The station first hit the airwaves on November 26, 1936 as KOBH (Kall Of the Black Hills), a Thanksgiving Day present to western South Dakota. It was owned by Black Hills Broadcasting, and operated from studios in the Hotel Alex Johnson in downtown Rapid City.
Originally broadcasting with a very limited licensed power of 150 watts, in 1944 KOBH sought approval from the Federal Communications Commission to move up to 5000 watts, which would dramatically improve its ability to reach this mountainous area. Asked to help, Congressman Francis H. Case sought military support. He discovered that U.S. Army Air Corps airplanes based at the recently established Rapid City Army Air Base (later renamed Ellsworth Air Force Base) used KOBH as a navigation beacon while training for European strategic bombing during World War II. With Pentagon backing, Case convinced the FCC to grant the power increase. On New Year's Day 1945, the station signed on from its new, more powerful tower under new call letters, KOTA. In the same year, it secured an affiliation with CBS Radio that continues to this day.
In 1954, Rapid City businesswoman Helen Duhamel, a minority owner since 1943, bought full control of the station, changing its corporate name to Duhamel Broadcasting Enterprises. The Duhamels still own the station today. Since the 1990s, it has been a news and talk station.
Notable alumni of the station include B-movie producer Arch Hall Sr.