KFVE signed-on February 7, 1988 as the final VHF station in the market. Originally, KFVE focused on low-budget programming such as Hawaii Five-O repeats. Later under the moniker "Hawaii is Watching us Grow", it focused on movies and syndicated fare. As a small-time independent station, it had to rely on low-budget programming and Japanese television dramas (most of which were later carried on the independent KIKU television network) through much of its early existence. That all changed in 1993 when another local station, KHNL (then a Fox affiliate owned by the Providence Journal Company), took over management of KFVE through a local marketing agreement (LMA). The latter station then merged its operations into KHNL's facility. It was the first such local market sharing organization in the country. After KHNL took over oversight of this station in the mid-1990s, coverage of University of Hawaii athletics moved over to KFVE which re-branded as "The Home Team".
On January 16, 1995, the station became a charter affiliate of UPN under the name "K-5 UPN Hawaii". On December 28, 1998, it became a secondary WB affiliate with the addition of programming from that network. Previously, The WB was carried throughout Hawaii on KWHE. KFVE was acquired outright by Raycom Media on December 31, 1999. Raycom had purchased KHNL and the LMA with KFVE from Belo Corporation two months earlier. On September 2, 2002, this station dropped its affiliation with UPN and became a primary WB affiliate. The station re-branded itself as "K-5, The Home Team: Hawaii's WB". In the Honolulu market, UPN programming moved to KHON-TV and KGMB, which both carried secondary affiliations with the network from 2002 to 2004.
On March 7, 2006, Raycom Media announced that KFVE would affiliate with MyNetworkTV as part of a group deal involving many of Raycom-owned affiliates of The WB and UPN (whose consolidation and shutdowns the following September resulted in the birth of The CW Television Network, which would affiliate in Hawaii with a digital subchannel of KHON). KFVE officially joined MyNetworkTV on September 5 and did not air The WB's final two weeks of prime-time programming (though it did air WB daytime and Saturday morning programming until the network's end).
On January 15, 2009, DirecTV was transferred from KFVE's analog to its digital and high definition signals due to the analog shutdown. The HD signal of KFVE was pulled off DirecTV on January 16 due to unknown reasons. The station was restored on the satellite system with a standard definition digital signal on January 17. It left channel 5 and moved to channel 23 when the analog to digital transition was completed. However, it continues to display its PSIP virtual channel as 5. On Wednesday, February 29, 2012 KFVE began broadcasting in HD on DirecTV.
On August 18, 2009, Raycom Media announced that it would enter into a shared services agreement with MCG Capital Corporation (owner of CBS affiliate KGMB) in which the operations of that station, KFVE, and KHNL would be combined. The SSA also moved KFVE and its programming move from PSIP channel 5 to channel 9 under MCG ownership while KGMB moved from 9 to 5 and fall under Raycom's ownership. (The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) only recognizes ownership of facility ID's and not station call signs or intellectual property, allowing MCG Capital to gain ownership of KFVE and Raycom ownership of KGMB during the swap.) The channel swap took effect with the SSA on October 26, 2009, as KFVE moved from 5 to 9 and changed its on-air branding from "K-5" to simply "KFVE."