The station traces its history back to the October 5, 1946 launch of the first FM radio station to sign on in Texas, "KERA-FM" (no relation to the current radio and television stations known under the same call letters), although its roots go back to an experimental FM station "W5X1C" that signed on October 15, 1945, and another experimental trial dating back to 1939. By 1947, it had moved from its original home at 94.3 FM to a preferred location in the center of the dial at 97.9 FM under the WFAA-FM callsign, initially simulcasting its AM sister station WFAA (570 AM). With FM broadcasting in its infancy, Belo decided that the FM simulcast was not worthwhile and signed WFAA-FM off the air on September 1, 1950. The frequency remained dormant until Belo decided to revive WFAA-FM in 1958, receiving a construction permit and putting WFAA-FM back on the air on January 6, 1961. After simulcasting WFAA(AM) for a few years, a Beautiful music was established in 1965. In September 1973, WFAA-FM flipped to album-oriented rock (AOR) as KZEW-FM (known to listeners as "The Zoo") on September 16, 1973. Featuring talent such as John LaBella and John Rody ("LaBella and Rody"), George Gimarc, Charley Jones, Dave Lee Austin, John B. Wells, Nancy Johnson, John Dew, John Dillon, Doc Morgan and Tempie Lindsey, the station's concept and programming were initially under the direction of Ira Lipson. The FM station shared studio locations with WFAA (AM) on the second floor of the facility.
In September 1973, WFAA-FM changed its call letters to KZEW and played classic and progressive rock music for 16 years with the on-air slogan The Zoo. In 1987, KZEW and KRQX (the former WFAA radio, now KLIF) were sold by A.H. Belo Corporation, which retained ownership of the Dallas Morning News and WFAA-TV (channel 8), to Cox Radio. On December 11, 1989, KZEW dropped the rock format and began stunting with Christmas music. On January 1, 1990, KZEW switched formats to soft rock, changing both calls and branding to KKWM ("Warm 97.9"). A year later, the station changed its callsign and station nickname again to KLRX, "Lite 97.9", while maintaining its soft rock format.
In 1993, the station was sold by Cox to Infinity/CBS Radio, and on October 15, at 7 p.m., KLRX flipped to classic hits, branded as KRRW ("Arrow 97.9"). On April 3, 1997, the station switched back to soft rock/adult contemporary music and renamed to the current KBFB, and the slogan became B-97.9. Programming during the AC format included Delilah during the nighttime hours via satellite before she was shifted to then-sister station KVIL.
KBFB made the change to Urban Contemporary as "97.9 The Beat" on September 26, 2000, after the station was sold to Radio One. Since launch, the station has been in direct competition against longtime heritage urban station KKDA. In addition to KKDA, they also had a competitor with former Rhythmic Contemporary rival KZZA until the station flipped to Spanish Oldies in 2008. Today, KBFB competes with KKDA, along to an extent with CHR formats on KHKS-FM (106.1 Kiss FM), and KLIF-FM (Hot 93.3). Throughout the years as "The Beat," the station has shifted between Urban Contemporary and CHR/Rhythmic. As of November 2013, KBFB reports as a Rhythmic station to Mediabase.
In the beginning, the morning show on the station was hosted by Russ Parr (who started his radio career at defunct KJMZ in the Metroplex). In 2003, it was home to Steve Harvey in the mornings through a syndicated simulcast from its sister station in Los Angeles, KKBT (also nicknamed "The Beat"). Eventually, Radio One let Harvey go and the Rickey Smiley Morning Show replaced him in 2005. Smiley was dropped in the fall of 2017.
Since the mid 2000s, KBFB has also broadcast on HD Radio, though they never had a secondary HD multicast until March 2014. Since that time, KBFB-HD2 has simulcast Gainesville-based sister station KZMJ (Majic 94.5) for those in the immediate DFW area and its southern neighbors who are not in KZMJ's pre-determined coverage area. In February 2018, the station began broadcasting Vietnamese-language programming on HD3.