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SPECTRUM AUCTION: RF channel changes in the Upper Midwest

Townsquare Media's KZRV/96.7 (Sartell-St. Cloud) has dropped Active Rock for Classic Hits as "The River," positioned as "Central Minnesota's Greatest Hits." The `60s to `80s hits format debuted early Tuesday (6/27). It has no direct competition in St. Cloud, but is under the umbrella of iHeartMedia's "Kool 108" (KQQL/107.9 Anoka-Minneapolis) due to KQQL's north metro transmitter location. The previous "Rev" format had been on the air for ten years and worked in tandem with Townsquare Classic Rocker "Z103, The Power Loon" in competition with Tri-County Broadcasting's "Rockin' 101" (WHMH/101.7 Sauk Rapids-St. Cloud). (6/27/2017)

KXZT/107.9 (Newell) is on the air relaying the Classic Country format of sister station KRKI/99.5 (Keystone-Rapid City), which has also changed its name from "The Range" to "True Country." KXZT transmits with 4.8kW/455m (class C3) from the Terry Peak transmitter site near Lead, covering the northern Black Hills. KRKI transmits from the southern Hills and also has an on-frequency booster in Rapid City. The stations are owned by Bad Lands Broadcasting, which bought KXZT last year. (6/22/2017)

WWWI/1270 (Baxter-Brainerd) has flipped back to NBC Sports Radio, ending a simulcast with "Talk 100" (KLKS/100.1 Pequot Lakes-Brainerd). The simulcast had begun when R&J Broadcasting began operating the stations last year. (6/22/2017)

Several years after buying a Black Hills radio station in an effort to secure lower royalty rates for online streaming, Pandora Media is selling the station to another local group. Haugo Broadcasting will pay Pandora $300,000 for "Hits 102.7" (KXMZ Box Elder-Rapid City), according to an asset purchase agreement filed with the FCC. KXMZ's Adult Top 40 format will join Haugo Rocker "K-Sky" (KSQY/95.1 Deadwood-Rapid City), Country outlet "Kick 104" (KIQK Rapid City), and "ESPN Rapid City" (KTOQ/1340 and K289AI/105.7 Rapid City). (6/19/2017)

"Milwaukee's True Oldies Channel" has signed on a second FM frequency. The format, originating on WZTI/1290 (Greenfield-Milwaukee), is now being rebroadcast on the southeast suburban signal of W297BY/107.3. Radio/DX Information from Wisconsin reported the sign-on in late May. The 250-Watt translator is licensed to Franklin but transmits from Oak Creek. W297BY was formerly W270CT (Black River Falls) and moved as a result of last year's AM revitalization filing window. WZTI's programming is also relayed on W262CJ/100.3 (Milwaukee). (6/17/2017)

A suburban Milwaukee school district has dropped plans for a low-power FM station. The Whitefish Bay School District has returned the permit for WFBW-LP/103.3 (Whitefish Bay), saying it had been unable to find financial or other community support for the station. WFBW-LP had faced an October construction deadline. (6/17/2017)

"Retro Radio, The Bug" has moved its Oshkosh translator frequency from 98.7 to 98.3. The translator was originally signed on in Oshkosh as W254CS/98.7 last year and recently moved to 98.3 as W252DR, getting a slight bump in power to 250 Watts. The Classic Hits format originates on WISS/1100 (Berlin), and the translator was moved from Berlin to Oshkosh as a result of last year's AM revitalization filing window. The format is also heard on WAUH/102.3 (Wautoma). (6/17/2017)

WCCY/1400 (Houghton) and its FM translator, W257CZ/99.3, have dropped Soft Oldies for Hot Adult Contemporary as "The Lift." The format debut came Friday (6/16) amid Bridgefest, which celebrates the city's lift bridge. DX-midAMerica reports that WCCY continues to carry ABC hourly newscasts and Detroit Tigers baseball, and will add Finlandia University sports. WCCY's flip comes after a recent transition at crosstown "Mix 93.5" (WKMJ Hancock-Houghton) from its longtime Hot AC format to mainstream AC. WCCY had carried a Soft Oldies format for decades and had continued the format after the addition of W257CZ a few years ago. Houghton Community Broadcasting owns WCCY/W257CZ along with Classic Hits "97.7 The Wolf" (WOLV Houghton) and Country "K-Bear 102.3" (WKHB Houghton). (6/16/2017)

Mount Rushmore Broadcasting and its president, Jan Charles Gray, have filed a petition for reconsideration of the FCC's decision to cancel the license of KAWK/105.1 (Custer). The FCC cancelled KAWK's license in May, saying that it found in a review of records that the station had not broadcast from an authorized facility from 2009 to 2012. Gray argues, among other things, that he should not be punished for mistakes made by his attorneys, that the "small geography error" caused no harm, and that not having a seven-year statute of limitations is "not the main stream of Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence." Gray also makes a personal plea to new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, saying that the action began during the previous administration but he hopes that Pai "has a different view of common courtesy, and reasonableness." Mount Rushmore Broadcasting also owns KFCR/1490 (Custer), KZMX/580 (Hot Springs), and KZMX-FM/96.7 (Hot Springs), as well as stations in Wyoming. (6/16/2017)

Custer County Broadcasting has signed on K242CU/96.3 (Broken Bow), relaying the Country format of KCNI/1280 (Broken Bow). The translator was moved down from South Dakota as a result of last year's AM revitalization filing window. (6/13/2017)

A silent suburban Twin Cities AM station is getting a new owner: Nevada Radio, LLC is buying KQSP/1530 (Shakopee) from Yong W. Kim's Broadcast One, Inc. for $200,000. KQSP went off the air last October, citing financial reasons, and must return to the air by this October to retain its license. It had most recently carried a Tropical format as "La Picosa." KQSP is licensed for 8.6kW daytime but only 10 Watts at night from a two-tower directional array near the Minnesota River in Chanhassen. Nevada Radio, LLC owns one AM station in Nevada and is held by Floyd Brown of Anthem, AZ, and Fred Weinberg of Washoe Valley, NV. (6/13/2017)

Minnesota Public Radio has signed on one of its two new stations in the Duluth area. After about five days of broadcasts, MPR formally announced the sign-on Monday (6/12) of KZIO/104.3 (Two Harbors-Duluth) carrying "The Current" Adult Alternative network. Translator K231BI/94.1 (Duluth), which had previously relayed KZIO, remains silent, but MPR says in a press release that 94.1 will begin carrying The Current later this summer. KZIO has used a translator for most of its existence because its 50kW signal, originating from a tower just east of Duluth, suffers greatly from Duluth's hilly topography and intermodulation interference.

No announcement has been made regarding the future of original Current translator W215CG/90.9 (Duluth), which uses 99 Watts and has a smaller coverage area than 250-Watt K231BI. Both transmit from the Duluth antenna farm. The Current's updated logo for Duluth includes 94.1 and 104.3, but not 90.9. W215CG programming originates on the HD2 channel of WSCN/100.5 (Cloquet-Duluth).

The Current is planning a station event in Duluth in July. (6/10/2017, updated 6/12)

Two days after Citytv announced an expansion of its local news programming, CTV has announced an expansion of its own that will bring 5 p.m. TV news back to Manitoba. Ten CTV owned-and-operated stations will add 5 p.m. newscasts by fall, including CTV Winnipeg (CKY/7) and CTV Northern Ontario (seen on CHBX/2 Sault Ste. Marie and others). While 5 p.m. has long been a standard time for news in the U.S., there hasn't been a TV newscast at that time in Manitoba since CBC-TV moved its local newscast to 6 p.m. two years ago. (6/7/2017)

Armada Media's Radio Results Network has asked the FCC to let it drop power at one of its stations in the Upper Peninsula in an effort to gain approval of the purchase of another station. Armada is seeking FCC approval to buy WMXG/106.3 (Stephenson) to add to its Escanaba group, which has four existing FM stations. Armada had originally argued that the area had the 30 signals required under ownership rules to allow one company to own five FM signals, but the FCC's Audio Division disagreed with that assessment, according to a new filing from another Armada station. Armada's WCMM/102.5 (Gulliver) has requested special temporary authority to drop from 100kW to 60kW, slightly weakening its signal to Escanaba and removing city-grade overlap with WMXG. WCMM has separately applied to use the 60kW facility permanently. WCMM's STA filing says that Armada believes it will be in compliance with ownership rules for the WMXG purchase of WCMM is weakened. WCMM carries a Country format known as "The Moose," while Armada is programming a Classic Country format on WMXG as "The Maverick" under a local marketing agreement. (6/6/2017)

Citytv has announced plans to resume local newscasts in Winnipeg as part of a national expansion of the CityNews brand. Citytv Winnipeg (CHMI-DT Portage la Prairie) will air hour-long newscasts at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. starting Sept. 4. Citytv Winnipeg had canceled its evening newscasts about a decade ago but continued to have a news department until ending the Winnipeg version of Breakfast Television two years ago. As noted by, Rogers posted jobs for photojournalists in Winnipeg a few weeks ago. CityNews will be the fourth English-language TV news department in Winnipeg, joining CTV News (CKY), Global Winnipeg (CKND), and CBC (CBWT). CityNews will compete with all three stations at 6:00, but will be the only full-length newscast starting at 11:00. (6/5/2017)

Midwest Communications is spinning off two northeastern Minnesota stations it bought last year from Red Rock Radio. It'll sell WXXZ/95.3 (Grand Marais) and KAOD/106.7 (Babbitt), as well as KAOD translator W288AI/105.5 (Ely), to Aurora Broadcasting LLC for $75,000. Aurora is headed by Matt Butler, who formerly worked at WELY in Ely and says the stations will be "very local and unique." The stations currently relay Midwest's KQDS-FM/94.9 (Duluth). (6/5/2017)

Get ready for the next round of new FM signals: The FCC says it will begin taking applications for new FM translators to relay AM signals on July 26. The opportunity follows up on a window last year that allowed existing translators to be moved up to 250 miles. Once again, class C and D stations will get first crack since they have the weakest signals (AM class C's are the 1kW stations transmitting on 1230, 1240, 1340, 1400, 1450, and 1490, while class D's are those that use less than 250 Watts at night). The first round of applicants will get an opportunity to amend their proposed facilities to resolve any conflicts before the larger class A and B AM stations can apply. Despite the rush of new translators in the past few years, a majority of AM stations still do not have an FM translator. However, with the recent sign-on of new translators and low-power FM stations, the dial in large cities like Minneapolis and Milwaukee is likely too crowded for any new translators with full-market coverage. (6/1/2017)

A northeastern Nebraska radio station is among nine nationwide that Cochise Broadcasting will surrender as part of a consent decree. KHSK/100.9 (Allen, NE) and others in Wyoming, Montana, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona will either be donated to non-profit groups or have their license returned to the FCC; the FCC also may seek Tribal Nations interested in acquiring the stations if Cochise doesn't find donees. The move comes after the FCC analyzed its records and found that many of the Cochise stations had sought repeated periods of silence in their last license period, with some stations only on the air for a few days per year to retain their license.

FCC filings indicate College Creek Media originally signed on KHSK in October 2008, using 10kW, but immediately took it silent, citing financial problems resulting from the economic downturn. A tornado destroyed its tower in July 2009. Cochise bought the station later in 2009 and was granted special temporary authority to use 10 Watts, which was extended numerous times over a five-year period until KHSK upgraded to the currently-licensed 100 Watts in 2014. It then went silent this March, citing the FCC's lack of action on its license renewal application. The station's recent programming is not known; it had been included in the legal ID for KOMJ/1490 (Omaha) before Cochise sold KOMJ.

Though KHSK is currently licensed for just 100 Watts, it has in the past had construction permits for a class C3 facility that would have provided rimshot coverage of Sioux City, Iowa, and Vermillion, South Dakota. (5/31/2017)

Canadian regulators have approved a plan for a new FM station to carry CBC Radio One on the north shore of Lake Superior. As previously reported here, the new CBLM-FM will broadcast on 107.5 with 3.935kW/280m (class B), using an existing CBC tower located in Neys Provincial Park west of Marathon. It will replace existing low-power AM repeaters in Marathon and Terrace Bay. (5/31/2017)

After more than a decade as "Q98-5," NRG Media's KQKQ/98.5 (Council Bluffs-Omaha) has returned to its "Sweet" branding. The change came Friday (5/26) to kick off the Memorial Day weekend. Though the format remains Hot Adult Contemporary, many of the station's current listeners likely have good memories of the "Sweet" name from KQKQ's Top 40 heyday in the 1980's and 1990's. The station switched from "Sweet" to "Q" with a Modern Adult Contemporary format in 2004 after facing tough competition from "Channel 94-1" (KQCH Omaha). (5/27/2017)

The only local radio station in the small southwestern North Dakota town of Bowman is getting new local owners. JAK Communications LLC is buying KPOK/1340 from Tri-State Communications for $125,000. JAK is owned by Angela Headley of Bowman (50%), Karen Paulson of Bowman (25%), and Haley Sabe of Scranton (25%). KPOK carries a Country format with programming from Westwood One and USA Radio News. The only other stations serving Bowman are two local FM translators and a handful of fringe signals. (5/25/2017)

Northland College is shutting down WRNC-LP/97.7 (Ashland) as it deals with budget issues. The 100-Watt station had signed on in 2005, carrying student and community programming. Northland once had a construction permit to replace the LPFM station with a 6kW (class A) station, but opted not to build it before the permit expired. The Ashland area is also served by two full-power Wisconsin Public Radio stations that signed on within the past six years. (5/24/2017)

New translator K295CB/106.9 (Des Moines) has signed on relaying Birach Broadcasting's KXLQ/1490 (Indianola). K295CB is owned by Youngers Colorado Broadcasting and transmits with 132 Watts from a site on the northeast side of Des Moines. KXLQ had previously carried a Sports format, but reception reports indicate it and the translator are now carrying a Spanish-language format. (5/23/2017)

Translator W231DL/94.1 (Onalaska-La Crosse) has signed on relaying the Catholic format of WKBH/1570 (Holmen-La Crosse). W231DL transmits from WKBH's tower in Onalaska with 250 Watts, with a fringe signal to La Crosse. Station owner Starboard Media moved the translator permit up from Iowa during last year's AM revitalization filing window. (5/23/2017)

Former Rock outlet WMZK/104.1 (Merrill-Wausau) has returned to the air as WXVM, carrying non-commercial Christian teaching and preaching from WRVM/102.7 (Suring). The station had been mostly silent since WRVM, Inc. closed on its deal to buy it from Quicksilver Broadcasting in late January. It told the FCC in a February filing that "transmitter and antenna conditions were significantly worse than we were aware at consummation." WRVM bought WMZK and WJMT/730 (Merrill) from Quicksilver for $260,000, spinning WJMT off to Sunrise Broadcasting for $75,000. WRVM is also in the process of selling translator W267BB/101.3 (Wausau) to one of the parent organizations of Wisconsin Public Radio for $46,000. (5/23/2017)

One year after buying it, the Educational Media Foundation is selling KRNQ/96.3 (Keokuk) to Community Broadcasting for $125,000. The buyer will carry Christian programming from its Bott Radio Network on KRNQ. EMF retains KOKX-FM/95.3 (Keokuk), which it bought at the same time as KRNQ and is used to carry the K-Love network. (5/18/2017)

KZIO/104.3 (Two Harbors) and translator K231BI/94.1 (Duluth) have gone off the air after Minnesota Public Radio closed on its purchase of the stations from Red Rock Radio on Monday (5/15). KZIO had carried a Hard Rock format since 2003, first as "X106" (named for its original translator frequency) and then "94X," acting as a flanker for former sister Classic Rock station KQDS-FM/94.9 (Duluth). An FCC application to make KZIO a satellite of KCMP/89.3 (Northfield), the flagship of MPR's "Current" Adult Alternative service, remains pending. (5/16/2017)

Longtime Duluth radio personality Pat Cadigan has died at the age of 81 after a short illness. Cadigan had been the morning co-host at KDAL/610 since 1982 and was also one of the Northland's first rock-n-roll DJ's. He wrote in his KDAL bio that he got the chance to start spinning rock records on WDSM/710 (Superior-Duluth) in the late 1950's because NBC discontinued its evening radio lineup. He also worked at stations including WEBC/560, the defunct WQMN/1320 (Duluth), and KLIZ/1380 (Brainerd) before first joining KDAL in 1961. He also served as emcee for the Chmielewski Fun Time Orchestra in the 1960's and early 1970's, including appearances on their syndicated TV show. Cadigan had also continued to host the "Midwest Polka Party" Saturday mornings on KDAL. Listeners have been sharing their memories on KDAL's Facebook page. (5/15/2017)

Canadian regulators have approved the shutdown of CTV repeaters CHBX-TV-1 (Ch. 7, Wawa, ON) and CKYS (Ch. 11, Snow Lake, MB) as part of license renewal for CTV parent Bell Media. CHBX-TV-1 was licensed for 66.4kW, serving a sizeable area north of Lake Superior Provincial Park. CKYS used just 19 Watts in a rural area of northern Manitoba. The shutdowns leave the communities without any broadcast TV service after the CBC's shutdown of rural transmitters several years ago. Bell had told the CRTC that the transmitters, which are among 40 being shut down nationwide, had little to no viewership due to the high usage of cable and satellite services. (5/15/2017)

In a rare move, the FCC has cancelled the license of Mount Rushmore Broadcasting's KAWK/105.1 (Custer), saying it has determined the station's license actually expired as a matter of law in 2009.

In a certified letter to the station, the FCC's Media Bureau details KAWK's series of requests for special temporary authority dating back to 2002, when the station told the FCC it had been forced to vacate its licensed tower site on Mount Coolidge in Custer State Park. The station had authority to use an alternate site for several years, but the FCC says KAWK neglected to reapply for use of the alternate site when it returned from a period of silence in 2009.

In a letter responding to the FCC's inquiry last year, Mount Rushmore Broadcasting said it "assumed that once the site and facilities had been approved on a temporary basis, they could be used again on a temporary basis." The FCC said in its cancellation letter that this is not the case, and that it is the licensee's responsibility to understand FCC regulations.

KAWK had been licensed for 7kW/400m (class C1) from Mount Coolidge, providing a rimshot signal to Rapid City, but filings indicate the facility was only active from 1997 to 2002.

Mount Rushmore Broadcasting, owned by Jan Charles Gray, also owns KFCR/1490 (Custer), KZMX/580 (Hot Springs), KZMX-FM/96.7 (Hot Springs), and several stations in Wyoming. Filings indicate KFCR and KZMX(AM) are currently silent. Last year, the FCC granted only a two-year license renewal for KFCR, KZMX, KZMX-FM, and two stations in Wyoming, saying at that time that the company's "conduct has fallen far short of that which would warrant routine license renewal." (5/12/2017)

With a format change pending at their previous Duluth affiliate, the Minnesota Wild are moving to a new home. The NHL team has signed a three-year deal with Midwest Communications' WDSM/710 (Superior-Duluth) and FM translator W251CD/98.1 (Superior-Duluth). WDSM carries a News/Talk format and also carries the Packers and Badgers. The Wild's previous affiliate was "92.1 The Fan" (WWAX Hermantown-Duluth) but its contract expired at the end of the 2016-2017 season; the "94X" simulcast of KZIO/104.3 (Two Harbors) and K231BI/94.1 (Duluth) had carried some spillover games when WWAX had other obligations. (5/12/2017, corrected info on former affiliate 5/15)

Wisconsin Public Radio will air a series of four pilot programs over the next month as part of its WPR NEXT initiative. The programs are called Because Science, BETA, Entertain Us and Wisconsin Life Weekend. The programs will first air May 15 to 18 at 6 p.m. on the Ideas Network and at 7 p.m. on the NPR News and Classical Music Network. They'll then air weekends over the next month at 10 a.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. Sundays on the Ideas Network, and at 3 p.m. Sundays on the NPR News and Classical Music Network. More information on the programs and schedule is available at (5/12/2017)

Broadcaster Mike Flood has announced plans to launch Telemundo Nebraska on several low-power TV stations in the Lincoln-Tri Cities market this summer. Telemundo Nebraska is expected to launch in mid-June on KFDY-LD/26 (Lincoln), and will later be added on KMLF-LD (Grand Island) and KMJF-LD (Columbus). By mid-summer, the channel is expected to carry a 10 p.m. weeknight newscast produced by bilingual reporters in Lincoln, Grand Island, Columbus, and Schuyler. The reporters have already been posting reports on Facebook. Flood also owns Spanish-language radio station "Lobo 97-7" (KBBX Nebraska City), which delivers city-grade coverage to Lincoln and Omaha. KMLF-LD and KMJF-LD also carry Flood's English-language News Channel Nebraska service. (5/9/2017)

Sinclair Broadcast Group may end up owning two of the "big four" network affiliates in Des Moines and a triopoly in Milwaukee under a $3.9 billion purchase of Tribune Media, which was announced Monday. Tribune's stations in the region include WITI (FOX-Milwaukee), WQAD (ABC-Quad Cities), and WHO-TV (NBC-Des Moines). Among others, Sinclair's existing holdings include KDSM (FOX-Des Moines), WVTV (CW-Milwaukee), and WCGV (My-Milwaukee). Sinclair's CEO Chris Ripley said during a conference call Monday that the company doesn't think it will be required to sell any of the stations in the 14 markets where the two companies overlap, but said the St. Louis, Salt Lake City, and Wilkes Barre markets are the places most likely to trigger regulatory concerns. Sinclair does already run multiple "big four" affiliates in some markets through various legal means, including an outsourcing agreement in Cedar Rapids. If approved, the acquisition would give Sinclair coverage of 72 percent of households in the country, far more than any other group. (5/8/2017)

A North Dakota AM station wants to give up its 50kW daytime signal and end its rare setup of using separate day and night transmission sites. iHeartMedia's KXMR/710 (Bismarck) currently uses 50kW day and 13kW critical hours* from a site along I-94 east of Bismarck, and then 4kW night from a site south of the city near the Missouri River. It's applied to use the 4kW facility both day and night with the same directional antenna pattern. The 50kW facility, which recently suffered several modules burned beyond repair, would be silenced. Despite the power reduction, the KXMR would still have a large daytime coverage area due to North Dakota's high ground conductivity. KXMR carries a Sports format as "FOX Sports 710." (*Critical hours are the hours after sunrise and before sunset.) (5/4/2017)

New 250-Watt translator K264CP/100.7 (Rapid City) has signed on, relaying the News/Talk format of KOTA/1380. Owner Duhamel Broadcasting moved the translator construction permit east from Wyoming during last year's AM revitalization filing window. With K264CP's sign-on, all four of the Rapid City-licensed AM stations now have FM translators. It's the 30th FM signal (full-power, low-power, translator, or booster) licensed to Rapid City, which has far more FM licenses than any other Upper Midwest city. (5/3/2017)

Red Rock Radio has sold its last station: KRBT/1340 (Eveleth) is going to a new company called Range Broadcasting for $20,000, according to an asset purchase agreement filed with the FCC. Range Broadcasting is owned by Dennis Yourczek of Virginia, who has no other broadcast interests. KRBT carries a Sports format. Its former FM partner, WEVE/97.9 (Eveleth), was sold to Midwest Communications. As documented here over the past year, Red Rock once owned 25 stations but sold them to eight separate buyers; the last several sales remain pending. Red Rock is a sister company to KQDS Acquisition Corp. and Red River Broadcast Co., which run the FOX affiliates in the Duluth and Fargo markets and the NBC-TV affiliate in Sioux Falls. (5/3/2017)

KCPM/27 (Grand Forks) is off the air, but continues to provide a cable feed, as it awaits completion of a new fiber connection to its transmitter. The station said in a notification of suspension of operations earlier this year that it went silent at the end of January due to "a problem relative to program delivery." Last summer, the station, owned by Charles Poppen's G.I.G. of North Dakota LLC, had sought special temporary authority to stay on the air while the FCC considers license renewal. According to a June 2016 letter from the FCC's Media Bureau, KCPM's 2014 license renewal application was not filed until after the license had expired. The station said in response that the filing was late due to Poppen's health issues and the company's financial inability to retain professional assistance to aid in the renewal. The application remains pending. MyNetworkTV lists KCPM as an affiliate and CableOne listings indicate the station is carried on channel 27 in Fargo. However, it is no longer listed on Midcontinent Cable's lineups for Grand Forks or Fargo. (5/2/2017)

After 18 years with Red Rock Radio, Shawn Skramstad has joined Midwest Communications' Duluth group as vice president and market manager. The move reunites Skramstad, Red Rock's former president, with many former co-workers who moved to Midwest when it bought KQDS-FM/94.9 from Red Rock.

"Getting to the manager’s chair at Midwest Communications Duluth has been a process that has taken some time as I have been involved with the sale of the Red Rock stations. I have been looking forward to joining Midwest with their fine staff and working again with many of the people I worked with at Red Rock," Skramstad said in a news release.

Skramstad's new position was effective May 1, the same day Twin Ports Radio LLC took over operations of Red Rock's WWAX/92.1 (Hermantown-Duluth) and KQDS/1490 (Duluth) while it awaits FCC approval of the purchase. Last week, the FCC approved Minnesota Public Radio's purchase of KZIO/104.3 (Two Harbors) and translator K231BI/94.1 (Duluth) from Red Rock. KZIO continued to carry Red Rock's "94X" Hard Rock format as of Monday evening, but an FCC filing indicated that KZIO will eventually carry MPR's "The Current" Adult Alternative network.

Red Rock has just one station left (KRBT/1340 Eveleth) after selling 24 stations to 7 different buyers. (5/1/2017)

91.5 in western Manitoba officially switched from the NCI-FM network to "Q Country" (CKLQ-FM Brandon) on Thursday (4/27) at 4:15 p.m. CKLQ-FM assumed the 100kW/326m facility formerly used by CIWM-FM (Brandon). From a legal standpoint, CKLQ-FM is the same license as the former CKLQ/880, with the longtime 10kW AM facility remaining on the air as a rebroadcasting transmitter. The NCI-FM network, carrying a Country-based format for First Nations communities, moved CIWM-FM to 107.5 with 2.7kW. The lower power will cut down operating expenses for NCI. For Westman Media's CKLQ, the addition of the FM signal helps it compete with Bell Media's "101.1 The Farm" (CKXA-FM Brandon). (4/28/2017)

Bruce Linder is exiting from ownership of the O-Town Communications radio group in Ottumwa, selling his interest in the company to his partner. Greg List will pay Linder $1 million for his 51 percent interest in the company, according to a stock purchase agreement filed with the FCC. The group includes Adult Contemporary KTWA/92.7 (Ottumwa), Contemporary Hits "97.7 Tom FM" (KOTM Ottumwa), Classic Rock "101.5 Kiss FM" (KKSI Eddyville-Ottumwa), "New Country 104.3" (KRKN Eldon-Ottumwa), News/Talk KBIZ/1240 (Ottumwa), Oldies KLEE/1480 (Ottumwa), and FM translators relaying KBIZ and KLEE. (4/27/2017)

The owner of WIWN/68.1 (Fond du Lac-Milwaukee) is buying a Class A TV station in Milwaukee. According to an asset purchase agreement filed with the FCC, Milwaukee Media LLC will pay LocusPoint Networks LLC $650,000 for WMKE-CD (Milwaukee). WMKE-CD currently transmits on channel 21 with 15kW, the maximum for a Class A station, and will be moved to channel 36 as part of the spectrum auction repack. WWAZ, though licensed to Fond du Lac, transmits from the Milwaukee antenna farm on RF channel 5. Milwaukee Media is 30 percent owned by companies held by several Milwaukee-area residents, and 70 percent owned by a California-based company. WIWN carries Sonlife Broadcast Network on its main channel and LATV and home shopping programming on its subchannels; WMKE-CD carries the Rev'n network. (4/27/2017)

Dozens of Upper Midwest low-power TV stations are changing hands in a $72 million national deal to sell stations held by various companies using the EICB-TV name to Edge Spectrum, Inc. The buyer's website says it is "building a new nationwide wireless network" and touts its service as an alternative to distribution of content by wired computer networks. Stations that are part of the deal include:

IA: K22LJ-D (Mason City), K27MI-D (Mason City), K38OW-D (Mason City), K45LM-D (Sioux City)
MN: K24JU-D (Alexandria), K40LT-D (Alexandria), K26KF-D (Duluth), K35JN-D (Duluth), K46MH-D (Duluth), KHVM-LD/48 (Minneapolis), KTCJ-LD/50 (Minneapolis), K31LN-D (Rochester), K15IS-D (Willmar)
NE: K15JK-D (Beatrice-Fairbury), K46MB-D (Columbus), K36MO-D (Lincoln), K49LK-D (North Platte)
ND: K34LO-D (Bismarck), K43JQ-D (Bismarck), K42IM-D (Minot), K41LR-D (Fargo), K46KY-D (Fargo)
SD: K22KD-D (Sioux Falls)
WI: W21DH-D (Eau Claire), W19DP-D (La Crosse), W36EI-D (Wausau)

It appears some of the stations, such as those in Duluth, are not currently transmitting, though the Minneapolis stations are on the air. (4/27/2017)

WISN-TV/12 (ABC, Milwaukee), KCCI/8 (CBS, Des Moines), and KETV/7 (ABC, Omaha) are back on DISH Network after a seven-week outage due to a retransmission consent dispute. The outage, which began March 3, had affected Hearst stations in 26 markets. The restoration came hours before the start of Nielsen's May ratings period. The DISH outage began just two months after a similar dispute with DirecTV. (4/26/2017)

The University of Northwestern-St. Paul is poised to bring its "Faith Radio" network to the Bismarck area after buying a station from the Educational Media Foundation. Northwestern will pay $50,000 for KLBF/89.1 (Lincoln-Bismarck), which is EMF's third signal in the area. A main studio waiver request filed with the FCC requests that KLBF become a satellite of KTIS/900 (Minneapolis), which is the flagship of the "Faith Radio" Christian talk and preaching network. Bismarck would be the only community where Northwestern offers "Faith Radio" but not a local Contemporary Christian format. Christian music formats are already available locally from longtime local Christian outlet KNDR-FM/104.7 and EMF's "K-Love" and "Air-1" networks. (4/26/2017)

One of the parent organizations of Wisconsin Public Radio is buying an FM translator in Wausau from Christian broadcaster WRVM, Inc. The Wisconsin Educational Communications Board will pay $46,000 for W267BB/101.3, which WRVM no longer needs after buying WMZK/104.1 (Merrill-Wausau). The FCC application to transfer the license states that the buyer will upgrade W267BB to 250 Watts and use it to relay the HD3 signal of WHRM/90.9 (Wausau), which carries WPR's Ideas Network. The Ideas Network is already heard on 54-Watt WLBL-FM/91.9 (Wausau), but WLBL-FM has a rare share-time agreement with WXPW/91.9 (Wausau) in which the broadcast week is divided evenly between the two stations. WXPW, which relays WXPR/91.7 (Rhinelander), uses the frequency weeknights from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m., all day Saturday, and Sundays until 5 p.m. (4/24/2017)

A Milwaukee-area frequency that was once set to be used by a religious low-power FM station may end up being used by a commercial broadcaster instead. Souls Harbor Baptist Church has relinquished its construction permit for WBVW-LP/92.9, telling the FCC that the church has decided not to build the station. Meanwhile, Tomsun Media has applied to move a future translator for its WTKM/1540 (Hartford) to the Milwaukee suburb of Menomonee Falls, a move made possible by WBVW-LP's cancellation and the FCC's recent rule change allowing FM translators to be built farther away from the parent station in some cases. The translator, currently licensed as W259AO/99.7 (Saukville), was originally slated to move to WTKM's transmitter site south of Hartford with 250 Watts. From Menomonee Falls, the translator would use 200 Watts and deliver a good signal to northwest suburban areas of Milwaukee, with fringe coverage of the city itself. WTKM currently carries an Oldies format. Neither the church's letter nor Tomsun's application states whether the two parties have any agreement. (4/23/2017)

KBPG/89.5 (Montevideo) has switched from American Family Radio, a national Christian network, to Real Presence Radio, a regional Catholic network. The change follows the station's sale from the American Family Assoication to Real Presence Radio. (4/23/2017)

A local owner is buying Red Rock Radio's remaining two stations in the Duluth market. Twin Ports Radio, LLC, headed by Daniel Hatfield, is buying "92.1 The Fan" (WWAX Hermantown-Duluth) and "Red Zone Sports Radio" (KQDS/1490 Duluth) for $200,000, according to an asset purchase agreement filed with the FCC. Hatfield also heads the regional non-commercial "Refuge" Christian network, with flagship WJRF/89.5 (Duluth). He says the stations, which compete with larger groups owned by Midwest Communications and Townsquare Media, will retain the "Fan" brand and Sports programming and will co-locate with WJRF in Duluth's East Hillside. WWAX has been located in the Paulucci bulding near the city's iconic Aerial Lift Bridge since its 1996 launch. The buyer will take over the stations through a time brokerage agreement on May 1 and will have to change 1490's callsign.

Red Rock has been selling off its stations over the past year, with only KRBT/1340 (Eveleth) remaining unsold after this and six other transactions. Locally, the company sold KQDS-FM/94.9 (Duluth) to Midwest, which is located in the Tech Village downtown, and is in the process of selling KZIO/104.3 (Two Harbors-Duluth) to Minnesota Public Radio, which has told the FCC that KZIO will not have a local studio when it switches to the "Current" Adult Alternative network.

Kalil & Co. represented Red Rock Radio, and Steve Moravec of Phoenix Media Group, LLC assisted Twin Ports Radio. (4/19/2017)

The University of Minnesota's journalism school will be known as the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication effective July 1, honoring the family that founded and continues to own and operate St. Paul-based Hubbard Broadcasting Inc. The name recognizes not only donations from the Hubbards, but also the family's groundbreaking work in electronic journalism and a close relationship between the U's journalism program and Hubbard stations.

"As a successful radio pioneer, my father and our founder, Stanley E. Hubbard, was one of the first people to recognize that television could also become an important news medium," said Stanley S. Hubbard, chairman and chief executive officer of Hubbard Broadcasting. "With that recognition, KSTP became the first locally-owned television station in America to provide daily news programs beginning back in 1948. This recognition, provided by one of America’s great schools of journalism, honors the memory of Stanley E. Hubbard in a way which will make all who have been involved from ‘day one’ at KSTP-TV, and all of Hubbard Broadcasting, with local news production forever appreciative."

Stanley E. Hubbard started KSTP predecessor WAMD ("Where All Minneapolis Dances") in 1925, just a few years after the journalism school launched. The company added KSTP-TV in 1948, launched more stations, and pioneered new forms of satellite broadcasting for newsgathering through CONUS and direct-to-home reception through United States Satellite Broadcasting. Hubbard Broadcasting Inc. now owns TV stations in six markets, radio stations in eight rated markets and several unrated markets, the national Reelz channel, and F&F Productions. (4/19/2017)

Q Media Properties has launched "Pine Hits 106" on newly-moved FM translator W293DA/106.5 (Pine City), originating on WCMP/1350. Liners on the new Classic Hits format, which launched earlier this month, promote musical overlap WCMP's previous Soft Oldies format, though songs like "Livin' on a Prayer" might be a bit if a surprise for the AM audience. "Pine Hits 106" primarily competes for listenership with longtime Classic Hits outlet "Kool 108" (KQQL/107.9 Anoka-Minneapolis). The translator was moved south as a result of last year's AM revitalization window; it was previously Refuge Radio translator W264CX/100.7 (Virginia). W293DA transmits from the WCMP-FM/100.9 tower near Beroun and has a listenable signal along I-35 from about Harris to Askov. WCMP-FM carries "Cool Country." (4/16/2017)

Five TV stations in southern Wisconsin and one in western Minnesota have been chosen to surrender bandwidth under the FCC's spectrum auction. Milwaukee will see, by far, the biggest change in the Upper Midwest after four stations agreed to surrender their UHF spectrum for a total of more than $315 million. It appears most or all of the companies selling spectrum in the region will continue to offer programming through channel sharing arrangements, which allow a station to rent space from another station to maintain its license and must-carry rights. Here are the winning bidders:

WMVT 36.1 Milwaukee (PBS, Milwaukee Area Tech College): $84,931,314 to take its RF channel 35 transmitter off the air. WMVT's post-auction application indicated it would not channel share, but MATC also owns WMVS-TV Milwaukee.

WCGV 24.1 Milwaukee (MNT, Sinclair Broadcast Group): $84,317,523 to take its RF channel 25 transmitter off the air. WCGV indicated it will channel-share; Sinclair also owns WVTV Milwaukee.

WVCY-TV 30.1 Milwaukee (Christian, VCY America): $76,342,409 to take its RF channel 22 transmitter off the air. The station indicated it will channel-share.

WMLW-TV 49.1 Racine-Milwaukee (Independent, Weigel Broadcasting): $69,662,432 to take its RF channel 48 transmitter off the air. WMLW indicated it will channel-share; Weigel also owns WDJT Milwaukee.

WISC-TV 3.1 Madison (CBS, Morgan Murphy Media): $48,929,182 to move from UHF channel 50 to VHF channel 11. The move will restore the status WISC had in the analog era of being the only VHF station in the market.

KCCO-TV 7.1 Alexandria, MN (CBS owned-and-operated satellite of WCCO-TV Minneapolis): $9,987,598 to take its RF channel 7 transmitter off the air. KCCO indicated it will channel-share.

Here is a link to the full list of winning bidders nationwide. Stations engaging in channel-sharing will now have to file applications with the FCC to specify their sharing partner. (4/13/2017)

While only a half-dozen Upper Midwest stations surrendered bandwidth in the spectrum auction, dozens more will be required to change channels as part of the national repack. Every station transmitting on channel 38 and up has to move down, and many more stations must move within their existing band to allow moves elsewhere. Not surprisingly, Wisconsin will see a lot of channel changes due to its proximity to Chicago -- all but one station in Milwaukee will change channels. Conversely, South Dakota will see only one change, since it has only one full-power station above channel 36. Here's the full list of channel changes in the Upper Midwest. (4/13/2017)

"The Doc" is in: Townsquare Media has launched a Variety Hits format called "The Doc" on KDCZ/103.9 (Eyota-Rochester), with A "musical doctor" playing on the city's medical identity. RadioInsight reports the new format launched at 7:30 a.m. Thursday (4/13). KDCZ had simulcast "Z-Rock" with KDZZ/107.7 (St. Charles-Rochester) since 2010, which reassured listeners that the Hard Rock format will continue on 107.7. Both Class A stations transmit from the same tower east of Rochester and have nearly identical coverage areas, though 103.9 is a few Watts weaker. (4/13/2017)

It's official: "Rob FM" is on the air in the Corridor. The broad Classic Rock format originates on KZIA-HD2 (Cedar Rapids) and is relayed on K236AA/95.1 (Cedar Rapids) and K253BE/98.5 (Iowa City). The translators began running the format in early March and a writeup on All Access confirms the format's permanence. K236AA was formerly a longtime Christian radio translator, while K253BE is a new signal. (4/12/2017)

Forum Communications stations WDAY-TV/6 (Fargo) and WDAZ/8 (Devils Lake-Grand Forks) have added Ion on their DT4 channels. The stations, which are primary ABC affiliates, also carry Justice Network on DT2 and an independent lineup on DT3. Ion has not previously been seen over the air in Fargo or Grand Forks. (4/11/2017)

Evanov Radio Group is seeking CRTC approval to move CKJS/810 (Winnipeg) to the FM band, a move it says is necessary for the Ethnic station to reverse a problem of declining revenues. CKJS would move to 92.7 and use 35kW/154m (class B) from a Rogers Communications tower south of the city. The AM signal would simulcast the FM signal for three months and then go silent, joining three other Winnipeg AM signals that have gone silent in the past quarter-century. The move would also likely force a new CKJS competitor, Baldev Gill's 50-Watt "Awaz 92.9" (CKYZ-FM), to change frequency. Evanov declined to publicly release a complete financial report, but did state that CKJS revenue has been declining by 3 percent in the last four years and that its two FM sister stations (CFJL-FM/100.5 and CHWE-FM/106.1) have also seen declining revenues. Although Evanov is already at the market cap of two commercial FM stations, it says the proposed combination is allowed by law because CKJS is licensed as an ethnic, rather than commercial, station. The application is due to be considered at a June 15 CRTC hearing in Gatineau, Quebec. CKJS offers programming in 16 third-languages, primarily Tagalog and Punjabi, and also currently has six hours of English-language Christian programming each weekday. (4/10/2017)

Legacy Communications has launched two new HD Radio/translator formats in Grand Island. According to RadioInsight, Rock-formatted "Thunder 99.7" launched last week and Classic Country station "103.5 The Legend" launched this week. "Thunder," which is a revival of a format that aired on KJKK/103.1 (Ravenna-Grand Island), airs on the HD2 signal of KRGI-FM/96.5 and translator K259CZ/99.7. "The Legend" airs on KRGI-FM-HD4 and K278BR/103.5, working in tandem with the mainstream Country format on KRGI-FM's main channel. Legacy bought both translators from Community Broadcasting, which no longer needed them after signing on KCVG/89.9 (Hastings-Grand Island) to carry Bott Radio Network in the area. The two new formats join "La Gran D," which runs on KRGI-FM-HD3 and K227BQ/93.3. (4/4/2017)

Armada Media's Radio Results Network has launched "The Maverick" on WMXG/106.3 (Stephenson-Escanaba), featuring Classic Country from the 1970's to the 1990's. Monday's format debut came after a weekend of stunting with all-Elvis music. Radio Results Network parent AMC Partners Escanaba, LLC is in the process of buying WMXG from Escanaba License Corp., which is held by the Estate of Lyle Evans, and is already operating the station under a local marketing agreement. The station had been off the air or at reduced power for much of the past five years, according to FCC filings. Armada also uses the "Maverick" branding and format on WTIQ/1490 (Manistique). (4/3/2017)

A big AM signal in the Red River Valley has a new callsign: KVOX/740 (Fargo) is now KNFL. FCC records indicate the change was effective March 29. The callsign, which matches the Sports "Fan" format that continues on the station, became available when a station in Idaho dropped it in early March. The KVOX callsign continues on KVOX-FM/99.9 (Moorhead-Fargo), which is also owned by Midwest. KVOX uses 50kW during the day and 940 Watts at night. (4/3/2017)

New station WPAK-FM/106.9 (Tigerton) is now on the air full-time but has not settled on a permanent format. Multi-Cultural Diversity Radio's new class A station uses 3.5kW/132m directional from a tower in the Town of Marion, delivering a good signal to Clintonville, rimshot coverage of Waupaca, and a fringe signal to Shawano. WPAK-FM is running historical features on area communities along with short comedy pieces, and soliciting input from listeners. (4/3/2017)

News archive...

Newspaper/Web Articles

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: WISN-TV shuffles its weekday morning, weekend news anchors (6/23)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: WRIT-FM makes it 25 straight months at No. 1 overall in Milwaukee radio (5/18)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee CBS affiliate WDJT-TV names a new news director (5/12)
Omaha World-Herald: Spanish language broadcasts of state soccer tournament a hit with Hispanic communities (5/11)
Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier: Reporter cited for Chris Soules video (5/2)
Duluth News Tribune: The Fan 92.1 being sold to new local owner (5/1)
Star Tribune: Longtime anchor Tim McNiff to return to KARE 11 'Sunrise' on Tuesday (4/28)
Star Tribune: Ex-Tom Barnard sidekick Terri Traen no longer working at KQRS (4/25)
Obituary: Michael Phillips, former Eau Claire radio owner and WDGY's "Charlie Van Dyke" (4/16)
Star Tribune: MPR to name its headquarters after founder Bill Kling (4/14)
New York Post: Pranksters sued by TV company over WEAU morning show antics (4/13)
Des Moines Register: Longtime Des Moines radio personality Pam Dixon to retire (4/10)
Omaha World-Herald: Radio host, TV weathercaster Frank Bramhall, 83, was a familiar voice in Omaha (4/7)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: WLDB-FM names new morning host, drops CV & Van (4/3)
Star Tribune: How you can cut the cord and discover TV antenna benefits (4/1)
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