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NEBRASKA: (UPDATED)
Salem Media has
announced plans to sell Contemporary Christian outlet "100.7 The Fish" (KGBI-FM Omaha) to the University of Northwestern-St. Paul. The sale price is $3.15 million, according to the asset purchase agreement filed with the FCC. UNWSP has also applied to convert KGBI-FM to non-commercial status. The deal will split KGBI from KCRO/660 and KOTK/1420 and their FM translators, which will remain owned by Salem. UNWSP operates a regional chain of non-commerical Contemporary Christian outlets, including stations in Kansas City, Des Moines, and Sioux Falls. Northwestern subsidiary UNW Media Holdings LLC is also in the process of buying KDSN AM-FM in Denison, Iowa, which is about 60 miles northeast of Omaha. (5/22/2018, updated with sale price 5/24)

IOWA/MINNESOTA/WISCONSIN:
FOX affiliate KXLT/47 (Rochester) and CW affiliate KDLH/3 (Duluth) are off DISH Network amid a dispute between the provider and station owner SagamoreHill Broadcasting. The outage began Monday evening. Each side is urging viewers to call the other site to complain. KXLT is operated by Quincy Media's KTTC (Rochester), while KDLH receives some services from Quincy's KBJR (Superior-Duluth). (KDLH is actually carried on DISH channel 11 as a result of the market's 2016 affiliation swap.) (5/22/2018)

MINNESOTA/WISCONSIN:
Quincy Media is seeking FCC approval for a Duluth duopoly. Quincy currently owns NBC/CBS affliate KBJR/6 (Superior-Duluth) and would buy CW affiliate KDLH/3 (Duluth) from SagamoreHill Broadcasting for $792,577, subject to adjustment. KDLH has been located in KBJR's building since 2005, though KDLH's longtime CBS affiliation was moved to a KBJR subchannel in 2016 when a new agreement limited KBJR's ability to sell ads on KDLH. (The 2016 agreement was needed to comply with ownership rules in place when Quincy purchased KBJR.) Since KDLH's affiliation change, Quincy says KDLH's ratings have now fallen to fifth place in the market, allowing KBJR and KDLH to be co-owned. Documents filed with the FCC say the CW affiliation is included in the deal but provide no other clues about Quincy's plans for KDLH. (5/22/2018)

NEW FM TRANSLATORS GRANTED (5/1-5/16):
The FCC began granting construction permits for new FM translators from the most recent AM revitalization window this past week but stopped issuing permits Thursday after a group of low-power FM advocates filed an informal objection to (what appears to be) every pending application for a new FM translator nationwide. First, here are those that were granted:

  • Bellevue, IA: KMAQ/1320 (Maquoketa), K223DA/92.5, 250W*
  • Carroll, IA: KCIM/1380, K236CV/94.1, 250W
  • Cedar Rapids, IA: WSUI/910 (Iowa City), K246CV/97.1, 110W
  • Centerville, IA: KCOG/1400, K257GQ/99.3, 250W*
  • Waterloo, IA: KCNZ/1650 (Cedar Falls), K272GA/102.3, 250W*
  • Ironwood, MI: WJMS/590, W221EH/92.1, 250W*
  • Aitkin, MN: KKIN/930, K276GQ/103.1, 250W
  • Baxter, MN: WWWI/1270, W242DB/96.3, 250W
  • Dilworth, MN: WZFG/1100, K222DF/92.3, 250W
  • East Grand Forks, MN: KGFK/1590, K248DH/97.5, 250W
  • Fairmont, MN: KSUM/1370, K246CW/97.1, 250W*
  • Long Prairie, MN: KEYL/1400, K276GS/103.1, 250W
  • Mankato, MN: KTOE/1420, K252GA/98.3, 250W*
  • Pipestone, MN: KLOH/1050, K231DG/94.1, 250W
  • Plymouth, MN: WCTS/1030, K250BY/97.9, 250W
  • St. Joseph, MN: KYES/1180 (Rockville), K228FV/93.5, 250W*
  • Sunburg, MN: KWLM/1340 (Willmar), K266CM/101.1, 250W
  • Falls City, NE: KTNC/1230, K296HK/107.1, 250W
  • Beulah, ND: KDKT/1410, K293CS/106.5, 250W
  • Grand Forks, ND: KNOX/1310, K277DN/103.3, 250W
  • West Fargo, ND: KFNW/1200, K273DJ/102.5, 250W
  • Pierre, SD: KGFX/1060, K276GT/103.1, 250W*
  • Winner, SD: KWYR/1260, K248DI/97.5, 250W
  • Yankton, SD: WNAX/570, K245DA/96.9, 250W
  • Waupaca, WI: WDUX/800, W264DS/100.7, 250W*

The granting came to a halt after the Center for International Media Action, Common Frequency Inc., and Prometheus Radio Project filed an informal objection to about 1,000 pending applications nationwide (those marked with an asterisk above were granted despite having objections filed against them, apparently because they were being granted the same day the objection was filed.) The petitioners allege that the applicants are required under the Local Community Radio Act of 2011 to show that there would still be room on the band for LPFM stations, but failed to do so. Being a blanket objection, the filing hits all types of groups, including both commercial and non-commercial operators, large corporations and mom-and-pop broadcasters, major market and isolated small town stations, and a few Spanish-language stations. Most of the translators subject to the informal objection were filed during this year's AM Revitalization filing window, but a few are from last year's window and some are dormant applications from 2003 that are due to go up for auction next month. The FCC dismissed the objection as moot on Tuesday, May 22.

The full list of this year's applications is posted on the 2018 AM Revitalization Translator Applications page. (5/20/2018, updated 5/23)

MINNESOTA/ONTARIO:
Two would-be Thunder Bay border blasters have received FCC permission to be constructed at much lower power, though the licensee says it intends to eventually increase the stations' power.

Multi-Cultural Diversity Radio won the stations on 92.7 and 98.1 at Grand Portage, Minn., in a 2013 FCC auction with bids of $1,400 each (the low bid prices reflected the small population on the U.S. side of the border). MCDR had originally proposed using 100kW/468m (class C) from a new tower on Mount Maud, which would have delivered a strong signal to Thunder Bay's 100,000+ residents. However, nearly five years later, the FCC had still not issued construction permits for the stations, presumably because construction of the new tower itself had not been approved.

Now, the FCC has granted initial CP's for the stations to operate with 100 Watts, the minimum allowed for full-power stations, from an existing tower, reaching the immediate Grand Portage area. Though the permitted facilities are class A, MCDR's applications stated that it intends to pursue a full class C facility asked the FCC to maintain the allocations as class C so that Canadian coordination would be maintained at that level.

Multi-Cultural Diversity Radio is headed by Samir Abumayyaleh of Minneapolis, who also owns WPAK/106.9 (Tigerton, WI).

Longtime readers may recall that a CP for 96.9 at Grand Portage was also issued in the 2013 auction. An existing tower was proposed for that station and a CP was issued promptly, but the station was not built by the three-year deadline. (5/20/2018)

SOUTH DAKOTA:
Two weeks after announcing plans to create an ABC-NBC duopoly in Sioux Falls, Gray TV has submitted documentation to the FCC explaining why it believes the number 2 and 3 stations in the market should be allowed to merge under one roof. FCC rules ban co-ownership of two top-four stations, but a recent rule change will allow waivers to be issued in some cases. This is the first such waiver sought in the Upper Midwest.

Gray owns ABC affiliate KSFY/13.1 and is seeking to buy NBC affiliate KDLT-TV/46.1 from Red River Broadcast Corp. The $32.5 million deal also includes KDLT satellite KDLV/5.1 (Mitchell) and a network of translators. Unlike "virtual duopolies" using shared service agreements or subchannel/low-power TV combinations, which have become commonplace in small markets over the past decade, this deal would result in full ownership of two full-power, core-city licenses.

Gray argues that Nexstar CBS affiliate KELO-TV has long dominated ratings and revenue in the market and that there is a "dire need for an effective competitor." Though exact figures are redacted from the multiple ownership showing submitted for public inspection, Gray says KELO has been the top-ranked news station for the entire history of Sioux Falls TV and has the market's largest news staff. In terms of revenue, Gray's filing says KELO's market share has never fallen below 56.6 percent in the past five years, while the combined share of KDLT and KSFY never exceeded 35.7 percent over that period. (Locally-owned FOX affiliate KTTW, which does not have a news department, accounts for less than 10 percent of the market's revenue.)

Gray's filing also says it is considering the creation of a state capitol news bureau to serve its stations in Sioux Falls and Rapid City, upgrades to KSFY's weather computer system and other equipment, and expanding coverage of local sports and events. It says it may add NBC to existing KSFY satellite KPRY (Pierre) and ABC to KDLV and the existing KDLT translators. The latter move would restore ABC broadcast coverage of northeastern South Dakota, which was lost when Gray returned the license of KABY/9 (Aberdeen).

The asset purchase agreement says KDLT's existing studio and a tower or towers are excluded from the deal, but it's not clear if that includes the station's main transmission tower since the section detailing excluded towers was omitted from the filing. Gray's earlier news release mentioned plans to move KDLT into KSFY's new facility. (5/17/2018)

MINNESOTA:
KZJZ/106.7 (Babbitt-Ely) and WVVE/95.3 (Grand Marais), along with translator W288AI/105.5 (Ely), have launched an Adult Alternative format. "Radio North of Ordinary" includes Minnesota artists every hour and vintage vinyl. The stations, formerly KAOD and WXXZ, had been stunting with a mix of radio-themed songs for several weeks. The change comes after Aurora Broadcasting purchased the stations last year from Midwest Communications. They had previously relayed the Classic Rock format of Midwest's KQDS-FM/94.9 (Duluth). Commercially, KZJZ's only local competitors are WELY/1450 and WELY-FM/94.5 (Ely), the latter of which recently reverted from Classic Rock to its previous broad Folk/Adult Alternative format. Minnesota Public Radio's Adult Alternative service, "The Current," also serves Ely via a translator. Meanwhile, WVVE is the only commercial radio station on the North Shore. (5/15/2018)

MINNESOTA:
United Communications' K38MY-D (St. James) has applied for an upgrade that could add Mankato coverage. United owns KEYC/12 (Mankato) and had previously used K38MY as a translator for its CBS/FOX affiliate KEYC/12 (Mankato), but took the translator off the air last December after failing to come to an agreement with the owners of the Godahl tower from which it had transmitted. Now, K38MY has applied to move to channel 13, transmitting with 3kW from the KEYC tower near Lewisville. K38MY's reach would not be as large as KEYC's 52.7kW coverage area but would theoretically be strong enough to reach viewers with rooftop antennas in Mankato, New Ulm, and Fairmont. The application does not make any mention of what programming the new K38MY would carry.

Meanwhile, the Cooperative TV Association of Southern Minnesota has removed CBS affiliate WCCO-TV/4.1 (Minneapolis) from K41IZ-D, one of 18 CTV translators and low-power TV stations transmitting from the Godahl tower. A notice airing on the CTV system says WCCO was removed on April 16 because CBS no longer allows its network programming from WCCO to be retransmitted on the Godahl tower. (The translator continues to carry Decades from WCCO-DT2). WCCO-CBS remains available on CTV translators in Frost and Jackson, both of which are considered to be in the Minneapolis market. (5/14/2018)

NEBRASKA:
Gray TV has named Andrew Stewart the new General Manager of NBC affiliate WOWT/6.1 (Omaha). Stewart has 35 years of industry experience, including a corporate position at the former Lee Enterprises and several GM and sales management positions. He will start at WOWT in June. (5/10/2018)

IOWA/MINNESOTA:
Several new FM translators granted during recent AM revitalization windows have recently signed on:

  • Elkader, IA: K244FQ/96.7 is on the air relaying the Adult Contemporary format of KADR/1400.
  • Sheldon, IA: K264CW/100.7 is on the air relaying the News/Talk format of KIWA/1550.
  • New Ulm, MN: K247CU/97.3 is on the air relaying Farm/Country format of KNUJ/860. (5/9/2018)

WISCONSIN:
Broadcast TV viewers in the Madison and Milwaukee markets now have more channels to choose from. In Madison, WIFS (Janesville) has added Laff on channel 57.6, Escape on 57.7, and Grit on 57.8. In Milwaukee, WIWN (Fond du Lac) has added getTV on 68.4; LATV has moved from 68.4 to 68.7, replacing Shop LC. getTV had previously been carried on WVTV-DT2 until Sinclair Broadcast Group returned the license of WCGV-TV and consolidated WVTV and WCGV's channels on one transmitter. (5/7/2018)

WISCONSIN:
The company that's been running WBJZ/104.7 (Berlin) for the past decade has filed a petition to deny the station's proposed sale to Woodward Communications. As previously reported here, Woodward has a deal to buy WBJZ from Caxambas Corporation for $720,000. Martini Broadcasting's petition alleges that it had the right to purchase WBJZ, saying it had discussed the possible sale as recently as December and was working to line up financing when Caxambas reached its deal with Woodward. However, Caxambas says in an opposition to the petition to deny that Martin's option to buy WBJZ expired in 2013. The FCC has not yet decided on the application. (5/3/2018)

SOUTH DAKOTA:
The groups that first brought Catholic radio to eastern South Dakota are transferring their stations to a larger regional network that's expanding into the area. Agnus Dei Communications' KSJP/88.9 (Ipswich-Aberdeen) and K233BR/94.5 (Brookings), as well as Catholic Chancery Office's KSTJ/91.3 (Hartford-Sioux Falls), will join Real Presence Radio. As reported here last week, RPR is also in the process of buying KBAD-FM/94.5 (Sioux Falls). An asset purchase agreement filed with the FCC says KSTJ's sale price is $1, while the agreement for KSJP/K233BR was apparently inadvertently omitted from the FCC filing. KSTJ, KSJP, K233BR, and KSTJ-LP/104.3 (Sioux Falls) had operated as "The Lamb Cathlic Radio," but the network's website and social media feeds have already been taken down. KSTJ and KSJP are already listed on Real Presence Radio's website, but it's not known if they are currently on the air. KSTJ-LP is not included in the transfer. (5/2/2018)

SOUTH DAKOTA:
Gray TV is adding a second major network affiliation in Sioux Falls with the purchase of NBC affiliate KDLT/46.1. Gray, which owns ABC affiliate KSFY/13.1, announced Tuesday that it has reached an agreement to buy KDLT from Red River Broadcast Corp. for $32.5 million. Gray also runs CW+ and Me-TV on KSFY subchannels and also owns a low-power TV license in Sioux Falls, while KDLT carries Antenna TV on a subchannel.

Gray's news release indicated plans to move KDLT into KSFY's new facility, which was built to include room for a second station's news and sales staffs. In a similar circumstance, the company recently combined the Rapid City ABC and FOX affiliates under one roof. The company also holds multiple network affiliations in Fargo, Bismarck, Lincoln/Hastings, and North Platte, among other markets.

It was not immediately clear whether Gray intends to seek a waiver to own both the KSFY and KDLT licenses, or if NBC programming would be moved to a current Gray station. In other markets, Gray has divested second licenses and moved new network affiliations and legacy callsigns to subchannels and low-power stations, but those deals were made before the FCC announced that it may consider waivers for ownership of two top-four stations. It was also not immediately clear if the deal includes KDLT satellite KDLV/5.1 (Mitchell).

KSFY and KDLT compete with Nexstar CBS affiliate KELO-TV and locally-owned FOX affiliate KTTW, the latter of which does not have a news department.

Fargo-based Red River Broadcast Corp. retains its FOX affiliates in Fargo and Duluth. Its sister company, Red Rock Radio, divested all of its two dozen radio licenses in recent years. (5/1/2018)

NEW FM TRANSLATORS GRANTED (3/26-4/30):
The FCC has granted several FM translator applications from the third AM revitalization filing window that had previously been in conflict. With the conflicts resolved through engineering amendments, the following translators have been granted to AM stations:

  • Yankton, SD: KYNT/1450, K271CW/102.1, 250W
  • Vermillion, SD: KVTK/1570, K268DP/101.5, 250W
  • Baraboo, WI: WDLS/910 (Wisconsin Dells), W223DX/92.7, 250W
  • Fond du Lac, WI: WFDL/1170 (Waupun), W229DE/93.7, 250W
  • Fond du Lac, WI: KFIZ/1450, W264DN/100.7, 250W
  • New Holstein, WI: WLAK/1530, W230DA/93.9, 250W
  • Oshkosh, WI: WVCY/690, W260DL/99.9, 250W
  • Oshkosh, WI: WOSH/1490, W230DB/93.9, 250W
  • Wausau, WI: WXCO/1230, W258DK/99.5, 250W
  • Wittenberg, WI: WATK/900, W259DF/99.7, 250W

The full list of applications is posted on the 2017 AM Revitalization Translator Applications page. Additional aplications filed this year are listed on the 2018 AM Revitalization Translator Applications page. (4/30/2018)

SOUTH DAKOTA:
Townsquare Media's "Mix 97.3" (KMXC Sioux Falls) and "Hot 104.7" (KKLS-FM Sioux Falls) are back on the air after their shared tower near Humboldt, northwest of Sioux Falls, was damaged during the blizzard two weeks ago. The Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports that the top 275 feet of the 875-foot tower fell on April 14, a day after being coated in ice. Both stations normally transmit with 100kW with KKLS-FM at 299m above average terrain and KMXC at 259m. KMXC returned to the air a few days later, apparently using its licensed 18kW/53m backup facility near Brandon. KKLS-FM has no licensed backup facility and returned to the air Saturday, April 28 using 6.8kW/219m from the shortened Humboldt tower, according to a request for special temporary authority. It had continued streaming online while it was off the air. (4/29/2018, added STA filing 5/3)

MINNESOTA:
KDMA-FM/93.9 (Granite Falls), formerly KKRC, is now simulcasting the News, Farm, and Classic Country format of KDMA/1460 (Montevideo). It appears the change happened sometime in the past week. KKRC had previously carried a long-running Classic Hits format that had evolved from Oldies. Sister station KMGM/105.5 (Montevideo) carries Classic Rock. KDMA also has a pending application for a new FM translator on 98.3 in Montevideo. The stations are owned by Tor Ingstad's Iowa City Broadcasting. (4/29/2018)

NEBRASKA:
Legacy Communications/Hometown Family Radio has retaken day-to-day operations of its six stations in the Scottsbluff market and two in the North Platte market after nearly five years of Armada Media running the stations.

The shift resulted in one format change: KZTL/93.5 (Paxton-North Platte) has dropped "Sunny" Adult Contemporary to become "Country 93.5" with a 1990's and 2000's playlist and the syndicated "Big D and Bubba Morning Show." KZTL and "Rock 100.7" (KRNP Sutherland-North Platte) had been operated alongside Armada's three stations in North Platte but have now moved to their own facility, as seen in this KNOP-TV report. KZTL had originally launched as "Wild Country" in 2007 and changed format when Armada took over in 2013; it now competes with Armada's "KX104" (KXNP/103.5 North Platte) and Eagle Radio's "Q Country" (KNPQ/107.3 Hershey-North Platte), with Country now heard on half of the market's six full-power FM signals.

Commenting on the splitup, Armada's Chris Bernier told the North Platte Telegraph, "We just weren’t happy with the arrangement." He told the paper that Armada's three North Platte stations, which do business as "Huskeradio," will continue to cover local sports and community events.

In Scottsbluff, it doesn't appear the change in management has resulted in any format changes, but the "Cami and Gary Morning Show" has become the "Cami and Trevor Morning Show," with listeners lamenting the loss of Gary on the show's Facebook page. The show is simulcast on AC "Sunny 99.3" (KETT Mitchell) and Contemporary Hits "Z101.3" (KOZY-FM Bridgeport). The Scottsbluff group's other stations are Rocker KMOR/93.3 (Gering), "Wild Country 106.9" (KHYY Minatare), Classic Country KOAQ/690 (Terrytown), and News/Talker KOLT/1320 (Scottsbluff). As previously reported, Armada is selling translator K269DO/101.7 (Scottsbluff), which had relayed KOAQ, to the Nebraska Rural Radio Association.

Besides its three stations in North Platte, Armada also has a three-station group in McCook, while Legacy also owns four full-power stations and several translators in Grand Island, three stations in McCook, and two in Holdrege; the Holdrege stations were purchased from Armada five years ago. (4/28/2018)

NEBRASKA:
The Nebraska Rural Radio Association is buying K276FB/103.1 (Schuyler) from Flood Communications for $38,000. Meanwhile, K276FB is seeking a "Matton waiver" to move to the tiny town of Ulysses, where it would transmit with 250 Watts and relay the NRRA's KAWL/1370 (York). KAWL carries a Classic Hits format and is also relayed on K278CI/103.5 (York) using the slogan "Kool 103.5." K276FB is currently silent and is seeking expedited processing of its facility change application since it must return to the air by October to keep its license. (4/25/2018)

IOWA/MISSOURI: (UPDATED)
Des Moines FOX affiliate KDSM-TV/17 is being sold to a New York investment company as part of a nine-station divestiture by Sinclair Broadcast Group. Standard Media Group LLC, an affiliate of Standard General LP, announced Tuesday that it will buy KDSM and eight stations in other parts of the country from Sinclair for $441.7 million in cash. The new company is headed by Deb McDermott, the former COO of Media General and former CEO of Young Broadcasting.

Sinclair is required to divest a station in Des Moines as part of its proposed purchase of Tribune Broadcasting, since Tribune owns NBC affiliate WHO-DT/13 and both WHO and KDSM rank in the top four in the market. KDSM does not have a news department and airs a 9 p.m. newscast produced by WHO.

There had been speculation that Des Moines-based Meredith might buy WHO-DT or KDSM, but Sinclair instead announced Tuesday that Meredith is buying CW affiliate KPLR/11 (St. Louis). Meredith, which already owns St. Louis CBS affiliate KMOV/4, reported the purchase price to be $65 million. A March filing by Sinclair had said that KPLR ranked fourth in St. Louis, but a filing submitted with the new application says KPLR has now fallen outside of the top four, thus allowing a KMOV/KPLR duopoly. (Sinclair currently owns St. Louis ABC affiliate KDNL/30 and is seeking to buy Tribune FOX affiliate KTVI/2; it was not immediately clear how the company would resolve the fact that both are apparently now ranked in the top four.)

KDSM and KPLR, as well as WGN-TV (Chicago), are among 23 stations that would be divested under Sinclair's latest plan, which is the fourth publicly-released version of the proposed deal. Though the WGN-TV license would be sold, Sinclair would operate the station through joint sales and shared services agreements. Nationally, the latest plan calls for Sinclair to take over Tribune CW affiliates WPIX (New York) and KTLA (Los Angeles), among others, removing an earlier plan to sell WPIX.

Sinclair would retain all of it and Tribune's other current Upper Midwest holdings, which include:
-FOX affiliates in Milwaukee, Green Bay, Madison, Cedar Rapids, Omaha, Sioux City, and Lincoln/Kearney
-ABC affiliates in the Quad Cities, Quincy, Kirksville/Ottumwa, and Kearney
-CBS affiliates in Cedar Rapids, Sioux City, and Ottumwa
-The NBC affiliate in Des Moines
-CW affiliates in Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Omaha.
All of the Sinclair/Tribune stations except Minneapolis and Madison have news departments. (4/24/2018, updated St. Louis rankings 4/25)

SOUTH DAKOTA:
Catholic broadcaster Real Presence Radio is buying KBAD-FM/94.5 (Sioux Falls) from Chuck Brennan's Badlands Airtime, LLC, for $945,000. The sale price is exactly what Brennan asked for the KBAD license when he silenced the Rocker last September after less than two years on the air, blaming regulatory oversight of his Dollar Loan Center. Prior to Brennan's ownership, 94.5 was non-commercial station KCFS, owned by the University of Sioux Falls. Real Presence Radio currently owns ten other stations in the Upper Midwest, including one in Rapid City, and is also in the process of buying two others. Sioux Falls is already served by another Catholic station, "Lamb Radio," which airs on KSTJ-LP/104.3 (Sioux Falls) and rimshot signal KSTJ/91.3 (Hartford). (4/23/2018)

IOWA:
New station KMMK/88.7 (Coggon-Cedar Rapids) is on the air carrying Cathlic programming. KMMK transmits 25kW/94m (class C3) from a tower near Coggon with a directional antenna pointed south, providing rimshot coverage of Cedar Rapids. Plus Charities, a Cedar Rapids-based group, was granted the station after New Bohemia Group returned its construction permit for the frequency. KMMK obtained "Raleigh waiver" to improve its planned coverage of Cedar Rapids after the FCC denied an informal objection from second-adjacent KCCK/88.3 (Cedar Rapids). Raleigh waivers allow upgrades for non-commercial FM stations when the actual interference to other non-commercial stations would be minimal. KMMK is named after St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe, who is considered the patron saint of amateur radio. (4/23/2018)

NEBRASKA:
The Nebraska Rural Radio Association is buying an FM translator in Scottsbluff. The Association will pay Armada Media $40,000 for K269DO/101.7, which was last known to relay KOAQ/690 (Terrytown). The buyer also owns KNEB-FM/94.1, KNEB/960, and KNEB translator K262CU/100.3 and has applied to move K269DO to KNEB-FM's transmitter site in the Wildcat Hills south of Scottsbluff. The application states K269DO will relay KNEB-FM. (4/23/2018)

MINNESOTA:
KZJZ/106.7 (Babbitt-Ely) and WVVE/95.3 (Grand Marais), formerly KAOD and WXXZ, are stunting with a mix of radio-themed Alternative songs as "Radio North of Ordinary." Aurora Broadcasting purchased the stations last year, and the stunting began Friday, April 20. They had previously relayed the Classic Rock format of KQDS-FM/94.9 (Duluth) under previous owner Midwest Communications. KZJZ is one of three commercial radio stations in the Ely area and WVVE is the only commercial radio station on the North Shore. KZJZ is also rebroadcast on W288AI/105.5 (Ely). (4/22/2018)

MICHIGAN (UPDATED):
Sovereign Communications' "99.5 Yes FM" (WYSS Sault Ste. Marie) and "Country 105" (WMKD/105.5 Pickford-Sault Ste. Marie) were knocked off the air Thursday when their tower partially collapsed. A station Facebook post says no one was injured and the cause is not yet known, but strong winds are suspected. A subsequent Facebook update said WYSS was back on the air at low power, but there was no word about WMKD. The stations continue to stream online. FCC records indicate the 330-foot tower was built in 1972. The incident happened the same day that one person was killed in a tower collapse in Missouri. (4/19/2018, updated 4/20)

IOWA:
Riverfront Broadcasting has laid off the employees at "Radio Keokuk" and is looking for a buyer, according to a report by Tri-States Public Radio. Riverfront has owned the stations, Country-formatted KOKX/1310 (Keokuk) and Classic Hits "Z93" (WCEZ/93.9 Carthage, IL-Keokuk), since 2016. The company's Carolyn Becker told TSPR that the stations will be closed unless new owners are found. The stations had been part of a four-station group under longtime owner W. Russell Withers, Jr. Following Withers' death, the group's two largest FM signals were sold to Christian broadcasters while KOKX and WCEZ were sold to Riverfront. The city of more than 10,000 people has no other local commercial radio stations but does receive rimshot signals from several Quincy and Burlington-market stations. Riverfront also owns stations in eight other small communities in Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota. (4/19/2018)

IOWA/WISCONSIN/ILLINOIS:
Several new digital TV subchannels have recently launched:

Des Moines: Nexstar's WOI-DT (Ames) added Grit on 5.3 and Cozi TV on 5.4, while sister station KCWI (Ames) added Quest on 23.4. Grit had previously been seen on Sinclair's KDSM-DT3 until being replaced with Charge! a year ago.

Milwaukee: WIWN added Quest on channel 68.3, replacing infomercials. WIWN is licensed to Fond du Lac but transmits from Milwaukee.

Quincy: TV listings indicate Quincy Media's flagship station, WGEM-TV, has added MeTV on 10.4. The station also carries NBC on 10.1, CW+ on 10.2, and FOX on 10.3. (4/17/2018)

SOUTH DAKOTA:
A longtime South Dakota TV station won't be returning to the air, though most viewers continue to receive the programming the station had carried via cable or satellite.

Gray TV has returned the license of KABY-TV/9 (Aberdeen), which had acted as a longtime satellite of ABC affiliate KSFY (Sioux Falls). No reason for the decision was given in a cancellation application, though the station had told the FCC in 2015 that its tower did not pass an inspection and needed to be deconstructed immediately. The 1300-foot tower midway between Aberdeen and Watertown was 52 years old at the time.

Filings indicate the station left the air in 2015 and returned briefly in early 2016 and 2017 to retain its license. The license was formally cancelled on April 6. Gray has moved the KABY callsign to a low-power TV station in Sioux Falls.

A job posting indicates KSFY continues to maintain a one-person news bureau in Aberdeen, and KSFY can still be seen on cable and satellite in the area. Though KSFY is the only network affiliate that can no longer be received over the air in Aberdeen, the station had told the Watertown Public Opinion in 2015 that only about 2,500 households were affected by KABY going off the air, which represents about 1 percent of households in the overall Sioux Falls market.

KSFY is still rebroadcast on KPRY/4.1 (Pierre).

Broadcasting Yearbooks indicate KABY first signed on in 1958 as KXAB-TV, a locally-operated NBC/ABC affiliate under the ownership of North Dakota Broadcasting (a logo seen in a 1962 TV Guide also included CBS, in addition to the other networks). KXAB-TV became a satellite of KSOO-TV (Sioux Falls) as KCOO-TV in 1970 and later became KABY, switching to ABC along with KSFY in 1983. After several ownership changes, Gray TV has owned the stations since 2014. (4/15/2018)

MINNESOTA:
Leighton Enterprises has signed on two new FM signals in Winona. K254CM/98.7 relays the News/Talk format of KWNO/1230, while K268DJ/101.5 relays "KG Country" from KAGE/1380. The translators join Leighton's three full-power FM stations in Winona, which carry Hot Adult Contemporary, Country, and Classic Hits formats. (4/12/2018)

MINNESOTA:
The FCC has granted a big FM translator upgrade in southwestern Minnesota. Wallace Christenson's K257FP/99.3 (Pipestone) has been on the air for several years relaying the Farm/Country format of KLOH/1050 (Pipestone) with 250 Watts from KLOH's tower site. K257FP has now been granted a move to the KSMN-TV tower near Chandler, where its 250-Watt signal will transmit from 343 meters above average terrain, giving it fringe coverage stretching from Pipestone to Worthington. Such large coverage areas for translators are more common in larger cities such as Minneapolis, where tall towers are more readily available. The Chandler tower is also used by Christenson's KISD/98.7 (Pipestone) and KJOE/106.1 (Slayton). (4/12/2018)

NORTH DAKOTA:
New FM translator K264CV/100.7 (Dickinson) is on the air relaying News and Classic Hits from KDIX/1230. The stations are owned by Starrdak, Inc., which has no other stations and competes with iHeartRadio's group of three stations and two other standalone FM's in Dickinson. (4/12/2018)

IOWA:
The University of Northwestern-St. Paul is proposing an upgrade to one of its Des Moines area signals and is simultaneously buying a western Iowa station that it would have to modify to allow the Des Moines upgrade.

"Life 107.1" (KNWI Osceola) has applied to upgrade to 100kW/299m (class C1) from a tower south of Winterset, improving the station's rimshot signal to Des Moines. The station has targeted Des Moines for decades, though the capital city is outside of the city-grade contour from its current 30kW/193m (class C2) facility.

To make way for KNWI's upgrade, KDSN-FM/107.1 (Denison) would move to 104.9 but keep its current 6kW facility.

Meanwhile, Northwestern subsidiary UNW Media Holdings LLC has reached an agreement to buy KDSN-FM and KDSN/1530 from Mikadety Radio Corporation for $1.25 million. Mikadety is owned by Michael and Kathy Dudding, who have been with KDSN for 25 years. The stations carry a large amount of local news and farm information, with a mix of Adult Contemporary and Classic Rock on FM and Country and Polka on AM. They deliver the only city-grade signals to Denison.

Northwestern does not own any other stations outside of rated markets. (4/11/2018)

MINNESOTA:
Salem Media has is seeking FCC approval to move another station away from a longtime AM transmission site in St. Louis Park. KDIZ/1570 (Golden Valley-Minneapolis) has applied to move to the longtime 1440 transmission site near Highway 55 and Highway 100 (Lilac Drive) in Golden Valley, changing power slightly from the current 3.8kW day and 230 Watts night to 4kW day and 220 Watts night, non directional. 1570 has been at the St. Louis Park site for a little over 20 years. As earlier reported here, the St. Louis Park site's original occupant, WWTC/1280 (Minneapolis), has already applied to move to the KKMS/980 site in Eagan. The moves of 1280 and 1570 would leave no stations at the St. Louis Park site, which has been in use for more than 50 years. (4/10/2018)

MINNESOTA:
Fox Television Stations plans to add another daily hour of news to its stations in Minneapolis this July, according to a statement provided to the national trades. KMSP/FOX 9 will add a half-hour at 6:30 p.m., competing with existing local newscasts on KSTP/ABC and KARE/NBC at 6:30 and creating a two-hour block of early news on KMSP. WFTC/FOX 9+ will add a half-hour at 7:30 p.m., expanding the newscast that launched at 7 p.m. last fall. The additions will bring the two stations to a combined 12 hours of local programming per weekday, including locally-produced "The Jason Show." (4/9/2018)

NORTH DAKOTA:
BEK Sports Network is buying two western North Dakota TV stations, KNDB/26.1 (Bismarck) and KNDM/24.1 (Minot), from Legacy Broadcasting, LLC, for $950,000. The stations already carry BEK programming, including North Dakota high school and college sports. BEK has no other broadcast interests and also provides cable TV, internet, and phone services in rural south-central North Dakota. Legacy had purchased KNDB and KNDM, formerly FOX affiliates KNDX and KXND, from Gray TV for a combined $150,000 in 2014; Gray had been required to divest the full-power licenses because of ownership caps and moved the KNDX/KXND callsigns to low-power TV stations in Dickinson and Williston. (4/9/2018)

MINNESOTA:
Real Presence Radio is buying KQAQ/970 (Austin) from Hometown Broadcasting of Austin and plans to switch the station's Classic Country format to non-commercial Catholic. The sale price is $450,000, with the transfer of KQAQ's transmitter site to the buyer seen as a donation with $150,000 value. The deal also includes a future FM translator for KQAQ at 94.3 being sought in the AM revitalization filing window. KQAQ uses a highly directional signal with 5kW day and 500 Watts night, providing a strong signal to Rochester and Albert Lea day and night and also a strong signal to Mason City during the day. KQAQ will be the tenth full-power station for Grand Forks-based Real Presence Radio, which has stations across the Upper Midwest. Hometown Broadcasting retains ownership of Classic Rock outlet "Power 96" (KQPR/96.1 Albert Lea). (4/9/2018)

MINNESOTA:
ION owned-and-operated station KPXM-TV/41.1 (St. Cloud-Minneapolis) is expected to move to a new RF channel and leave its longtime transmitter site in the coming months.

KPXM currently transmits on RF channel 40 and will move to RF channel 16 as part of the spectrum auction repack. The original plan was to move to 16 in April 2019, but the FCC recently granted KPXM special temporary authority to move to the new channel around June 1. The move will allow spectrum auction bid winner T-Mobile to begin using its new bandwidth earlier than planned.

KPXM has transmitted from a site north of Big Lake since the 1980's but tells the FCC that it has been unable to negotiate lease terms with the tower owner, American Towers, to accomodate the station's post-repack operations. The 1,509-foot Big Lake tower is the tallest in Minnesota and has no other broadcast tenants.

Instead, KPXM has applied to move about 15 miles east to the KQQL/107.9 site in Nowthen, which is owned by Vertical Bridge Towers. KPXM will use 470kW from the new site, down from 1,000kW at the current site. A map submitted as part of the application shows the new coverage area would be within the existing area, with some coverage lost to areas west and north of St. Cloud (see page 5).

KPXM's move to RF channel 16 will force Catholic station K16HY-D (St. Paul) to move to a new channel or leave the air. (4/8/2018)

IOWA: (UPDATED)
A western Iowa AM station is the latest to seek a downgrade rather than replace an aging tower array. KCIM/1380 (Carroll) is currently licensed 1kW day and night with different daytime and nighttime directional antenna patterns coming from a three-tower array. The station proposes to drop to 500 Watts day and 28 Watts night using a single-tower, nondirectional facility. The 28-Watt nighttime signal would still be enough to provide interference-free reception to Carroll. Last October, KCIM received special temporary authority to transmit with 500 Watts day and 250 Watts night, non-directional, saying it was having problems with its directional facility. In recent years, stations in Sioux City, Eau Claire, and Rapid City have also reduced power rather than replace multiple towers. (4/8/2018, added STA info 4/12)

IOWA:
William Penn University's KIGC/88.5 (Oskaloosa) has gone off the air. The station tells the FCC in a notification of suspension of operations that it went silent on March 5 when its tower was blown over in a wind storm. KIGC normally transmits with 1kW carrying a variety of music. (4/8/2018)

IOWA:
The purchase price of two stations in Marshalltown is $850,000, according to an asset purchase agreement filed with the FCC. As first reported here in February when the sale was announced in a press release, Trending Media is buying KFJB/1230 (Marshalltown) and "Kix 101" (KXIA/101.1 Marshalltown) from Marshalltown Broadcasting. Trending Media is owned by current KFJB/KXIA general manager Todd Steinkamp and Robert and Colleen Holtan; Robert Holtan owns 8 percent of current licensee Marshalltown Broadcasting, with other current shareholders based in Wisconsin and Michigan. Elsewhere, the Holtans' Decorah Broadcasting owns KDEC/1240 and KDEC-FM/100.5 (Decorah). Steinkamp has been with the stations for 15 years. KFJB carries a News/Talk format and KXIA carries Country with a rimshot signal to Ames. (2/24/2018, updated 4/8 with sale price)

MANITOBA:
CKYZ-FM (Winnipeg) has moved from 92.9 to 96.9 ahead of the planned move of CKJS from AM 810 to FM 92.7. The 50-Watt CKYZ, owned by Baldev Gill, carries East Indian programming as "Radio Awaz." (4/8/2018)

COMPETING FM TRANSLATOR APPLICATIONS:
The FCC has identified 75 groups of mutually exclusive applications for new FM translators filed in the fourth and final AM revitalization window. In the Upper Midwest, they include:

  • Waterloo, IA: Coloff Media (KCFI Cedar Falls) and NRG Media (KPTY Waterloo) both applied for 101.5.
  • St. Cloud, MN: Townsquare Media (KXSS Waite Park) applied for 93.9, while Herbert Hoppe (WXYG Sauk Rapids) applied for 94.3.
  • Stillwater, MN/Amery, WI: Endurance Broadcasting (KLBB Stillwater) and Zoe Communications (WXCE Amery) both applied for 107.5.
  • Grand Forks, ND/Crookston, MN: Gopher Communications (KROX Crookston) applied for 92.3, while Real Presence Radio (KWTL Grand Forks) applied for 92.5.
  • Wadena/Verndale, MN: De La Hunt Broadcasting (KSKK Verndale) and HBI Radio (KWAD Wadena) both applied for 101.3.
  • Brainerd, MN: De La Hunt Broadcasting (NEW-1210 Pine River) and HBI Radio (KLIZ Brainerd) both applied for 105.1.
  • Sioux Falls, SD: Townsquare Media (KXRB) and University of Northwestern-St. Paul (KNWC) both applied for 107.5.
  • Manitowoc, WI: Seehafer Broadcasting applied for translators for both of its stations (WOMT Manitowoc and WCUB Two Rivers) on 97.1.

The competing applicants now have until June 14 to modify their applications or reach settlement agreements to resolve the conflicts. The owners of dozens of other stations that sought translators during the window can breathe easier knowing that their applications face no competition. Click here for a complete list. (4/4/2018)

MINNESOTA:
KLBB/1220 (Stillwater-Minneapolis-St. Paul) went off the air as planned at midnight on the evening of Saturday, March 31, as new owners prepared to take possession of the station's longtime transmitter site.

KLBB signed off with a message from owner Dan Smith thanking listeners and those who have worked at the station over the years, into Frank Sinatra's "One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)." Here's the audio recorded from KLBB's web stream. The station's last days drew coverage from KSTP-TV and KARE 11.

It's not clear whether the frequency will return to the air from a new site -- Smith said in his signoff, "We're not sure what the future has in store." The station's Facebook page links to a survey asking people if they are willing to offer their skills or financial support. Federal law gives KLBB up to a year to return to the air.

KLBB had transmitted with 5kW day and 254 Watts at night, nondirectional, from Brick Street in Stillwater and also has an application for a new FM translator on 107.5, which could serve the northeastern metro. (4/1/2018)

MINNESOTA:
Minnesota Public Radio is adding "The Daily" to its schedule on Monday as sister organization American Public Media begins distribution of the half-hour show produced by the New York Times. "The Daily" will air weeknights at 6:30 p.m. on MPR News. "Marketplace" will move up a half-hour to 6 p.m., cutting a half-hour from "All Things Considered," which continues from 3 to 6 p.m. MPR News is heard on two dozen full-power signals in Minnesota and neighboring states. (4/1/2018)

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