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SPECTRUM AUCTION: RF channel changes in the Upper Midwest

MANITOBA:
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)

IOWA:
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)

WISCONSIN:
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)

LOW-POWER TV LICENSES SOLD:
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)

IOWA/NEBRASKA/WISCONSIN:
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)

NORTH DAKOTA:
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)

WISCONSIN:
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)

WISCONSIN:
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)

MINNESOTA:
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)

MINNESOTA:
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)

MINNESOTA:
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)

MINNESOTA:
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)

MINNESOTA/WISCONSIN:
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)

TV SPECTRUM AUCTION REPACK:
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)

MINNESOTA:
"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)

IOWA:
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)

NORTH DAKOTA:
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)

MANITOBA:
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)

NEBRASKA:
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)

MICHIGAN:
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)

NORTH DAKOTA:
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)

WISCONSIN:
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...

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