KUCO signed on in 1966 as KCSC, the student-run station of what was then Central State College. When the school was elevated to university status as Central State University, it tried to change the calls to KCSU, but those calls were already being used by Colorado State's student station. In 1978, it built a new 400-foot tower and expanded its signal to 100,000 watts, extending its coverage to nearly all of central Oklahoma. The station started becoming a more professional operation in 1983, and by 1985 had become Oklahoma City's main NPR station. Oklahoma City had been one of the largest cities without a full-market NPR station. Previously, parts of the city got grade B coverage from Oklahoma State's KOSU and the University of Oklahoma's KGOU.
In 1993, however, KGOU built a repeater in Spencer to better serve Oklahoma City. Central and OU agreed to adopt non-conflicting schedules in 1996. Although KCSC was the more powerful station, it dropped all NPR programming to become an all-classical station, while KGOU became central Oklahoma's main outlet for NPR programming. KBCW signed on in 1999.
Although Central had adopted its current name, the University of Central Oklahoma, in 1990, it was not until April 1, 2014 that the radio station became KUCO.