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SPECTRUM AUCTION REACHES BALANCE:
It now appears TV broadcasters will be left with 35 channels after the FCC's spectrum auction reached balance in round four, leaving TV with seven more channels than it would have had if the auction had succeeded in the first round.
TV Technology reports the magic moment happened Wednesday, Jan. 18, when the price wireless companies were willing to pay for the spectrum finally matched the price some broadcasters want to sell their spectrum, plus other expenses of station relocations. It appears channel 38 and up will be removed from the TV dial to free up 84 MHz of spectrum, leaving channels 2 to 36 for TV broadcasting (channel 37 has long been reserved for radio astronomy). Stations will still be able to remap to "virtual" channel numbers above 36. All remaining stations above RF channel 36 will have to be relocated to lower channels, and the remaining stations could also have to change channel as part of the national repack. It's not yet known which stations have agreed to sell their spectrum or move from UHF to VHF, since the process has been confidential. Stations that sell their spectrum will still have the option of retaining their license by sharing a channel with another broadcaster. (1/18/2017)

IOWA/SOUTH DAKOTA/WISCONSIN:
A half-dozen Upper Midwest TV stations officially changed hands Tuesday, Jan. 17, as Nexstar closed on its purchase of Media General, with several stations being spun off to comply with ownership caps. KELO-TV (CBS, Sioux Falls) and KCLO (CBS, Rapid City) are now owned by Nexstar; WBAY (ABC, Green Bay) and KWQC (NBC, Davenport) are now owned by Gray TV; and KIMT (CBS, Mason City) is now owned by Heartland Media. Nexstar was unable to keep WBAY and KWQC because it already owns other top-four stations in those cities, while KIMT was sold off to comply with national ownership caps as part of a five-station deal. (1/17/2017)

MINNESOTA:
KCUE/1250 (Red Wing) has signed on 250-Watt FM translator K255CZ/98.9, serving the Mississippi River valley southeast of the Twin Cities. KCUE runs Classic Country and is owned by Q Media Group, along with Classic Hits outlet "K-Wing 106" (KWNG/105.9 Red Wing) and stations in Lake City and Wabasha. K255CZ was formerly Refuge Radio translator K263AL/100.5 (Madison) and was moved across the state under the FCC's AM revitalization window. (1/16/2017)

IOWA:
Saga Broadcasting as signed on translator K271CO/102.1 (Des Moines), relaying ESPN Radio from KRNT/1350. The 99-Watt translator broadcasts from downtown Des Moines was moved south from Minnesota under the FCC's AM revitalization window. It's Saga's eight FM signal in the capital city, with a group now consisting of four full-power FM stations, four FM translators, and two AM stations. (1/15/2017)

NEBRASKA:
KNLV-FM/103.9 (Ord) has upgraded to 100kW/286m (class C1), expanding its coverage across an area of north-central Nebraska with few other FM signals. The station moved its transmitter to a site about 20 miles northwest of Ord, adding rimshot coverage of O'Neil and improving its signal to Broken Bow. KNLV-FM is owned by MWB Broadcasting II and carries a Country format that recently changed its name from "V103.9" to "King FM," according to its Facebook page. (1/10/2017)

MINNESOTA/WISCONSIN:
A number of new digital TV subchannels are launching in the Twin Cities and Wisconsin:

  • KMSP (Minneapolis) is due to begin carrying Light TV as part of a national agreement between the new network and FOX Television Stations. Light TV carries family-friendly reruns and movies, similar to the short-lived "Sonlight" format on KLGT-TV/23 (Minneapolis), now WUCW, in the early 1990's.
  • Twin Cities Public Television has revamped the channel lineup on KTCA/KTCI for the launch of the new PBS Kids channel. PBS Kids will air on 2.4, with TPT Weather now on 2.5. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Channel continues to be seen on 2.2, but it now originates from the KTCI (RF 23) transmitter rather than the KTCA (RF 34) transmitter. 2.3 also comes from KTCI, while 2.1, 2.4, and 2.5 come from KTCA.
  • Wisconsin Public Television plans to carry PBS Kids on the newly-added .4 channels of its six stations: WHA-TV/21 (Madison), WPNE-TV/38 (Green Bay), WHRM-TV/20 (Wausau), WLEF/36 (Park Falls), WHWC-TV/28 (Menomonie-Eau Claire), and WHLA-TV/31 (La Crosse).
  • Milwaukee PBS (WMVS/WMVT) will carry PBS Kids on channel 10.3 of WMVS, replacing V-Me, which is leaving broadcast TV nationally.
  • WTMJ-TV (Milwaukee) is now carrying Escape on 4.3, replacing Cozi TV. (1/9/2017)

IOWA/NEBRASKA/WISCONSIN: (UPDATED)
CBS affiliate KCCI (Des Moines) and ABC affiliates WISN-TV (Milwaukee) and KETV (Omaha) have returned to DirecTV after a week-long retransmission consent dispute between Hearst Communications and DirecTV. The dispute affected dozens of Hearst stations nationwide beginning Jan. 1. Most mentions of the dispute, and its resolution, now seem to have been scrubbed from Hearst station websites. (1/1/2017, updated 1/9)

IOWA:
KMZN/740 (Oskaloosa) and its FM translator, K258BG/99.5, have dropped Sports in favor of Classic Hits. The Sports format had launched with the FM translator about two years ago; prior to that, 740 had simulcast the Country format of sister station KBOE-FM/104.9. 740's 229-Watt daytime signal has a wide coverage area across south-central and southeastern Iowa, but its 10-Watt nighttime signal is mostly limited to the Oskaloosa area. (1/8/2017)

MANITOBA:
Canadian regulators have given approval for a western Manitoba AM station to move its format to a major FM signal while keeping the AM transmitter on the air. The Country format of CKLQ/880 (Brandon) will move to 91.5 FM, assuming the 100kW facility of Native Communications Incorporated's CIWM-FM. NCI's station had already received approval to move to 107.5 and operate at lower power in a cost-saving effort. CKLQ is owned by Riding Mountain Broadcasting, which also owns CKLF-FM/94.7; the stations compete with Bell Media's two FM signals in Brandon, which include one Country format. Bell, Corus Entertainment, and Rogers Broadcasting (all three of which have stations in Winnipeg) objected to CKLQ's plans for an indefinite AM-FM simulcast. The CRTC found that the AM-FM simulcast is allowed because the 10kW AM signal will be considered a rebroadcasting transmitter rather than a separate license, similar to the conversion of three northern Manitoba stations several years ago. From an economic standpoint, profits in the market have been rising but Riding Mountain said CKLQ has generated a net loss, and the CRTC concluded that its conversion to FM would not have an undue economic impact on the market. (1/8/2017)

MINNESOTA:
The Twin Cities' "Go 96.3" has switched its callsign from KTWN-FM to KQGO, marking the third* time the KTWN callsign has departed the Twin Cities. FCC records indicate the change for the Edina-licensed station was effective Jan. 1. Northern Lights Broadcasting owns KQGO and "Go 95.3" (KZGO St. Paul), with Hip-Hop running on KZGO and Adult Alternative on KQGO. Trivia buffs will note that KQGO is the fourth station in the Twin Cities to start with KQ, joining KQRS/92.5, KQQL/107.9, and KQSP/1530. *A reader informs your reporter that the KTWN callsign had also been used on 1400 in the 1960's, prior to its use on 1470/107.9. (1/4/2017)

MINNESOTA:
VCY America has signed on new translator W259CV/99.7 (Duluth), relaying VCY's Christian programming from WQRM/850. The 250-Watt signal broadcasts from the Duluth antenna farm and was moved in from Wisconsin under the AM revitalization window. It's the sixth FM translator in Duluth, and its sign-on comes just a few weeks after Midwest Communications activated its two new translators in the city. (1/2/2017)

MINNESOTA:
Midwest Communications has made a few changes to start the new year on the Iron Range: First, its "Duke FM" Classic Country format is now running on KGPZ/96.1 (Coleraine-Hibbing). Midwest bought KGPZ, formerly mainstream Country outlet "Z96," from Red Rock Radio as part of a five-station deal. The new "Duke" format works in tandem with Midwest Country outlet "Radio USA" (WUSZ/99.9 Virginia-Hibbing). KGPZ has carried Country formats for its entire history, starting with the "Real Country" network in 1995.

Meanwhile, Midwest's WMFG-FM/106.3 (Hibbing) has dropped a syndicated Classic Hits format in favor of a rebroadcast of Classic Rocker KQDS-FM/94.9 (Duluth), which was also included in Midwest's five-station purchase from Red Rock. The KQDS-FM rebroadcast had previously been heard on the western Iron Range on KBAJ/105.5 (Deer River), which was sold to a separate buyer and continues a Classic Rock format under a different identity. Midwest divested its previous Iron Range Classic Rocker, KMFG/102.9 (Nashwauk), to comply with ownership caps (see earlier reports on changes at KBAJ and KMFG). WMFG-FM is adjacent on the dial to KAOD/106.7 (Babbitt), which relays KQ on the eastern Iron Range. (1/1/2017)

MINNESOTA:
KFGI/101.5 (Crosby-Brainerd) has moved to Classic Hits as "Skeeter 101-5," dropping the syndicated "Jack FM" Variety Hits format. The new playlist runs from the 1950's to 2000's and is quite broad, with Kid Rock's "Bawitdaba" and Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls of Fire" heard a few minutes apart on Saturday afternoon. The switch came sometime in December and follows R&J Broadcasting's purchase of KFGI, and five others in the Brainerd/Aitkin area, from Red Rock Radio. (1/1/2017)

MINNESOTA/WISCONSIN:
If you've lost track, there have been a total of ten format changes in recent months related to Red Rock Radio's selloff of stations in north-central and northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin:

  • WWWI/1270 (Baxter-Brainerd) switched from Sports to News/Talk (Red Rock Radio to R&J Broadcasting)
  • KFGI/101.5 (Crosby-Brainerd) moved from Variety Hits "Jack" to Classic Hits "Skeeter" (Red Rock to R&J)
  • WWWI-FM/95.9 (Pillager-Brainerd) switched from Classic Rock "KQ" to Classic Country/Classic Hits "Cash" (Red Rock to R&J)
  • KGPZ/96.1 (Coleraine-Hibbing) moved from mainstream Country "Z96" to Classic Country "Duke" (Red Rock to Midwest Communications)
  • KMFG/102.9 (Nashwauk-Hibbing) switched from Classic Rock to Christian Hits (Midwest divestiture to Refuge Media Group)
  • WMFG-FM/106.3 (Hibbing) switched from Classic Hits to Classic Rock "KQ" (not sold, owned by Midwest)
  • WXCE/1260 (Amery) switched from Sports to Oldies (Red Rock to Zoe Communications)
  • WLMX-FM/104.9 (Balsam Lake) moved from Variety Hits "Mix" to Classic Hits "Max" (Red Rock to Zoe)
  • WHSM/910 (Hayward) switched from "Fan" Sports to Adult Gold (Red Rock to Zoe)
  • WXCX/105.7 (Siren) switched from "Fan" Sports to Classic Country "Willie" (Red Rock to Zoe) (1/1/2017)

MINNESOTA:
KBAJ/105.5 (Deer River-Grand Rapids) is due to continue carrying Classic Rock as Lamke Broadcasting, owner of two Grand Rapids stations, takes over in the new year. KBAJ currently relays Red Rock Radio's KQDS-FM/94.9 (Duluth), and Lamke will will take over KBAJ under a local marketing agreement on Sunday (Jan. 1) as it awaits FCC approval of its purchase of the station from Red Rock. Lamke also owns News/Oldies outlet KOZY/1320 (Grand Rapids) and Adult Contemporary outlet KMFY/96.9 (Grand Rapids). According to a post on the station's website, the new Classic Rock format will be called "J105 The Thunder" and will include the syndicated Bob & Tom morning show. Besides Grand Rapids, KBAJ's 100kW signal is also strong in Hibbing and the western Iron Range. (12/30/2016)

MINNESOTA:
KMFG/102.9 (Nashwauk-Hibbing) has flipped from Classic Rock to non-commercial Christian Hits as KRFG after Midwest Communications' sale of the station to Duluth-based Refuge Media. Midwest had to divest KMFG to comply with ownership caps to buy KGPZ/96.1 (Coleraine) from Red Rock Radio as part of a five-station deal, which received FCC approval in November. KMFG is the third full-power station for Refuge, which also runs its "Refuge Radio" network on WJRF/89.5 (Duluth), KRGM/89.9 (Marshall), and more than a dozen translators in Minnesota, eastern South Dakota, and northwestern Iowa. (12/30/2016)

SOUTH DAKOTA:
One of Mitchell's two radio groups is returning to local ownership: Nedved Media, LLC, is buying Riverfront Broadcasting's three Mitchell-market stations for $3.35 million. The stations include News/Talker KORN/1490 (Mitchell), "Korn Country" (KORN-FM/92.1 Parkston-Mitchell), and Hot Adult Contemporary outlet "Q107" (KQRN/107.3 Mitchell). Nedved Media will begin operating the stations through a local marketing agreement on Jan. 1. The company is owned by Nancy and Steve Nedved of Mitchell; Nancy is the group's general manager. The group competes with Saga Broadcasting's two full-power FM's and two HD-fed FM translators in the market. Riverfront and its sister companies retain three stations in Pierre, three in Yankton, and eight in Iowa. (12/29/2016)

MINNESOTA:
Community radio station KFAI/90.3 (Minneapolis) is broadcasting at reduced power after a winter storm snapped its IDS Center antenna on Christmas Day. The station reports that it was able to return to the air on Dec. 27 after engineers located a used antenna. KFAI normally transmits with 900 Watts and is currently using 251 Watts (ERP), according to a request for special temporary authority filed with the FCC. The outage had also affected KFAI translator K294AM/106.7 (West St. Paul), which relays the station's programming to the eastern metro. The station continued to provide programming online during the outage. (12/28/2016, updated with STA filing 12/29)

MINNESOTA:
Leighton Enterprises has launched a Contemporary Hits format called "Channel 977" on KJJK/1020 and translator K249EZ/97.7 (Fergus Falls). KJJK had previously run a Sports format and had flipped to Christmas music, followed by two days of Prince, before the format launch on Dec. 28, according to its Facebook page. K249EZ was moved down from East Grand Forks under the FCC's AM revitalization window. KJJK is one of four stations owned by Leighton in Fergus Falls, with the others carrying Country, Rock, and News/Talk formats. The launch of "Channel 977" apparently marks the first time the western Minnesota city has had its own Contemporary Hits format. (12/28/2016)

NEBRASKA:
News Channel Nebraska's new station in Grand Island is due to begin broadcasting in January, according to an article in the Grand Island Independent. The NCN network has three existing low-power TV stations and is owned by Flood Communications, which has construction permits for KMLF-LD/21 (Grand Island) and KGHK-LD/30 (Hastings); the newspaper article mentions channel 30. KGHK-LD is slated to transmit from a tower midway between Hastings and Kearney and should have a good signal to the Tri-Cities. NCN's existing stations in Norfolk, Columbus, and Beatrice show locally-produced newscasts on a repeating wheel, as well as sports and other local events. Grand Island will be NCN's biggest city and also its most competitive, since several major network affiliates already cover Grand Island news on a regular basis. (12/27/2016)

ONTARIO:
The hometown of the bear that inspired Winnie the Pooh could soon get a second FM signal. CBC Radio One's CBLW/1010 (White River) has applied to move to 97.7 FM with 50 Watts, up from 40 Watts on the AM side. The only other station receivable in White River, other than AM skywave reception at night, is a secondary transmitter of Adult Contemporary outlet CFNO-FM (Marathon) on 100.7. The town has about 600 residents and is a stop for travellers on the Trans-Canada Highway and the Lake Superior Circle Tour. (12/26/2016)

MANITOBA:
The conventional wisdom in radio is that if you play current music and some older music, you must also play everything in between, but a Winnipeg radio station is trying a different course. Corus Entertainment's CJGV-FM/99.1 has become "Peggy @ 99.1" with a playlist that's about half current and recent Adult Contemporary hits and about half `80s hits, but almost nothing from the `90s or early 2000's. The switch from CJGV's five-year-old "Fresh" branding, which RadioInsight reports came on Christmas Day at 5 p.m., followed a month and a half of Christmas music. "Fresh" had run a Hot Adult Contemporary format but placed last among the Peg's commercial radio stations in the Numeris Fall (September 5-October 30, 2016) 12+ ratings. (12/25/2016)

WISCONSIN:
DTV America's WZCK-LD (Madison-Middleton) is now on the air with seven channels on virtual channel 8. The station, formerly analog W08CK, broadcasts with 8.4kW on channel 36. Its channels include Cozi TV, GetTV, Sonlife, American Sports Network, Liquidation Channel, QVC, and QVC Plus. (12/23/2016)

WISCONSIN:
Friday (Dec. 23) was Mike Kearns Day in La Crosse as the longtime broadcaster retired from his morning shift on WKTY/580. Kearns had worked for the station for 44 years and had taken over the "Lead Balloon Show" that his father, Charlie, started when the station signed on in 1948. Some of Kearns' memories are recounted in a story on WKTY's website. Dave Carney and Matt Skradie will take over the WKTY morning show next week. (12/23/2016)

WISCONSIN:
The sale of an FM translator is poised to settle a legal dispute between several broadcasters. Scott Thompson, owner of Big Radio, had filed a civil lawsuit against Sister Grace Inc. last February, alleging that Thompson had a deal to buy W239CD/95.7 (Beloit) from Sister Grace, but Sister Grace decided to sell it to David Magnum instead. Thompson also filed a petition to deny the FCC application to transfer W239CD's license. Now, Thompson has reached a deal to buy W222AU/92.3 (Beloit) from Magnum for $50,000. A settlement agreement says Thompson will drop his lawsuit and petition to deny the transfer of W239CD's license. The application to transfer W222AU's license states that it will relay Big Radio's WBEL/1380 (South Beloit). (12/22/2016)

MICHIGAN:
"Eagle Country 105.7" (WCUP L'Anse) has moved its transmitter from a site south of L'Anse to Hancock, strengthening its coverage of Houghton-Hancock and Keweenaw County but weakening the signal in rural areas of the southwestern Upper Peninsula. The new transmitter site is shared with sister station "The Rockin' Eagle" (WGLI/98.7 Hancock), which also got a slignt upgrade as part of the project -- both stations now use 100kW/176m (C1). They're owned by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. (12/20/2016)

MINNESOTA:
Low-power FM station KPPS-LP/97.5 (St. Louis Park) has applied to change frequency to escape interference from a future translator station and a signal from out of town. KPPS, owned by Park Public Radio, has applied to move to 88.9 and upgrade to 85W/33m from a tower slightly to the east of its present location, adding parts of southwest Minneapolis and Uptown to its main coverage area. The request comes after the FCC granted the University of Northwestern-St. Paul a construction permit for W248CU/97.5, which is to relay KTIS/900 from a site in St. Paul. KPPS also says in its application that it has encountered interference from KNXR/97.5 (Rochester) during testing. (12/19/2016)

IOWA:
Translator K274CV/102.7 (Ottumwa) is on the air relaying the News/Talk format of KBIZ/1240. The format includes more than five hours of daily local programming, Clark Howard, Dave Ramsey, and political talk at night. The translator was moved down from Eagle Grove under the FCC's AM revitalization window. KBIZ is part of the six-station O-Town Communications group, doing business as Ottumwa Radio. (12/18/2016)

NEBRASKA:
New low-power FM station KXNB-LP/101.3 (Omaha) has signed on as "Mind and Soul 101.3," serving the African-American community with talk, news, and a playlist including Classic Hip-Hop, R&B, Funk, and Jazz. The 11-Watt station is owned by the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation and will share time and transmitter facilities with KJSO-LP, owned by the North Omaha Loves Jazz Cultural Arts and Humanities Complex. (12/18/2016)

MINNESOTA/WISCONSIN:
Midwest Communications has signed on two new FM translators in the Twin Ports: W251CD/98.1 (Superior-Duluth) relays WDSM/710 (Superior-Duluth), while W280FB/103.9 (Duluth) relays KDAL/610 (Duluth). Both translators broadcast from the Duluth antenna farm with 250 Watts, enough to deliver a good signal across the Twin Ports area. They were moved in from Moose Lake and Chippewa Falls, respectively, under the FCC's AM revitalization window. Midwest will have six FM signals in Duluth with the launch of these translators and the pending purchase of Classic Rocker KQDS-FM/94.9 (Duluth), which received FCC approval last month. Both WDSM and KDAL carry News/Talk formats, with WDSM focusing on conservative politics and KDAL leaning towards non-political and local information-based programming. Duluth is the only market where Midwest runs two News/Talk formats. (12/14/2016)

IOWA:
The permittee of a new non-commercial FM station in eastern Iowa is seeking a waiver to add Cedar Rapids to its main coverage area. The current construction permit for Plus Charities' KMMK/88.7 (Coggon) calls for a 5kW/95m (class A) facility serving an area north of Cedar Rapids. KMMK is now seeking a "Raleigh waiver" to upgrade to 25kW/94m (class C3), adding most of Cedar Rapids to its 60 dbu contour. The upgrade would increase the population of KMMK's 60 dbu contour by 750 percent to 194,927 people. The waiver would be needed because KMMK is too close to KCCK-FM/88.3 (Cedar Rapids) and KXGM-FM/89.1 (Hiawatha-Cedar Rapids) to upgrade under normal circumstances. A "Raleigh waiver" allows such an upgrade for non-commercial FM stations when the actual interference to other non-commercial stations would be minimal. KMMK is not yet on the air and has a March 2018 construction deadline. (12/11/2016)

WISCONSIN:
New FM translator W224DE/92.7 (Janesville) is on the air relaying the News/Talk format of WCLO/1230. WCLO's lineup includes more than nine hours of local programming per day, plus non-political syndicated talk and CBS News. The stations are owned by Southern Wisconsin Broadcasting, LLC, a subsidiary of Bliss Communications. (12/11/2016)

WISCONSIN:
Wisconsin Public Radio's Superior bureau now has just the second regional manager in its quarter-century history. Longtime Bureau head John Munson is due to retire in a few weeks, and the network has hired Paul Damberg to take his spot. Damberg, who started Dec. 5, worked at the University of Minnesota Duluth's KUMD/103.3 for 17 years and was more recently at Lake Superior College. The bureau is located on the UW-Superior campus and is home to KUWS/91.3 and four other WPR stations in the region. Munson has done just about everything you can think of at the bureau, including training students, teaching classes, calling hockey games, hosting public affairs programs, working on community events, and serving as a statewide fill-in announcer for WPR's Ideas Network. One of his last major accomplishments was the construction of three new state-of-the-art studios at the bureau this year. Your reporter was fortunate to learn from Munson in the 1990's, and Munson was kind enough not to show your reporter the door when he pushed the limits several times. The unique college-public radio model that Munson helped create at KUWS helped launch numerous media careers and will likely continue to launch careers for years to come. (12/6/2016)

NEBRASKA:
The FCC's Audio Division has rescinded its earlier grant of a new FM signal in Omaha. The new 99-Watt translator on 95.3 was to have relayed Scripps' KXSP/590. It was being moved from Schuyler, where it is currently licensed as K276FB, under the AM revitalization window. The translator originally applied to move to 96.5 on Omaha but changed its proposed frequency to 95.3 after an informal objection from the owner of KSOM/96.5 (Audubon, IA). After the construction permit was issued for 95.3, Hawkeye Communications --- owner of KCSI/95.3 (Villisca-Red Oak) -- filed a petition for reconsideration, presenting evidence that it had existing listeners within the translator's planned coverage area. The FCC granted KCSI's petition for reconsideration and rescinded the grant of the 95.3 translator in a letter last week. Flood Communications, the owner of the translator, had already received FCC approval to sell it to Scripps, but it's not clear if that deal will be consummated now that the translator can't make a one-step move to Omaha. The AM revitalization filing window is closed. (12/4/2016)

NEW FM TRANSLATORS ON THE AIR:
Many more new FM translator signals have signed on in the Upper Midwest, most of which were moved to their current location under the FCC's AM revitalization window. Some may have been on the air for a few months already:

  • Burlington, IA: K257GC/99.3, 250W, News/Talk from KBUR/1490.
  • Sioux Center, IA: K268CZ/101.5, 250W, Oldies from KSOU/1090.
  • Iron Mountain, MI: W290CO/105.9, 70W, Christian from WRVM/102.7 (Suring).
  • Grand Rapids, MN: K256CW/99.1, 70W, Christian Hits from "The Refuge" (WJRF/89.5 Duluth).
  • Park Rapids, MN: K263BR/100.5, 250W, News/Talk and Classic Country from KPRM/870.
  • Scottsbluff, NE: K262CU/100.3, 250W, News/Farm/Talk from KNEB/960.
  • Fargo, ND: K224FD/92.7, 250W, Sports from "Bison 1660." (92.7 had been occupied for more than two decades by what is now KBMW-FM/92.7 [Breckenridge-Wahpeton] after its move out of the market.)
  • Appleton, WI: W278AU/103.5, 250W, News/Talk from WHBY/1150.
  • Clintonville, WI: W235CQ/94.9, 230W, Sports from WOTE/1380. (Remains licensed to Wausau.)
  • La Crosse, WI: K244FM/96.7, 250W, Sports from WKTY/580.
  • Middleton, WI: W247CI/97.3, 40W, Catholic from WHFA/1240 (Poynette). (12/4/2016)

ONTARIO:
The last remaining Canadian broadcast TV signal between Thunder Bay and Winnipeg, a distance of about 600km (375 miles) by air, is poised to sign off permanently. Last month, Shaw Communications withdrew its application to renew the license of CJBN-TV/13 (Kenora), saying that it intends to close the station. CJBN is an extremely small station, broadcasting only in analog with 178 Watts. Most of its programming is relayed from Global TV affiliate CKND-DT/9 (Winnipeg). Cartt.ca reports that a company spokesperson said three people would lose their jobs when the station signs off Jan. 27, and the two weekly programs that currently air on CJBN will continue to run on Shaw's local cable channel. Global network programming will still be available on cable from CKND. It's not likely that many people are still watching CJBN's broadcast signal since it's the only one left in Kenora after the CBC and TV Ontario shut down their local transmitters in 2012. Virtually all other northwestern Ontario communities outside of Thunder Bay lost all broadcast TV service at that time, except for the U.S. signals that can be received in Fort Frances. (12/2/2016)

MINNESOTA:
An AM Oldies station will get an FM signal in St. Paul as a result of a translator trade. Educational Media Foundation's W221BS/92.1 (Waite-St. Paul) will be transferred to Gregory Borgen's 630 Radio Inc. in exchange for K288GR/105.5 (Bayport, MN-Hudson, WI). W221BS currently carries EMF's "Air 1" network, transmitting with 55 Watts from St. Paul, but is no longer needed to carry that network following the upgrade of W225AP/92.9 (St. Paul-Minneapolis), which also carries "Air 1." The applications to transfer the licenses state that W221BS will relay Borgen's Oldies-formatted WDGY/740 (Hudson-St. Paul) following the transfer, while K288GR will relay iHeartMedia's KFXN-FM/100.3 -- presumably the KFXN-FM-HD3 feed carrying EMF's "K-Love" network. K288GR had been relaying Borgen's WREY/630 (St. Paul), which recently got a better signal with the launch of W235CT/94.9 (St. Paul). The deal calls for K288GR to continue transmitting from WDGY's tower site east of Hudson.

Editor's note: If you're wondering "Where is Waite?" you're not alone. It does not appear there is any place called Waite, Minnesota, nor is there a neighborhood going by that name in St. Paul or Minneapolis. There is a City of Waite Park in central Minnesota, far outside of W221BS' coverage area, and a community center called the Waite House in Minneapolis, bit it's not clear if "Waite" refers to either one of those. There is no community of license showing for translators, meaning applicants don't have to prove that the proposed community of license exists or would be within the translator's coverage area. (12/2/2016)

MINNESOTA:
Lamke Broadcasting is adding a second FM signal to its existing Grand Rapids AM-FM combo with the purchase of KBAJ/105.5 (Deer River) from Red Rock Radio. Lamke will pay $200,000 for KBAJ and will begin operating the station under a local marketing agreement on Jan. 1, 2017. Lamke also owns Oldies-formatted KOZY/1320 (Grand Rapids) and Adult Contemporary outlet KMFY/96.9 (Grand Rapids). KBAJ currently relays the Classic Rock format of KQDS-FM/94.9 (Duluth), which Red Rock is in the process of selling to Midwest Communications; the deal received FCC approval earlier this month. Red Rock still has an AM and two FM's in Duluth and an AM in Eveleth after a total of five sales this year, including KBAJ. (11/30/2016)

ALL-CHRISTMAS UPDATE (AGAIN!):
At least 69 Upper Midwest radio stations are now playing all-Christmas formats, which is a half-dozen more than had flipped by this time last year. Some of Santa's statistics:

  • Fargo and Omaha both have three major FM signals carrying all-Christmas formats. (Since the post here on Nov. 28, your reporter has been told of the third Christmas station in Omaha, which plays Country Christmas.)
  • Bismarck is the only rated market in the Upper Midwest with no all-Christmas station. It's been several years since Bismarck had an all-Christmas format, and that was on a non-commercial outlet.
  • The other rated markets with no commercial stations carrying Christmas formats this year include Green Bay, Wausau, Duluth, and Rapid City.
See the 2016 All-Christmas Stations page for a complete list. (11/29/2016)

WISCONSIN:
On the day before Thanksgiving, Christmas music is already over at one of the first stations in the region to adopt the format this season. iHeartMedia launched a 70's-based Classic Hits format as "Rewind 92.1" on WXXM (Sun Prairie-Madison) on Wednesday, ending a two-week stunt with Christmas music as "Best FM." "Rewind" will have a monopoly on the format for the next month since Entercom Classic Hits outlet WOLX/94.9 (Baraboo-Madison) is now in all-Christmas mode. Non-commercial Contemporary Christian station "Life 102.5" (WNWC-FM Madison) is also due to go all-Christmas on Thanksgiving Day at Noon. (11/23/2016)

ALL-CHRISTMAS UPDATE:
On the Monday before Thanksgiving, at least 25 Upper Midwest radio stations are running all-Christmas formats, which is five more than this time last year. Flips over the weekend included iHeartMedia's "Kool 108" (KQQL/107.9 Anoka-Minneapolis) and a new entrant, WVBO/103.9 (Winneconne-Oshkosh), which had run Christmas music on the weekends in previous years but then gone back to its regular format during the week. Another ten stations are promoting flips later this week. See the 2016 All-Christmas Stations page for a complete list. (11/21/2016)

MINNESOTA:
The FCC has granted another two FM signals for the Twin Cities area after two broadcasters resolved a frequency conflict. Salem Media and the University of Northwestern-St. Paul had both applied for translators on 107.5, relaying Salem's WWTC/1280 and Northwestern's KTIS/900.

Northwestern recently modified its application to 97.5, transmitting with 250 Watts from Wells Fargo Place in St. Paul, and the application was then granted. 97.5 will use a highly directional antenna pattern to limit the signal towards KPPS-LP/97.5 (St. Louis Park). KTIS is also relayed on K214DF/90.7, which transmits from downtown Minneapolis.

Meanwhile, Salem's application for 107.5 was also approved. That translator will broadcast with 250 Watts from WWTC's tower site in St. Louis Park.

There are now 35 licenses or construction permits for FM translators or low-power FM stations in the greater metro area; see the Twin Cities Class D/LPFM Stations page for a complete list. (11/20/2016)

MINNESOTA/WISCONSIN:
Besides the two translators listed above, other new FM translators granted last week include:

  • Duluth, MN: WQRM/850, 99.7, 250W
  • Madison, WI: WLMV/1480, 94.5, 250W
  • Madison, WI: WOZN/1670, 96.7, 230W
See the 2016 AM Revitalization Translators, Round 1 and Round 2 pages for the status of all of the translator filings under the windows for 250-mile moves this year. (11/20/2016)

MINNESOTA/WISCONSIN:
Two longtime journalists have announced plans to retire from Duluth NBC/CBS affiliate KBJR-TV (Superior-Duluth). The station announced Friday during its annual Christmas City of the North Parade that anchor Michelle Lee will retire at the end of the year, and news director Barbara Reyelts will retire next year. Reyelts has been with the station since 1979, and Lee joined KBJR since 1990 and was at KDLH/3 for seven years prior to that. KBJR is owned by Quincy Media. (11/20/2016)

IOWA:
After years of legal wrangling, the FCC says Townsquare Media can become the licensee of several FM stations in the Waterloo market. KKHQ-FM/92.3 (Oelwein-Waterloo), KCRR/97.7 (Grundy Center-Waterloo), and KOEL-FM/98.5 (Cedar Falls-Waterloo) were placed into the Cedar Rapids Divestiture Trust when Townsquare bought the former Cumulus groups in the Waterloo and Cedar Rapids markets a few years ago. That's because the stations had been moved, on paper, to the Cedar Rapids market in 2012. Nielsen Audio later reassigned the stations to the Waterloo market, but the FCC said last year that the stations couldn't be sold back to Townsquare until May 2016 due to a rule that requires a two-year waiting period when market boundaries are changed. The applications to transfer the licenses were reinstated earlier this year, and approved last week. (11/20/2016)

SOUTH DAKOTA/WYOMING:
The FCC has granted short-term license renewals for several southwestern South Dakota and Wyoming radio stations that have been silent for much of the past several years. The stations in question are Mount Rushmore Broadcasting's KZMX/580 (Hot Springs), KZMX-FM/96.7 (Hot Springs), and KFCR/1490 (Custer), as well as Wyoming stations KRAL/1240 (Rawlins) and KIQZ/92.7 (Rawlins). Letters from the FCC's Audio Division (KFCR/KZMX-FM/KIQZ letter, KZMX/KRAL letter) say the company's "conduct has fallen far short of that which would warrant routine license renewal." The letters noted that the company "faced a number of difficulties beyond its control and sought Commission authorization for each station's periods of silence" but said that the stations can't serve the public interest when they're not on the air. The stations' licenses, along with the licenses of two sister stations in Wyoming, were only renewed for two years rather than the usual eight. The letter noted that the FCC would be watching to make sure the stations are complying with federal law. A license renewal application for the company's KAWK/105.1 (Custer) remains pending. (11/20/2016)

MINNESOTA/WISCONSIN/IOWA:
Another new FM signal is on the air in the Twin Cities: W235CT/94.9 (St. Paul) relays the "Radio Rey" Regional Mexican format of WREY/630 (St. Paul). W235CT transmits from the Wells Fargo Center in downtown St. Paul with 250 Watts, providing a good signal to the east metro. It was moved into the metro under the FCC's AM revitalization window. WREY's primary competitor, "La Raza" KMNV/1400 (St. Paul), also has a construction permit for a new translator on 95.7.

Other recent FM translator sign-ons include:

  • Mason City, IA: K244FA/96.7, relaying Soft Oldies from KRIB/1490
  • Litchfield, MN: W240DD/95.9, carrying News and a variety of music from KLFD/1410
  • Shawano, WI: W243CM/96.5, relaying ESPN Radio from WOTE/1380 (Clintonville)
  • Madison, WI: W249DH/97.7, relaying Classic Country from WHIT/1550
  • Racine/Kenosha, WI: W251BU/98.1 (Kenosha) and W260CV/99.9 (Racine), relaying News and Classic Hits from WRJN/1400 (Racine) (11/17/2016)

MINNESOTA:
KQSP/1530 (Shakopee-Minneapolis) has gone off the air, citing financial problems in a notification of suspension of operations filed with the FCC. The station went silent on Oct. 26. The filing says KQSP has operated at a financial loss for the past several years and its owner, Yong W. Kim's Broadcast One, is pursuing "all possible avenues for KQSP to successfully resume operations." The station is currently licensed for 8.6kW daytime but just 10 Watts at night from a tower site in the southwestern suburb of Chanhassen. It has had a few construction permits to upgrade its daytime signal in recent years, but the current permit expires later this month. KQSP had carried a Tropical format called "La Picosa," which continues to stream online. The operators of that format say on their website that they will return "very soon" and mention the possibility of an FM signal. (11/17/2016)

ALL-CHRISTMAS UPDATE:
`Tis the season for stations to begin going all-Christmas, but one station that's made the flip every year for a decade isn't feeling the holiday spirit this year. Townsquare Media Classic Hits outlet "Kool 101.7" (KLDJ Duluth) says in response to a listener question on its Facebook page that it won't go all-Christmas, but will sprinkle Christmas songs into its regular playlist and offer a Christmas web strem. Meanwhile, non-commercial Contemporary Christian outlet "Life 97.3" (KDNW Duluth) is promoting a flip to all-Christmas coinciding with the annual Christmas City of the North Parade this Friday (11/18). Elsewhere, Fargo's "Mix 101.9" (KRWK) flipped Sunday (11/13) and at least a half-dozen other Upper Midwest stations are promoting flips to take place over the next week; see the 2016 All-Christmas Stations page for a complete list. (11/14/2016)

WISCONSIN:
WPCN/1010 (Stevens Point) and its FM translator, W221CN/92.1, have dropped Talk and Sports for Scott Shannon's "True Oldies Channel" network. The station continues to carry a local morning talk show. Its most recent lineup had included Jonathon Brandmeier, Clark Howard, and CBS Sports Radio in afternoons, nights, and weekends. Several years ago, WPCN had carried "True Oldies" in overnight and weekend timeslots. The network was also carried on sister Muzzy Broadcast Group station WSPT/97.9 (Stevens Point), which moved to Classic Hits a few years ago. (11/9/2016)

WISCONSIN:
iHeartMedia's WXXM/92.1 (Sun Prairie-Madison) has dropped its 12-year-old Liberal Talk format, which had been called "The Mic," and is now running classic Christmas music as "Best FM." iHeart uses the "Best FM" brand with `80s Hits formats in a few other markets. Though the flip was almost simultaneous with an election that saw Democrats Hillary Clinton and Russ Feingold lose in Wisconsin, RadioInsight notes that the change had actually been in the works for weeks. The Liberal Talk format survived longer at WXXM than at most other stations, continuing after an aborted plan to flip to Sports in 2007 and the sign-off of Air America Radio in 2010.

WXXM is at least the third Upper Midwest station to go all-Christmas this season. Follow the 2016 All-Christmas Stations page for updates throughout the season. (11/9/2016)

WISCONSIN:
Zoe Communications' WLMX-FM/104.9 (Balsam Lake) has switched from Variety Hits "Mix 105" to Classic Hits of the 1970s and 80s as "Max 104.9." The change follows Zoe's purchase of WLMX and four other stations from Red Rock Radio; WLMX is the fourth of the five to change format. WLMX had used the "Mix" slogan for most of its 19-year history, first with Adult Contemporary and later with Variety Hits. Its main coverage area extends from Rice Lake to St. Croix Falls. (11/7/2016)

SECOND AM REVITALIZATION WINDOW CLOSES:
The FCC's second AM revitalization window for 250-mile FM translator moves ended last week with a total of 41 applications in the Upper Midwest, 34 of which have been granted. The last regional application through the gate was from VCY America to move a translator permit from Appleton, WI, to Duluth to relay VCY's WQRM/850 on 99.7. Among the applications that remain pending are Salem Media and the University of Northwestern-St. Paul's duelling applications for 107.5 in the Twin Cities area. Meanwhile, the only application granted last week under the window was for a translator to move to Hayward, WI, to relay WHSM/910 on 96.9. See the 2016 AM Revitalization Translators, Round 1 and Round 2 pages for a full rundown of all of the translator filings under the windows for 250-mile moves this year. There will be more windows next year for AM stations to apply for new FM translator licenses, rather than move them. (11/6/2016)

MINNESOTA:
Two Brainerd-area radio stations have changed format after R&J Broadcasting began operating the Red Rock Radio stations in the market. WWWI-FM/95.9 (Pillager) has dropped its rebroadcast of Classic Rocker KQDS-FM/94.9 (Duluth) in favor of Classic Country as "Cash 95." Meanwhile, WWWI/1270 (Baxter) has dropped NBC Sports Radio and is now rebroadcasting "Talk 100" (KLKS/100.1 Pequot Lakes). The KLKS lineup had been heard on WWWI prior to its flip to Sports. The stations apparently have no web or social media presence. They are among eight that R&J is buying from Red Rock from $1.185 million; R&J is operating the stations under a local programming marketing agreement while the deal awaits FCC approval. (11/6/2016)

MINNESOTA:
Troy Paskvan's KPMI/1300 (Bemidji) has switched from Sports to Classic Country as "Legends 1300." The new format includes Imus in the Morning and news updates from FOX, ABC, and GoMN (formerly Bring Me the News). Roger Paskvan's WBJI/98.3 (Blackduck-Bemidji) had previously played some Classic Country but segued to more current songs as "Babe Country 98.3" (named for Paul Bunyan's blue ox) earlier this year. (11/6/2016)

MINNESOTA:
The FCC is considering a proposal from the Red Lake Nation to allot 105.3 to Red Lake, northwest of Bemidji, for a future class C1 commercial station. Tribal priority is being sought for the allotment. The Nation had first applied for the frequency last year, proposing a 100kW/192m facility using from a new tower north of Clearbrook. It would deliver a city-grade signal to most of the Red Lake Reservation and a rimshot signal to both Bemidji and Thief River Falls. Comments on the proposed allotment are being taken until Dec. 26. (11/6/2016)

IOWA:
iHeartMedia's "Classic Country 1360" (KMJM Cedar Rapids) is apparently the first station in the Upper Midwest to go all-Christmas this year, at least partially. Since at least Tuesday (11/1), the station has been playing nothing but Christmas music except for three hours in morning drive. KMJM last went all-Christmas in 2013. Across town, Townsquare Media's KDAT/104.5 has gone all-Christmas every year since at least 2002 and has flipped on the Friday or Monday before Christmas every year since 2009.

Elsewhere in Iowa, iHeartMedia's "Mix 96" (KMXG/96.1 Clinton-Quad Cities) says on Facebook that it will be flipping to Christmas before Thanksgiving, and iHeartMedia's "KG95" (KGLI/95.5 Sioux City) has a Facebook post suggesting its flip will happen on Nov. 18. (11/2/2016)

IOWA:
The FCC has declined two commercial broadcasters' request to rescind the construction permit for new low-power FM station KCOD-LP/104.1 (Decorah) but has directed its Media Bureau to conduct "further investigative and enforcement proceedings" against the permittee, Community Radio of Decorah, Postville and Northeast Iowa. In a memorandum opinion and order, the Commission said it was concerned about the issues raised. The point of contention is that Community Radio's James Glesne was still listed as a member of the board of directors of the Postville Chamber of Commerce, the licensee of KPVL/89.1 (Postville), when the application for the Decorah LPFM station was filed, but Community Radio's application indicated that Glesne had no other broadcast interests. Glesne later indicated that he had resigned from the Chamber's board. The FCC now says that while it sees no reason to revoke the permit, the Media Bureau's admonishment of Community Radio for its handling of the situation was inadequate and that the Bureau should begin a "further letter of inquiry, designed to determine the appropriate enforcement proceedings." The FCC also directed the Media Bureau to end its unofficial practice of allowing construction permit deadlines for LPFM stations to be extended even when the original deadline has passed. (11/2/2016)

News archive...

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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: TV meteorologist John Malan to retire (1/9)
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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Longtime sportscaster Tom Pipines to retire (1/5)
Star Tribune: WDGY Radio personality, 'Bowling for Dollars' host Johnny Canton dies (1/1)
Duluth News Tribune: As KBJR's Michelle Lee signs off, she looks to the future (12/25)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: John Jagler plans 'interim' return to WTMJ-AM (12/21)
Oskaloosa Herald: KBOE hires popular radio host Steve Pilchen for new morning show (12/10)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee PBS getting into storyteller mode (12/9)
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Star Tribune: Twin Cities Public Television to launch new Kids Channel (11/23)
WCCO-TV: Tafoya & Barnard Proving To Be Electric Pairing For KQRS (11/21)
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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee PBS' '10thirtysix' to debut Friday (11/15)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Katrina Cravy joins WKLH morning crew (11/2)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee Public TV changes name to Milwaukee PBS (11/1)
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