January 2016

The only news-producing TV station in Thunder Bay and all of northwestern Ontario could fold this year, the station's general manager revealed during a regulatory hearing last week.

Dougall Media's Thunder Bay Television consists of CTV affiliate CKPR-DT/2 and Global affiliate CHFD-DT/4, which are the only news-producing TV stations between Winnipeg and Sault Ste. Marie. Current news offerings include a flagship hour-long broadcast at 6 p.m. on CKPR, a half-hour broadcast that airs at 11 p.m. on CHFD and at 11:30 on CKPR, and a half-hour morning show at 9 a.m. on CHFD.

During a hearing about the state of local TV, GM Don Caron told the CRTC that the TV stations are operating off the proceeds of life insurance policies following the deaths of the station's owner and general manager last year, as well as profits from its sister radio stations. "We're the most desperate of the stations sitting here before you," Caron told regulators, saying the TV stations could shut down in September.

CKPR and CHFD, known jointly as TBT, are among 29 stations that the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting say could shut down this year unless regulators restore the Local Program Improvement Fund, which existed from 2009 to 2014. The group says small Canadian stations are suffering from a combination of economic challenges, audience behavior changes, the removal of regulatory protections, and the loss of public subsidies.

Canadian stations can't negotiate for retransmission consent fees and don't have as many programming protections as their U.S. counterparts. Multiple out-of-market feeds of each Canadian and U.S. network are available on cable and satellite, with CKPR and CHFD carried on three-digit satellite channels buried among dozens of out-of-market stations. On cable, TBT competes with the major Minneapolis stations, five other CTV affiliates, and two other Global affiliates.

CKPR has been able to benefit from Canada's "simultaneous substitution" rule since switching from CBC to CTV, which simulcasts a lot of American programming, in 2014. Sim-sub requires cable companies to substitute the local station (including its local commercials) over the top of an American station showing the same program at the same time. This week, it appears about half of the prime-time programming on TBT's two stations will override Minneapolis feeds, as well as six hours of weekday programming in other timeslots.

If CKPR and CHFD do go off the air, the city of 108,000 would be left with just one broadcast TV signal -- the non-commercial TV Ontario network. The city had four TV signals until the CBC shut down a transmitter carrying the French-language Radio-Canada network in 2011. The CBC also chose not to place a TV transmitter in Thunder Bay after CKPR dropped the network, citing a high cable/satellite penetration rate. (1/31/2016)

As the filing window opens for FM translators to move up to 250 miles to relay AM stations, there were several more translator sales filed with the FCC this week:
•O Town Communications (KBIZ/1240 and KLEE/1480 Ottumwa, IA) is buying K267BC (Eagle Grove, IA) from First Ventures Capital Partners for $37,500.
•Milestone Radio LLC (WQPM/1300 Princeton, MN) is buying W217CE (Black River Falls, WI) from First Ventures Capital Partners for $21,950. WQPM is currently relayed on an FM translator owned by Educational Media Foundation.
•Custer County Broadcasting (KCNI/1280 Broken Bow, NE) is buying K250AP (Pierre, SD) from Radio 74 Internationale for $20,000.
•Southern Wisconsin Broadcasting, LLC (WCLO/1230 Janesville, WI) is buying W288CZ (Beaver Dam, WI) from Radio 74 Internationale for $28,000. (1/29/2016)

Covenant Network is selling the construction permits for two new FM translators in eastern Iowa to local Catholic broadcasters. Davenport Educational Assoication, owner of KTJT-LP/102.7 (Davenport), is buying K237FP/95.3 (Davenport) for $20,000. Meanwhile, Divine Mercy Educational Association, owner of KDME-LP/98.3 (Fort Madison), is buying K249EP/97.7 (Fort Madison) for $10,000. Both translators face May 10 construction deadlines. (1/29/2016)

Heartland Christian Broadcasters and Refuge Media are trading FM translators in northern Minnesota. Refuge will get W267AO/101.3 (Chisholm) in exchange for K212FM/90.3 (Warroad) and K253CB/98.5 (Roseau). The Chisholm station has already switched to Refuge's Christian Hits format, while the application states the other two will carry separate Heartland stations. The Warroad station will carry KXBR/91.9 (International Falls) and the Roseau station, which is not yet on the air, will carry KBHW/99.5 (International Falls). Heartland has an existing translator in Warroad carrying KBHW. It no longer needs the Chisholm translator since the area is now served by KBHW satellite KADU/90.1 (Hibbing). (1/29/2016)

Meredith could end up being the next owner of ABC affiliate WBAY-TV/2.1 (Green Bay) and NBC affiliate KWQC/6.1 (Davenport) in the wake of a national sale. WBAY and KWQC owner Media General spurned a merger with Meredith in favor of a sale to Nexstar, which already owns the CBS affiliates in both markets. FCC rules prohibit one company from owning more than one of the top four stations in a market. In Wednesday's announcement, Media General and Nexstar said, "Meredith will receive an opportunity to negotiate for the purchase of certain broadcast and digital assets currently owned by Media General." However, Meredith cautioned that there is no guarantee that it will be able to buy any assets. (1/27/2016)

The Ingstad family has apparently decided that it'd rather have the only FM radio station targetting Breckenridge-Wahpeton rather than the 13th commercial FM station in the Fargo-Moorhead market. In a move first reported by RadioInsight, KZDR/92.7 (Kindred-Fargo) has applied to move south to Breckenridge using 6kW/46m (class A), with KPFX/107.9 changing its community of license from Fargo to Kindred to "backfill" (to comply with an FCC rule that prohibits station moves that leave a community without a license). Meanwhile, Brooke Ingstad's Radio Wahpeton Breckenridge is buying KZDR from Robert Ingstad's Mediactive, LLC for $275,000. As previously reported, Radio Wahpeton Breckenridge is also in the process of buying KBMW/1450 (Breckenridge) and a future FM translator from the Ingstad family's Radio Fargo-Moorhead, which does business as Radio F-M Media. Ironically, there are two other FM stations already licensed to Breckenridge and Wahpeton that target the Fargo market. This would actually be the second time the station currently known as KZDR has changed its market; it was originally KDDR-FM/92.3 (Oakes) and moved into the Fargo market in the early 1990's. KZDR currently carries a Classic Hits format. (1/27/2016)

Flood Communictions' "News Channel Nebraska" TV brand has expanded to Columbus on KMJF-LD/48, joining KNEN-LD/35 (Norfolk). "NCN35" and "NCN48" each feature a separate loop of local news packages, sports, weather, and community interviews, along with local sports broadcasts and Mike'l Severe's afternoon show from the Omaha World Herald. "NCN35" also has carriage on most cable systems in Norfolk and surrounding areas; "NCN48" is launching on Eagle Communications cable systems in communities surrounding Columbus on Tuesday (1/26) but is still working to gain carriage on the Columbus system. The channels are also available via Roku. Both stations also carry Weather Nation TV on subchannels, and KNEN-LD also carries Antenna TV. Flood Communications, headed by longtime broadcaster and former state legislator Mike Flood, also has construction permits for new low-power TV stations in Beatrice, Grand Island, and Hastings. It has radio stations using the "News Channel Nebraska" brand in Norfolk, Beatrice, and Fairbury, as well as radio stations in Omaha and Nebraska City. (1/25/2016)

Sales of FM translators continue to pour in to the FCC ahead of a filing window that will allow FM translators to be moved up to 250 miles to relay AM stations. Here are the most recent license transfer applications:
•Latin World Broadcasting (KDLF/1260 Boone-Des Moines) is buying K234BB (Harlan, IA) from Edgewater Broadcasting for $35,000.
•StarCom, LLC (KASM/1150 Albany, MN) is buying K236BB (Fort Dodge, IA) for $39,450
•K&M Broadcasting (KDWA/1460 Hastings, MN) is buying W280AA (Silver Bay, MN) from Refuge Media for $60,000.
•Q Media Group, LLC (KCUE/1250 Red Wing, MN) is buying K263AL (Madison, MN) from Refuge Media for $75,000.
•Mid-West Management (WAYY/790 Eau Claire and WEAQ/1150 Chippewa Falls-Eau Claire) is buying W221DK (Neillsville, WI) from First Ventures Capital Partners for $35,000.
•Fruit Broadcasting, LLC (WRCO/1450 Richland Center, WI) is buying W269CQ from David M. Stout for $40,000.
•David R. Magnum is buying 11 translators from Sister Grace for $3,000 apiece. They are: W300CM (Appleton, WI), W239CD (Beloit, WI), W286CH (Coleman, WI), W276CO (Fond du Lac, WI), W258CM (Madison, WI), W278BQ (Manitowoc, WI), W286CO (Port Washington, WI), W251BU (Racine, WI), W241BQ (Watertown, WI), W280EN (Rockford, IL), and K287BI (Dumas, AR). Magnum owns six AM stations in Wisconsin through different licensee names. (1/22/2016)

The FCC has approved a plan for two non-commercial stations in the Bismarck area to swap frequencies, allowing each to upgrade. KPHA/91.3 (Mandan) will move to 91.7, upgrading to 25kW/199m (class C2), while KXRP/91.7 (Bismarck) will move to 91.3 and upgrade to 4.2kW/199m (class C3). Both stations will transmit from sites south of Bismarck. Normally, second-adjacent stations (0.4 MHz apart) wouldn't be allowed to have sites that close together, but the stations successfully sought a "Raleigh Waiver" that allows the overlap when "the benefit of increased [non-commercial] service outweighs the potential for interference in small areas" (FCC). The stations are owned by Catholic broadcaster Real Presence Radio, though it remains to be seen whether both will carry the same programming once their coverage areas are aligned. (1/21/2016)

Minnesota Public Radio has announced plans to launch "The Current" in Duluth on Feb. 1. The Adult Alternative network will be heard on translator W215CG/90.9 (Duluth), which MPR bought from Family Stations last year and upgraded, and the HD2 signal of WSCN/100.5 (Cloquet-Duluth). The stations are already on the air carrying a mix of local music; a launch party is being planned for March. "The Current" will be the sixth public radio format in the Twin Ports, competing primarily with the University of Minnesota Duluth's KUMD/103.3. MPR and Wisconsin Public Radio each offer two other services in the area. (1/20/2016)

Filing to potentially participate in the upcoming TV spectrum auction closed last week, and while the filings are confidential, some organizations have revealed their plans. Stations that sell spectrum will be able to remain on the air either by moving to an inferior channel or through channel sharing.

Groups that own dozens of stations on the list of stations to be potentially sold have said they may participate in some form. Those groups include:
•Gray TV, 18 stations in the Upper Midwest (Bloomberg)
•Sinclair, 12 stations in the region (TV Technology, Variety)
•Nexstar, 7 stations in the region (TV Technology)
•Media General, 5 stations in the region (TV Technology, Variety)
•Ion, 5 stations in the region (TVNewsCheck)
•Tribune, 3 stations in the region (TVNewsCheck)
•CBS, owns WCCO-TV Minneapolis & 2 satellites (Bloomberg, Variety, WSJ)
•FOX, owns KMSP & WFTC Minneapolis (Bloomberg, TVNewsCheck, WSJ)
•Marquette PBS station WNMU (Mining Journal)

Groups that will not participate include:
Wisconsin Public Television, which operates six PBS stations
NET Nebraska, which operates nine PBS stations
•Pioneer Public Television, which operates two PBS stations in southwestern Minnesota (though its statement only mentions one of them) (1/18/2016)

Native Communications, operator of the NCI-FM network, is seeking permission to replace its Brandon FM station with a smaller facility, and says in its application that the current facility might be sold to a commercial broadcaster. NCI has operated CIWM-FM/91.5 since 2002, but tells the CRTC it has been unable to find enough advertising support in the Westman region to cover the $70,000 annual expense of running the 100kW (class C1) station. It's proposing moving CIWM-FM to 107.5 with 2.7kW (class A). Six First Nations communities would lose CIWM-FM's signal as a result of the downgrade, but NCI says it's committed to helping them establish low-power FM signals to carry its programming. The application also says that NCI is interested in selling the existing 91.5 facility to Westman Communications Group, which would use it as a rebroadcaster of Country-formatted CKLQ/880. That plan would require a separate application with the CRTC. (1/18/2016)

The FCC has approved a plan to move an FM station into Rugby to be paired with existing station KZZJ/1450. KKWZ/95.3 (Crary), which is currently off the air, will moves 65 miles west and change its community of license to Rugby with 6kW/45m (class A). To replace KKWZ as the Crary-licensed radio station, Two Rivers Broadcasting's KQZZ/96.7 (Devils Lake) will change its community of license to Crary. Separately, the FCC also approved the sale of KKWZ from Edward "Butch" De La Hunt to KZZJ owner Rugby Broadcasters. (1/18/2016)

New station WQUD/105.5 (Erie, IL) has signed on east of the Quad Cities. The 6kW/100m (class A) station provides a rimshot signal to Clinton and fringe coverage of the Quad Cities. WQUD signed on last August, and Around P-Town reports that it began local programming on Jan. 11, carrying a mix of Oldies and Classic Country as "Vintage Radio." It's owned by Texas-based JMRW, LLC. (1/17/2016)

WQKQ/92.1 (Dallas City, IL-Burlington) has flipped from Active Rock to Classic Rock, retaining its "KQ92" slogan and the syndicated "Bob & Tom" morning show. It appears the change happened around the beginning of the year. WQKQ is one of six stations owned by Pritchard Broadcasting in the Burlington area. (1/17/2016)

Mid-West Management's WAYY/790 (Eau Claire) is seeking FCC permission for a nighttime downgrade. The station currently uses 5kW day and night from a three-tower array near U.S. Highway 53 in the far northeastern part of the city, with a non-directional signal during the day and a directional pattern at night. It's proposing to drop two towers at the site and operate nondirectionally day and night, retaining 5kW day but dropping to 123 Watts at night. The 123 Watts would still be enough to provide interference-free reception to Eau Claire. Mid-West also holds a construction permit for FM translator W286CK/105.1, which will transmit from the remaining tower. (1/16/2016)

Translator W238CB/95.5 (Monroe) has signed on relaying the "Big Country" format of WEKZ/1260 (Monroe). "Big Oldies" WEKZ-FM/93.7 (Monroe) has changed its callsign to WBGR-FM, possibly to avoid confusion. The stations are among eight owned by Big Radio along the Wisconsin/Illinois border. (1/16/2016)

The FCC recently granted these construction permits for new FM translators:
•Davenport, IA: K250BM/97.9, Starboard Media Foundation, 250W
•Iowa City, IA: K233DD/94.5, University of Northern Iowa, 80W
•Iowa City, IA: K237GD/95.7, University of Northern Iowa, 80W
•Parkersburg, IA: K296GV/107.1, Family Stations, 250W
•Waterloo, IA: K293CH/106.5, Starboard Media Foundation, 250W (1/16/2016)

Black Hills NBC affiliate KNBN/21 (Rapid City) has been off DISH Network since the beginning of the year amid a retransmission consent dispute. The sprawling Rapid City TV market covers the western third of South Dakota, as well as parts of Wyoming and Montana. The Rapid City Journal reported that the same type of dispute also temporarily removed KNBN, owned by Rapid Broadcasting, from DISH four years ago. (1/15/2016)

Hmong Radio Broadcast LLC, the owner of WIXK/1590 (New Richmond, WI-St. Paul), is buying an FM translator that could potentially be moved into the Twin Cities during a filing window later this year. The deal calls for Hmong Radio Broadcast to pay Edgewater Broadcasting $35,000 for W242BB/96.3 (Medford, WI). The deal is contingent on FCC approval of a move to a tower to be designated by the buyer. (Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Hmong Radio Broadcast as the owner of KFXN/690 Minneapolis, which is co-located with WIXK in St. Paul.) (1/14/2016, corrected 1/15)

KZIA, Inc. is picking up another FM translator in Cedar Rapids with the purchase of K236AA/95.1 from Family Stations for $60,000. K236AA had carried Family Radio for about 16 years, receiving the signal via a translator in the Amana Colonies, but the feed ended when the translator was forced to move to a new frequency a few years ago. K236AA had more recently been heard relaying Educational Media Foundation's KXGM-FM/89.1 (Hiawatha). KZIA, Inc. also owns K298BM/107.5 (Cedar Rapids), which carries the Sports format of KGYM/1600 via an HD subchannel of KZIA/102.9 (Cedar Rapids), as well as two translators in Iowa City. (1/14/2016)

How's this for a first: A radio station moving out of the Twin Cities area? It could happen with Main Street Broadcasting's purchase of K256CO/99.1 (St. Paul) from Refuge Media for $100,000. K256CO was just granted a few months ago and is not yet on the air; its current construction permit calls for 38 Watts from a water tower in Vadnais Heights. Main Street Broadcasting, part of the Linder group, owns KOWZ/1170 (Waseca-Owatonna) and could potentially seek to move the translator south during a filing window for AM-on-FM translators later this year. (1/13/2016)

Midwest Communications is buying several translators from Edgewater Broadcasting that could potentially be moved to become AM-on-FM translators for Midwest stations during a filing window later this year. The $82,500 deal includes K226BF/93.1 (Moose Lake, MN), W227BB/93.3 (Fremont, MI), and W238AX/95.5 (Savanna, IL). The deal values the Fremont and Savanna licenses at $30,000 apiece and the Moose Lake license at $22,500. Midwest also has eight existing translators in Wisconsin, some of which are not yet on the air. (1/13/2016)

The latest media merger in Canada means all of Manitoba's commercial TV stations will soon be co-owned with a Winnipeg radio group. Corus Entertainment is buying Shaw Media from Shaw Communications for $2.65 million. Shaw Media's holdings include the Global Television Network, more than a dozen cable/satellite channels, and 13 local stations, including CKND-TV/9 (Winnipeg). It will be co-owned with the Corus group consisting of CJOB/680, CJKR-FM/97.5, and CJGV-FM/99.1. Bell Media, Rogers Broadcasting, and CBC/Radio-Canada also own TV-radio combinations in the city. (1/13/2016)

A Spanish-language Christian music format called "La Nueva Vida" has launched on the HD4 signals of KLCI/106.1 (Elk River-Minneapolis) and KDDG/105.5 (Albany-St. Cloud). The HD4 signals had briefly carried the secular "Mera Buena" format last fall following its exit from sister station KBGY/107.5 (Owatonna-south metro); that format's Facebook page continues to be updated with generic posts though the format itself appears to have ended. (1/12/2016)

Courier Communications' WNOV/860 (Milwaukee) could end up with two different FM translators on 103.3 in different parts of the metro area. The first one already has FCC approval: Gateway Technical College's W277BM/103.3 (Lake Geneva) has received a construction permit to move to Waukesha to relay WNOV. It will use 200 Watts with a highly directional antenna, serving the southwestern Milwaukee metro area. The move was approved using a Mattoon Waiver, which requires the translator to relay the specified AM station for at least four years.

The other WNOV translator would move up from Illinois. In an application first reported on by RadioInsight, Frank McCoy's W277CV/103.3 (Waukegan) has applied to change its community of license to South Milwaukee. It would use 120 Watts from a tower in Oak Creek, using a directional antenna serving part of the area between Milwaukee and Racine. A Mattoon Waiver is also being sought in this case. Besides the two translators needing to protect each other, they both need to protect a future low-power FM station on the same frequency in Whitefish Bay, which will be heard in much of Milwaukee and its northern suburbs.

Regular readers may recall that WNOV was briefly relayed by a translator on 102.5 several years ago, when the station was being rented to a different operator, but interference complaints forced that translator off the air. (1/11/2016)

In another Milwaukee FM translator development, Bustos Media is seeking to move future translator W230CI/93.9 downtown to the Wisconsin Center. The FCC has already approved Bustos' purchase of the translator from Cornerstone Community Radio and its move from 104.7 to 93.9, but the current construction permit calls for a site in Wauwatosa, which would use 250 Watts. Bustos has now applied to move the translator downtown with 200 Watts. Bustos also owns WDDW/104.7 (Sturtevant-Milwaukee). (1/11/2016)

The FCC recently granted these construction permits for new FM translators:
•Janesville, WI: W242CM/96.3, Board of Regents of the UW System, 170W
•Neenah, WI: W251CB/98.1, Midwest Communications, 250W (1/11/2016)

•Marshalltown, IA: KDNH-LP/101.5, owned by K. of C. Building Inc. and carrying Spanish Catholic programming from EWTN's Radio Catolica Mundial.
•Fargo, ND: KPPP-LP/88.1, owned by the People's Press Project and focused on serving minority communities.
•Black Earth, WI: WISY-LP/92.5, owned by the Mazomanie Music Conservatory and carrying a Community/Variety format for the rural area west of Madison.
•Milwaukee, WI: WXRW-LP/104.1, owned by the Riverwest Artists Assocation and carrying a Community/Variety format as "Riverwest Radio." The lineup includes local talk shows, Democracy Now! at 11 p.m. and an hour with former Wisconsin Public Radio host Ben Merens on Saturday afternoon. (1/11/2016)

The Educational Media Foundation, operator of "K-Love" and other Christian networks, is buying two FM stations in Keokuk that have rimshot signals to Quincy. EMF is buying KOKX-FM/95.3 and KRNQ/96.3 from Withers Broadcasting and David Lister for a $500,000 purchase price, less $30,000 for needed repairs at the transmitter site. EMF said it plans to convert both stations to non-commercial status, with KOKX-FM switching from Classic Hits to the Contemporary Christian "K-Love" network and KRNQ dropping Classic Rock for Spanish Christian from "Radio Nueva Vida." (This report has been updated to correct the stated network plans for KRNQ.) They're currently part of the four-station Keokuk Radio Group; as previously reported, Riverfront Broadcasting is buying KOKX/1310 (Keokuk) and WCEZ/93.9 (Carthage-Keokuk) for $100,000. (1/11/2016)

Wennes Communications is buying an FM translator in Missouri, presumably to move north to relay its KFXE/1160 (Waukon) when an FCC window for long-distance moves opens up later this year. Wennes is buying K260BJ/99.9 (Kahoka, MO) from First Ventures Capital Partners for $28,000. KFXE currently carries FOX Sports Radio. (1/11/2016)

Fourth time's the charm? The 9 p.m. newscast on FOX 18 (KLJB Davenport) is now being produced by CBS affiliate WHBF, which is the fourth organization to produce the newscast. Davenport-based Independent News Network first began producing the newscast in 1999, but KLJB switched to ABC affiliate WQAD in 2010 and then to NBC affiliate KWQC two years later. The switch to a WHBF-produced newscast follows WHBF's sale to Nexstar and a shared services agreement between WHBF and KLJB. Meanwhile, WQAD has launched a 9 p.m. newscast on its MyNetworkTV subchannel. (1/7/2016)

Just over a year after Antenna TV debuted in Omaha on channel 3.2 of Scripps' KMTV, the network is moving to channel 6.3 of Gray's WOWT. The station is running promos saying Antenna TV will debut on Jan. 18. KMTV will apparently replace Antenna with Escape, since it was announced last year that the station would carry the network. KMTV is a primary CBS affiliate and also carries Laff on 3.3; WOWT is a primary NBC affiliate and also carries weather on 6.2. (1/7/2016)

DTV America is planning to add Laff on a number of its low-power TV stations in the region, according to listings on the network's website. They show Laff being carried on channel 43.3 of KMBD-LD (Minneapolis), channel 36.4 of W08CK-D (Madison), channel 14.2 of K14PR-D (Cedar Falls), and channel 28.2 of K28NF-D (Fort Dodge). It's not clear if any of the stations are currently on the air. There's no indication what might be carried on the other channels of the stations. (1/7/2016)

The tentative deal for Nexstar to buy Media General means another divestiture is ahead for Green Bay. Media General currently owns ABC affiliate WBAY-TV/2.1, while Nexstar owns CBS affiliate WFRV/5.1. FCC rules prohibit one company from owning both stations, and Nexstar said Thursday that it will divest stations necessary to gain regulatory approval of the Media General purchase. There was no indication which station would be divested, or who would buy it. Green Bay was home to a divestiture just over a year ago, when Media General sold FOX affiliate WLUK/11.1 and CW affiliate WCWF/14.1 to Sinclair as part of its purchase of LIN TV. The Nexstar-Media General deal is still contingent with a previous deal for a Media General-Meredith merger to be terminated or voted down by Media General shareholders. (1/7/2016)

Christian broadcaster Dove Broadcasting is buying KDMI/19.1 (Des Moines) from Pappas Liquidating Trust for $1 million. KDMI currently carries ThisTV, while Dove Broadcasting and its sister companies own stations that carry the TCT network. The deal includes a provision saying that if the new owners earn more than $2 million selling any of KDMI's spectrum during the upcoming auction, Pappas Liquidating Trust will get a portion of the proceeds. Pappas also owns CW affiliate KCWI/23.1 (Ames-Des Moines) and is awaiting a bankruptcy court's approval to sell KCWI to Nexstar Broadcasting, which owns ABC affiliate WOI-DT/5.1 (Ames-Des Moines). A court hearing on the KCWI sale, which already has FCC approval, is set for Jan. 20. (1/7/2016)

Birach Broadcasting is selling Des Moines rimshot signal KXLQ/1490 (Indianola) to 62 and Even II LLC for $300,000. The buyer is owned by Jeff Rasmussen (68%) and Wayne Nyberg (32%) of Des Moines, while Kurt Rasmussen serves as president but has no ownership interest. The three work for Rasmussen Group, which owns a group of construction companies. KXLQ currently runs a Sports format as "The Jock." (1/6/2016)

Salem Media plans to launch "Wellness Radio" on KDIZ/1570 (Golden Valley-Minneapolis) next Monday (1/11). The lineup will include the syndicated Dr. Asa show from 12 to 3 p.m. and sponsored programming from local health businesses. 1570's former Business Talk format and KYCR callsign moved to Salem's newly-purchased 1440 signal last month. They're among four AM stations Salem owns in the Twin Cities. (1/6/2016)

Northern Lights Broadcasting has brought Hip-Hop back to the Twin Cities' commercial airwaves, six years after the company dropped the format on a different station. "Go 95.3" (KZGO St. Paul-Minneapolis) launched at 3 p.m. Tuesday (1/5), sharing branding with sister Adult Alternative/Twins baseball outlet "Go 96.3" (KTWN-FM Edina-Minneapolis). The Twin Cities has not had a commercial Hip-Hop outlet since Northern Lights ended "B96" in 2010. The new launch follows Northern Lights' $7.95 million purchase of 95.3, formerly KNOF, from Praise Broadcasting, a deal which includes "Praise" programming continuing on KTWN-FM's HD2 signal. KNOF, a 900-Watt (class A) station that moved to the IDS Center a few years ago, had carried a Christian format for more than a half-century. "Go 95.3" has no direct commercial competition, though non-commercial KMOJ/89.9 (Minneapolis) has played Hip-Hop for decades. iHeartMedia and Cumulus Media both launched Classic Hip-Hop outlets last summer. (1/4/2016, updated 1/5)

Bethesda Christian Broadcasting's KTPT/97.9 (Rapid City) has switched from "The Point" Christian Hits to Worship music as "The Breeze." A note on the station's old website says the "Point" format "was never able to achieve a level of funding necessary to cover its expenses." The station referred listeners to sister Contemporary Christian outlet KSLT/107.1 (Spearfish-Rapid City). Bethesda also owns Teaching/Preaching outlet KLMP/88.3 (Rapid City), a format which was originally on 97.9 and moved to 88.3 in 2004. (1/4/2016)

Leighton Enterprises has rebranded Adult Contemporary outlet KCML/99.9 (St. Joseph-St. Cloud) as "More FM," dropping the "Lite" slogan the station had used since its 1998 sign-on. The change happened Monday (1/4). KCML says the change was made "to reflect our dedication in giving you more of what you told us you care about. More music, with less talk, and more of the songs you really enjoy." (1/4/2016)

Classical Iowa Public Radio station KSUI/91.7 (Iowa City) is broadcasting at reduced power. The network says the 1300-foot transmission line at KSUI's main site near West Branch broke down in mid-December and the station had to switch to its backup site just outside Iowa City. The backup uses only 8.6kW, compared with the usual 100kW, providing only a rimshot signal to Cedar Rapids and essentially taking the Quad Cities out of its coverage area. The backup is also not powerful enough to feed translator K269EK/101.7 (Dubuque). IPR is awaiting a tower crew to make repairs. (1/3/2016)

Red Rock Radio's WHSM-FM/101.1 (Hayward) has dropped Adult Contemporary for "Muskie Country," making it the only Country outlet in the immediate Hayward area. Hans Evins continues to host mornings on the new format, which is named for a fish common in Hayward-area lakes. It appears the switch happened on Dec. 27. The change takes WHSM-FM out of direct competition with the city's only other commercial FM station, Adult Contemporary-formatted WRLS/92.3. Country fans in Hayward previously had to tune into fringe signals from Rice Lake or other cities.

Meanwhile, sister station WHSM/910 will begin carrying the Minnesota Twins this season. A belated note that WHSM began carrying programming from iHeartMedia's Minneapolis-based Fan Network last summer, with NBC Sports Radio filling evenings and overnights. (1/2/2016)

Midwest Communications has rearranged the formats on two of its Green Bay translators. The FM relay of Sports talker WNFL/1440 has moved from W221DA/92.1 to W270AJ/101.9; W270AJ had been one of two translators relaying Midwest's "Duke FM" format in Green Bay. Meanwhile, W221DA is now relaying mainstream Country outlet "Y100" (WNCY/100.3 Neenah-Menasha). The translators broadcast from the same site and have essentially the same coverage areas, though W221DA battles interference from the fringe signal of WLTU/92.1 (Manitowoc). (1/2/2016)

The iconic Easy Listening format heard on KNXR/97.5 (Rochester) until last year has been reincarnated at 97Five.com. The web stream formally launched on Jan. 1 and is also available through the TuneIn app. The playlist includes vintage Easy Listening standards that had been heard on KNXR for decades, including repeats of the John Doremus Show in the evening. (It's worth noting that the KNXR Easy Listening format didn't have a web stream when it was still on FM.) Meanwhile, Blooming Prairie Farm Radio is awaiting FCC approval to buy the terrestrial KNXR from Hometown Broadcasting of Rochester, which bought it from Tom Jones' United Audio Corporation last year and changed the format to Hot Adult Contemporary. (1/1/2016)

Upper Midwest Broadcasting: News/Main | IA | MN | NE | ND | SD | WI | MI