On April 11, 1980, WMDT began broadcasting in the Salisbury region. It was an ABC affiliate with a secondary NBC affiliation. It was the idea of the late J. Paul Audet, a television pioneer who worked in the Albuquerque, New Mexico and Charleston, South Carolina markets. To build and manage the station, he and his son, James R. Audet, secured around $3,500,000 in stock and loan finance. WMDT received AP and UPI honors for its unique ENG efforts in its early years of operation. Brechner Management Company purchased the station in 1982 through its Delmarva Broadcast Service subsidiary. The station became the lone ABC affiliate in 1992, broadcasting ABC programming as well as a mix of syndicated shows; this left the Salisbury area without an NBC affiliate until 2014, when WRDE-LD became an NBC affiliate. For the next 22 years, cable systems in the region broadcast NBC shows via the network's stations in Baltimore (WMAR-TV until January 1995, then WBAL-TV), Philadelphia (KYW-TV until September 1995, then network-owned WCAU), or Norfolk (WAVY-TV).