KGOU became a full service public radio station on January 1, 1983 at the direction of the Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma. In 1988, KGOU was transferred to the College of Continuing Education (OU Outreach) where the station serves the college's mission of service for life-long learning.
KGOU's broadcast power is limited to Class A and originally did not cover the greater Oklahoma City area. The university applied for a second station in Oklahoma City in the mid-1980's. The Federal Communications Commission finally awarded the construction permit to OU in 1990 and KROU signed on the air June 28, 1993, funded entirely by listener contributions.
With KGOU's expansion into the greater Oklahoma City area and the nearly simultaneous expansion of the signal of KCSC-FM at the University of Central Oklahoma, the two stations decided to adopt non-competitive programming schedules. KCSC (now KUCO) features classical music and KGOU features a news/talk and jazz/blues format. These new program schedules were adopted on September 2, 1996. The following year, in November 1997, KGOU began to integrate digital technology with the adoption of a computerized automation system for daily operations, which has increased reliability and accuracy in the presentation of the programming.
KGOU's studios were first housed on the third floor of Kaufman Hall, in a small, windowless suite of rooms. It became clear quite early that conditions were cramped and broadcasting and editing facilities were barely adequate for the professional staff and students to work in. In 2005, the station received permission to move to a larger space on the third floor of Copeland Hall, and a capital campaign was begun to raise funds for new equipment and extensive remodeling of the interior. KGOU began broadcasting from Copeland Hall in November 2006.
In 2007, KGOU completed two translator stations in southeast Oklahoma, expanding service to an area of the state that had limited public radio access. Translator K276ET broadcasts on 103.1 FM in the Seminole listening area, and K250AU broadcasts on 97.9 FM in the Ada listening area. A third translator station, K295BL in Chickasha at 106.9 FM was added in August 2010.
After ten years of planning, KWOU in Woodward at 88.1 FM entered program testing on December 29, 2010. KGOU added a fourth transmitter, KOUA in Ada at 91.9 FM, in January of 2011.
A fourth small translator in Shawnee was added in March 2015, K286BZ at 105.1 FM.
In the fall of 2017, KGOU and its licensee, the University of Oklahoma, struck an agreement with KCCU and Cameron University to assume operation of a transmitter and signal in Clinton at 89.1 FM, renamed KQOU, effective Dec. 1, 2017.
Since 1983, KGOU has grown from one transmitter with 9,000 weekly listeners and raising $4,400 in private funds to five transmitters and four small translators, with more than 90,000 listeners and raising more than $900,000 in private funds annually.