KDAG was originally KRAZ, signing on in 1969 as the FM side to KRZE-AM, owned by E. Boyd Whitney -
and was the first FM station licensed to Farmington. KRAZ ("Crazy") was primarily a country music station for much of its existence..though it did do some rock and easy listening music in its early years. In the early 1980s, the stations went into receivership and were acquired in 1985 by Farmington resident Homer Pirkey - who had been in the sales end of the broadcasting business.
In 1991, with a new country competitor on the air and a rough local economy, the stations again fell into the hands of a court-appointed operator: Hobbs, NM radio station owner Bob Coker. Coker, a former ABC Contemporary Radio Network anchor brought in Rick James, (another former ABC Radio Network anchor!) to manage the stations.
After an evening playing every version of the Willie Nelson song "Crazy", James put KRAZ's country format out of its misery and adopted the moniker "Star 97" with a top 40 hits format. This didn't last long - 6 to 8 months - James was out - and Coker LMA'd the station to Durango's KIQX - who rebroadcast their programming on the 96.9 frequency. But with both KRAZ and KRZE's transmitters and other equipment in poor shape (KRAZ was reduced to operating on its 10 watt exciter) - and a lack of sufficent revenue to maintain operations - both stations left the air in the middle of 1992.
After nearly 18 months of legal proceedings, the off-air station was acquired early in 1994 by Jeff Thomas (who already owned KKFG and KCQL). Not long after Thomas acquired the station - and while it was still off the air - a
mysterious late-night fire occured at the station's transmitter site off Highway 371, south of Farmington. The fire mainly affected the building with the equipment suffering primarily smoke damage.
In February of 1994 on a plane flight back from Dallas, Texas - Thomas and Operations Director Dan Kelley together decided a classic rock format would be appropriate for the station. Crosstown KRWN had great success airing ABC's satellite classic rock format - and both felt KRWN was ripe for a head-on attack.
Jim Burt was brought in to rebuild KRAZ's malfunctioning and now smoke-damaged CSI 20kw FM transmitter, Marti STL-8 links and other equipment to return the station to the air.
Kelley brought in Jack Evans (PD) and Beau Bennett (MD) of Jacor's KRFX/Denver to consult and help with the start-up.
In April of 1994, while rebuilding was underway and the point was reached where the transmitter could be put on the air, KRAZ began airing Evans-supplied "goofy loops" - which included the audio of complete Three Stooges shorts and Richard Simmons workout videos. These played repeatly and generated some attention that something was up at 96.9.
In mid-April of 1994, just minutes after the final technical work was completed, the station officially launched as "Big Dog 96.9". Connie Calhoun ("Connie C.") (who once worked at the old KRAZ) was the first air personality heard on the station. A call letter change to KDAG happened within a few weeks after sign-on. Then sales-manager Bob Beckley came up with the "Big Dog" slogan.
When the spring 1994 Arbitrons were released, KDAG and KRWN were within one rating point of each other. In spring of 1995, KDAG was the clear leader and KRWN abandoned the format.
In 1997, Thomas sold KDAG and its sister stations to Gulfstar Communications of Austin, Texas - which later merged with Capstar Communications. Through another merger, Capstar became AMFM which was then bought up by its current owner, Clear Channel Communications.