KMDL began broadcasting August 1, 1981 with 3,000 watts at 97.7. When KMDL signed on, it was a local Kaplan station with a marginal signal over the Lafayette market. In 1991, in an effort to better serve the market as a whole, KMDL upgraded to 40,000 watts and moved to 97.5. The move lasted for a short time, however, as interference forced the station to move back to 97.7 until it was found that the station could move to 97.3 interference-free.
KMDL has been in a country format since first signing on as "K-Middle," in reference to 97.7 appearing in the middle of the dial on an analog radio. After moving to 97.3, KMDL dropped the "K-Middle" branding and identified only using frequency and call letters until shifting from a traditional country format to a current hit-based country format in September 1995, at which it began identifying as "the Dawg," a reference to USL's then-Bulldog mascot.