on May 7, 1986, with KTTV, KDAF, WFLD, WNYW, and WTTG forming what would become Fox Television Stations. However, it continued to be programmed as an independent station as the network would not present full weeks of programming until 1993.