About KCRG 9ABCDuring the late 1940s, the Cedar Rapids Gazette, then-owners of KCRG-AM 1600, filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a TV station license. At the time, the FCC had a backlog of over 200 applications and had decided not to proceed with action on further applications until the backlogged requests could be filled.
After the backlog was cleared, many applications were filed for licenses. The Gazette Company didn't want to compete for a license and decided to withdraw the initial application. Instead, it joined with a number of other investors as Cedar Rapids Television Company (CRTV), which was granted a license for channel 9. The station began broadcasting October 15, 1953.
Initially, the station was known as KCRI because the other investors didn't want the new television station so closely identified with the Gazette newspaper. The radio station also took the KCRI call sign because one of the television station's managers suggested that every mention of "KCRG" on-air was a promotion for the newspaper—one for which the Gazette would have to pay each time. After about a year of operation, the Gazette bought out its partners in CRTV and the station was renamed KCRG-TV in 1954.
KCRG news logo used from 1992-2011 (modified in 2002); the "9" in the logo has been in use since 1989.
From 1954 to 2015, the station remained under the ownership of Gazette Communications, which was renamed the SourceMedia Group in mid-2010. After the 1996 sale of WHO-TV in Des Moines, KCRG-TV was the only locally owned and operated television station left in Iowa. KCRG started broadcasting in high definition television in January 2003. The station also had the first news helicopter in Iowa, "NewsCopter 9".
KCRG's broadcasts became digital-only, effective June 12, 2009. The station had attempted to convert on February 17, 2009 with the majority of other Cedar Rapids stations, but the FCC requested they maintain one analog commercial network signal for the market for the remaining four months. Upon KCRG-TV's digital transition completion in June 2009, the "KCRG-TV" callsign was legally transferred from the now-defunct analog channel 9 to the new digital channel 9 with the "KCRG-DT" callsign being permanently discontinued.
In September 2015, Atlanta-based Gray Television and Gazette Communications announced they had an agreement where Gray Television would buy KCRG-TV for $100 million, with the transfer taking place on October 1. The sale was completed on November 1.
KCRG became a sister to KWQC-TV in nearby Davenport after Gray purchased the NBC affiliate as a condition of its owner, Media General, merging with Nexstar Broadcasting Group (now Nexstar Media Group), parent of rival WHBF-TV. In 2019, Ottumwa station KYOU-TV came under common ownership with KCRG when Gray completed its merger with Raycom Media, acquiring the Fox/NBC-affiliated station outright from American Spirit Media.