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SPECTRUM AUCTION: RF channel changes in the Upper Midwest

A northeast Twin Cities metro church that bought a southeast metro FM signal last year is now buying a northeast metro FM signal to go with it. Maranatha Assembly of God Church will pay Refuge Media Group $50,000 for W219DT/91.7 (North Branch). W219DT has relayed the Christian Hits "Refuge" format from WJRF (Duluth) since its 2007 sign-on, originally on 91.9. The application to transfer the license states that W219DT will relay the church's WAJC/88.1 (Newport). WAJC's 5.52kW signal, transmitting from Coates, does not reach Forest Lake, though the station's Facebook page says its main studio is in Forest Lake. Simultaneously with the application to transfer W219DT's license, the translator applied to move its transmitter south to Stacy, which is closer to Forest Lake. (7/19/2017)

A sizeable new FM signal is on the air in rural northwestern Minnesota: We Have This Hope Christian Radio's KOLJ-FM/91.7 (Warroad) has moved to 91.1, bumping up its power from 250W to 75kW in the process. The station moved its transmitter from Warroad to a site south near Wannaska, delivering a strong signal to Roseau and a region of sparsely-populated farmland and forests with few other strong signals. KOLJ uses a directional antenna to limit the signal towards CKXL-FM/91.1 (St. Boniface-Winnipeg). It simulcasts Christian programming, including LifeTalk Radio Network, with several other northern Minnesota stations. (7/18/2017)

WJJH/96.7 (Ashland) has switched from mainstream Rock to Classic Rock, keeping its longtime "J96" slogan. WJJH had carried Classic Rock for decades until switching to mainstream Rock in 2010. It's one of four stations owned by Heartland Communications in the Ashland area, with the others carrying Country, Classic Hits, and Conservative Talk. (7/17/2017)

KMHL/1400 (Marshall) is off the air after a Friday morning fire at its transmitter, which is adjacent to the studio facility for KMHL and three FM sister stations. The station reports that work had been done on the tower Thursday and the suspected cause is electrical. KMHL's News/Talk format continues to be heard on translator K269GR/101.7, which the article says was just moved to the KMHL tower from rural Vesta. As previously reported, KMHL Broadcasting's KKCK/99.7 (Marshall) has also been off the air for a few months while its tower near Lake Benton is reconstructed after a December 2015 windstorm; KKCK's Contemporary Hits format is temporarily being heard on KNSG/94.7 (Springfield). (7/15/2017)

The FCC has approved a plan to change a longtime Eau Claire station's community of license to a nearby rural community so a sister station can improve its signal to the city. Mid-West Management's WIAL/94.1 will change its community of license from Eau Claire to Elk Mound, allowing WECL/92.9 to change its community of license from Elk Mound to Lake Hallie. WECL will also move its transmitter to the WIAL site in the Town of Seymour, just outside Eau Claire, with 5.8kW/91m. WIAL will retain its current 100kW facility.

WECL carries an Active Rock format as "The X" and WIAL carries Adult Contemporary as "I94." Content on the two stations will not have to change since the FCC does not require any particular programming to serve communities of license, other than the legal ID, but it does not approve applications that remove a community's only license.

WECL has been the only station licensed to Elk Mound, population 878. The Village of Lake Hallie, a recently-incorporated suburban area between Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls, has no other full-power radio licenses, though WOGO/680 and WWIB/103.7 are both licensed to the Town of Hallie, from which the Village of Lake Hallie was carved. (7/11/2017)

The FCC has dismissed an application to move an FM translator into the Twin Cities over concerns about interference to an existing low-power FM station. During last year's AM revitalization filing window, Hubbard Radio applied to move a translator license from Bemidji to Minneapolis, where it would have transmitted on 94.1 with 10 Watts from the IDS Center. The translator would've relayed Hubbard's "1500 ESPN" (KSTP St. Paul) and would've used a directional antenna to limit the signal towards WFNU-LP/94.1 (St. Paul). WFNU objected, saying the proposed translator would prevent reception by some current listeners. The FCC has now decided that WFNU has provided sufficient evidence of WFNU listenership within the translator's proposed coverage area and dismissed the application. (7/9/2017)

The FCC has approved a plan to downgrade one FM station so Armada Media's Radio Results Network can add another FM station in the Escanaba market while complying with ownership caps. Armada's WCMM/102.5 (Gulliver) cut power from 100kW to 60kW so its city-grade coverage area would not overlap with WMXG/106.3 (Stephenson), which Armada's AMC Escanaba Parters LLC is buying from the Estate of Lyle Evans. The FCC recently approved both WCMM's downgrade and the sale of WMXG. WCMM carries a Country format known as "The Moose," while Armada is programming a Classic Country format on WMXG as "The Maverick" under a local marketing agreement. (7/9/2017)

Paradis Broadcasting's KXRZ/99.3 (Alexandria) has upgraded from 6kW/85m (class A) to 12kW/82m (class C3). The upgrade improves KXRZ's signal to outlying communities such as Osakis, Sauk Centre, and Glenwood. The station carries a Hot Adult Contemporary format as "Z99." (7/9/2017)

Alpha Media has signed on 130-Watt translator K268DF/101.5 (Lincoln) relaying the Sports format of KLMS/1480, which includes ESPN Radio and the Jim Rome Show. The translator license was moved west from Iowa a sa result of last year's AM revitalization filing window. (7/9/2017)

Real Presence Radio's KZTW/104.1 (Tioga-Williston) is operating at reduced power after a lightning strike. The station normally uses 100kW at 160m above average terrain, but tells the FCC it is currently using 800 Watts at 90m after the lightning strike destroyed its antenna and damaged its transmitter. A request for special temporary authority says the station plans to return to full power within six months. Real Presence Radio is a non-commercial Catholic network. (7/9/2017)

Agnus Dei Communications, operator of the Catholic-formatted "Lamb Radio," has returned two of its rural South Dakota licenses to the FCC. KTUT/89.5 (Frankfort) and KSJW/100.9 (Murdo) had both been licensed for the FCC minimum of 100 Watts but had upgrade potential; KTUT had a construction permit to increase to 67kW/172m. "The Lamb Radio" is still heard on KSTJ/91.3 (Hartford), KSTJ-LP/104.3 (Sioux Falls), and KSJP/88.9 (Ipswich-Aberdeen). (7/9/2017)

Midwest Communications has signed on 250-Watt translator W236CO/95.1 relaying the News/Talk format of WSAU/550 (Wausau). The translator was moved in from Marshfield and remains licensed to that city, though it now transmits from Wausau. WSAU's programming is also relayed on WSAU-FM/99.9 (Rudolph-Stevens Point). (7/9/2017)

New Twin Cities FM translator W248CU/97.5 has signed on relaying the "Faith Radio" format of KTIS/900. W248CU is licensed to Minneapolis but transmits from downtown St. Paul with 250W directional, augmenting FM coverage of Faith Radio already available from K214DF/90.7, which transmits from downtown Minneapolis. The translator license was moved down from the Iron Range as a result of last year's AM revitalization filing window.

W248CU's sign-on has prompted KPPS-LP/97.5 (St. Louis Park) to request special temporary authority to increase its power from 50 Watts to 100 Watts, alleging "destructive interference" from W248CU within KPPS-LP's protected contour. The FCC quickly denied the request, saying increases in power are not granted through special temporary authority. KPPS-LP has also filed an informal objection to W248CU's license to cover application. The low-power station has a construction permit to move to 88.9 but says the cost of the change will be in the tens of thousands of dollars. (7/5/2017, updated with STA denial 7/6)

Cozi TV has added a primary, full-power affiliation in Milwaukee on WIWN/68.1. The station began carrying the classic TV network in mid-June. WIWN is licensed to Fond du Lac but transmits from Milwaukee on RF channel 5, remapping to channel 68. SonLife Broadcast Network, formerly seen on 68.1, has moved to 68.8; WIWN also carries home shopping, infomercials, and LATV on its other subchannels. Cozi TV had previously been seen on channel 4.3 of WTMJ-TV (Milwaukee) and channel 38.3 of WTSJ-LD (Milwaukee). (7/5/2017)

A much-belated note that the Contemporary Hits format of KKCK/99.7 (Marshall) is temporarily being heard on co-owned KNSG/94.7 (Springfield-Marshall) while work is underway at the KKCK transmitter site. KKCK's tower near Lake Benton was toppled in a December 2015 storm, and the station has had a reduced coverage area since then. KNSG began simulcasting KKCK in late April, and the tower work began in May. KNSG normally carries Classic Hits and has more of a Minnesota coverage area than KKCK, which delivers a city-grade signal to the Brookings, SD, area when it's at full power. KKCK's new antenna height will be reduced from 282m to 213m above average terrain, but the 100kW signal will still reach most places it did before. (6/30/2017)

Sinclair Broadcast Group now says it may have to spin off a station in Des Moines and will take a Milwaukee station off the air to comply with ownership caps as part of its purchase of Tribune Broadcasting.

In Des Moines, Tribune owns NBC affiliate WHO-DT/13 and Sinclair owns FOX affiliate KDSM/17. Sinclair's CEO had said during a May conference call that the company didn't think it would be required to sell any overlapping stations, but a new filing reveals plans to divest stations in ten markets, including Des Moines, to comply with a rule that prohibits a company from owning more than one of the top four stations in a market. There was no indication which station would be spun off.

In Milwaukee, the filing reveals that Sinclair intends to relinquish the license of MyNetworkTV station WCGV/24.1 as it buys Tribune FOX affiliate WITI/6, which will be co-owned with Sinclair CW affiliate WVTV/18.1. Sinclair sold WCGV's spectrum during the incentive auction but would've been able to retain WCGV's license, virtual channel, and must-carry rights through a channel-sharing agreement. The new filing says that WCGV does not have a channel-sharing agreement with any other station and intends to go off the air.

The deal also includes Tribune ABC affiliate WQAD/8.1 (Moline-Quad Cities); Sinclair does not own any existing stations in the Quad Cities. (6/28/2017)

Townsquare Media's KZRV/96.7 (Sartell-St. Cloud) has dropped Active Rock for Classic Hits as "The River," positioned as "Central Minnesota's Greatest Hits." The `60s to `80s hits format debuted early Tuesday (6/27). It has no direct competition in St. Cloud, but is under the umbrella of iHeartMedia's "Kool 108" (KQQL/107.9 Anoka-Minneapolis) due to KQQL's north metro transmitter location. The previous "Rev" format had been on the air for ten years and worked in tandem with Townsquare Classic Rocker "The Loon" (KLZZ/103.7 Waite Park-St. Cloud) in competition with Tri-County Broadcasting's "Rockin' 101" (WHMH/101.7 Sauk Rapids-St. Cloud). (6/27/2017)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

News archive...

Newspaper/Web Articles

Pioneer Press: Longtime Pioneer Press columnist and 'Rajah of the Records' Bill Diehl dies at 91 (7/19)
Pioneer Press: Barb Abney returns to radio as co-host of new KFAI morning show (7/19)
KFGO's Tom Wynn announces retirement (7/17)
KSTP-TV: Count on Dave: How Forecasting Has Evolved in Dave's 40 Years at KSTP (7/17)
City Pages: KFAI taps Barb Abney, Miss Brit to host new morning show (7/17)
Star Tribune: KARE 11 TV reporter Jay Olstad bids farewell (7/14)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Kathleen Dunn, longtime Wisconsin radio voice, to retire in August (7/5)
Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier: Former state lawmaker to head Waterloo African-American radio station (6/28)
KWWL-TV: Iowa radio station celebrates 50 years (6/27)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: WISN-TV shuffles its weekday morning, weekend news anchors (6/23)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: WRIT-FM makes it 25 straight months at No. 1 overall in Milwaukee radio (5/18)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee CBS affiliate WDJT-TV names a new news director (5/12)
Omaha World-Herald: Spanish language broadcasts of state soccer tournament a hit with Hispanic communities (5/11)
Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier: Reporter cited for Chris Soules video (5/2)
Duluth News Tribune: The Fan 92.1 being sold to new local owner (5/1)
Star Tribune: Longtime anchor Tim McNiff to return to KARE 11 'Sunrise' on Tuesday (4/28)
Star Tribune: Ex-Tom Barnard sidekick Terri Traen no longer working at KQRS (4/25)
Obituary: Michael Phillips, former Eau Claire radio owner and WDGY's "Charlie Van Dyke" (4/16)
Star Tribune: MPR to name its headquarters after founder Bill Kling (4/14)
New York Post: Pranksters sued by TV company over WEAU morning show antics (4/13)
Des Moines Register: Longtime Des Moines radio personality Pam Dixon to retire (4/10)
Omaha World-Herald: Radio host, TV weathercaster Frank Bramhall, 83, was a familiar voice in Omaha (4/7)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: WLDB-FM names new morning host, drops CV & Van (4/3)
Star Tribune: How you can cut the cord and discover TV antenna benefits (4/1)
Older articles...