The station signed on in the mid-1980s as KKQX, broadcasting a soft AC format. It changed to its present call letters KKLI in 1988. The station has used various forms of the 'Lite' moniker since its sign-on.
The station was owned by Colorado Springs radio veteran Henry Tippie (d/b/a Tippie Communications, Inc.) in the early 1990s. Following deregulation in 1996, Citadel Broadcasting in Colorado Springs (then KKFM and KKMG) acquired the station.
In a multi-station swap deal, KKLI was sold in 1999 to Capstar Broadcasting, which merged with Chancellor Broadcasting to become AMFM Inc. and soon after absorbed into Clear Channel Communications.