March 2009

KHQG/102.5 (Superior-Duluth) has shifted from Rock to "Classic Rock 102.5." The Midwest Communications station had rebranded as "The Hog" one year ago. In the Classic Rock arena, 102.5 more solidly targets the market's heritage Classic Rock station, KQDS-FM/94.9 (Duluth). The previous format had fallen somewhere between KQ and its Active Rock sister, 94X (K231BI/94.1 Duluth and parent station KZIO/104.3 Two Harbors). (3/28/2009)

Salem Communications' KYCR/1570 (Golden Valley-Minneapolis) will flip to Business News/Talk on Monday, March 30, dropping a six-year-old News/Talk format of mostly syndicated political programming. The last effort at a Business format in the market was on KSNB/950 (St. Louis Park, now KTNF) when it was owned by CBS. (3/26/2009)

DISH Network has launched HD locals for the Duluth market, including WDIO-ABC, KDLH-CBS, KQDS-FOX, and KBJR-NBC. It represents the first time major network HD programming has been available in much of the market since DirecTV does not offer the service, some outlying cable systems don't carry HD feeds of the major networks, and DTV signals can't be received in parts of the market. The DISH Duluth locals package is available in Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, and St. Louis Counties, Minnesota; Ashland, Bayfield, Douglas, Sawyer, and Iron Counties, Wisconsin; and Gogebic County, Michigan. (3/26/2009)

W237AA/95.3 (Appleton) is now relaying "The Score" WSCO/1570 (Appleton). The 99-Watt translator has a strong signal to all of Appleton, as well as Menasha and Kaukana. W237AA formerly carried WRVM/102.7 (Suring), which is now heard on W268BG/101.5 (Appleton). Woodward bought W268BG, originally permitted as W214BT/90.7, from Horizon Christian Fellowship and then traded it to WRVM for W237AA. Woodward also bought W278AU/103.5 (Green Bay) and W292DR/106.3 (De Pere, formerly W291BG/106.1 Green Bay) from Horizon. (3/25/2009)

West Bend Broadcasting, licenseee of WBKV/1470 (West Bend), has filed an informal objection to WJTI/1460's application to move from Racine to West Allis, which is closer to West Bend. The proposed new facility would deliver a city-grade signal most of the Milwaukee metro area. WJTI would be licensed to and transmit from West Allis, where it would share the existing WGLB/1560 site with 1kW day and 240W night (U4). (3/25/2009)

Most TV stations still broadcasting in analog will continue to do so until June 12, according to the latest lists released by the FCC. The majority of Upper Midwest stations which plan to end analog before that date are non-commercial, including Wisconsin Public Television's remaining five analog stations, which will go off the air April 5. The only "big four" network affiliates ending analog before June 12 are KXMB (CBS, Bismarck) on May 28 and KHSD (ABC, Lead SD) on April 17. Several small stations (KEFB Ames IA, KCPM Grand Forks, and WBIJ Crandon WI) seem to have been omitted from FCC lists. (3/19/2009)

KQLX-FM/106.1 (Lisbon-Fargo) has flipped from Classic Country to "106.1 FM Talk." The lineup includes Don Imus, Dennis Miller, Glenn Beck, Jason Lewis, and Tony Bruno. The station, owned by Terry and Rita Loomis of Lisbon, upgraded its signal to cover Fargo last year. (3/18/2009)

Thunder Bay's 105.3 "The Giant" (CKTG) has become the first Canadian radio station to carry the syndicated "Bob and Tom" show. Rather than air during morning drive, the show airs at 4 p.m. "The Giant" was also the first Canadian station to carry "Nights with Alice Cooper." (3/18/2009)

Digital TV viewers in the Wausau/Rhinelander area recently got two new channels: WJFW-DT 12.2 (Rhinelander) and translator 27.2 in Wausau are now carrying Universal Sports, while WAOW-DT 9.3 (Wausau) and WYOW-DT3 34.3 (Eagle River) are now carrying ThisTV. 9.3 and 34.3 had carried WFXS "FOX 55" while it sorted out problems with its digital antenna and transmitter. (3/18/2009)

Expect to see even more announcements about the transition to digital TV under new rules announced late Friday by the FCC. Most notably, stations which have a predicted signal loss of 2 percent or more of their existing analog viewers must run announcements notifying viewers of the potential signal loss. (The FCC has released detailed maps showing stations with significant coverage losses, listed below, though some will not meet the 2 percent threshold requiring announcements.) Stations are also required to inform viewers about the possible need to get a new antenna or rescan for new channels. 50% of stations in the Upper Midwest have already ended analog broadcasting. No station currently broadcasting in analog will be able to end analog service before April 16, except for some public television stations which will be allowed to end analog March 27.

Stations which are listed as having "significant changes in coverage" and have not yet ended analog broadcasting:
Iowa: KWQC/6 (Davenport), KTVO/3 (Kirksville, MO-Ottumwa), KIMT/3 (Mason City), KTIV/4 (Sioux City)
Michigan's U.P.: WDHS/8 (Iron Mountain), WJMN/3 (Escanaba), WLUC/6 (Marquette), WMQF/19 (Marquette)
Minnesota: KDLH/3 (Duluth), KAAL/6 (Austin), KTCA/2 (St. Paul)
North Dakota: KGFE/2 (Grand Forks), WDAY/6 (Fargo), KXMA/2 (Dickinson), KXMD/11 (Williston)
South Dakota: KOTA/3 (Rapid City), KPLO/6 (Reliance-Pierre)
Wisconsin: none (3/14/2009)

Radio/DX Information from Wisconsin reports that WTTN/1580 has made the move from Watertown to Columbus, and is still carrying Oldies as "The Goose." WTTN upgraded from 1kW to 5kW daytime, retaining much of its former coverage area, and went from non-directional to directional, expanding the signal to the northwest and strengthening the signal in Madison. The nighttime signal is just 4 Watts. WTTN's move to Columbus will allow WTLX "100.5 ESPN" to complete its move from Columbus to Monona, transmitting from the north side of Lake Mendota in Madison. (The FCC generally does not allow stations to change their community of license if it would leave the community without a radio station; WTTN was able to leave Watertown because WJJO/94.1 remains licensed there.) WTTN and WTLX are owned by Good Karma Broadcasting. (3/12/2009)

The FCC has approved Zoe Communications' plan to move WDMO/95.9 (Durand) to 95.7 in Baldwin. 95.7 will transmit from a tower along I-94 near Baldwin with 4kW/124m (class A), providing a strong signal to River Falls and New Richmond, along with fringe coverage of the eastern Twin Cities metro area. Sister station WQOQ/1430 will remain licensed to Durand. (3/10/2009)

Northern Lights Broadcasting's "B96" (KTTB/96.3 Glencoe) is now proposing locating its transmitter at the KFXN/690 site in New Hope, after the St. Louis Park City Council denied its request to build a new tower at the WWTC/KYCR (AM) site. KTTB would use 19kW/77m HAAT (class C3) from the easternmost KFXN tower. The new facility would provide a city-grade signal to Minneapolis and the west metro and a strong signal to most of the metro area. KFXN is owned by Clear Channel, which is somewhat ironic since a Clear Channel employee was an outspoken opponent of KTTB's St. Louis Park proposal. The New Hope proposal would not require city council or FAA approval because it would use an existing tower. If it gets FCC approval, KTTB would also change its community of license to Edina, while KGLB/1310 would move from St. Peter to Glencoe to backfill. KGLB, formerly KRBI, has been silent since last year. (3/9/2009)

Minnesota Public Radio has signed on translators K286AU/105.1 (Glencoe) and K295BD/106.9 (St. James) carrying the News network. The translators are among eleven MPR purchased from Horizon Christian Fellowship last year, many of which do not appear to be on the air. Although 105.1 is licensed to Glencoe, it actually transmits from near Brownton and doesn't have a strong signal to Glencoe (translators are not required to cover their community of license). (3/6/2009)

KDMU/106.9 (Bloomfield-Ottumwa) dropped Classic Hits for `60s and `70s Oldies at 10 a.m. Tuesday (3/3). The station now goes by "KOOL 106.9." KDMU's new general manager is Douglas J. Neatrour, who has more than 35 years of radio experience in the Midwest and on the East Coast. Neatrour said the station will make a renewed effort to continue local involvement, including the broadcasting of high school basketball and football games. (3/5/2009)

Warren Gerds of the Green Bay Press Gazette reports that Midwest Communications plans to launch a talk format on new station WTRW/97.5. Midwest president and CEO Duke Wright told the paper a launch date has not been set. Midwest also runs a News/Talk format on WTAQ/1360 (Green Bay). As reported here last July, Midwest bought WTRW from Radioactive, LLC, for $1.725 million. The station is currently licensed on 97.1 in Two Rivers, and was recently granted a construction permit to change its community of license to the Town of Glenmore and move to 97.5, transmitting from the WBAY/2 tower and providing a city-grade signal to 95% of the Green Bay Urbanized Area. WTRW was on the air using the 97.1 facility for 28 hours from Feb. 23-25 before going silent. It first signed on last year and has never been on the air for more than a few days at a time. To make way for the move, the FCC has granted a CP for WHDG/97.5 (Rhinelander) to move to 97.3. (3/3/2009)

After a few weeks of struggles, WFXS-DT/31 (Wittenberg-Wausau) is finally on the air. The station remaps to channels 55.1 and 55.2 on digital receivers. WFXS, a FOX affiliate, signed on too late to get a digital companion channel and ended analog broadcasting on Feb. 17, but winter weather and damage to the digital antenna prevented the station from signing on digitally until Monday, March 2. (3/3/2009)

KWSN/1230 (Sioux Falls) has announced plans to drop ESPN Radio after a 17-year affiliation with the network and switch to FOX Sports Radio. The new lineup will also include syndicated programs from Dan Patrick, Jim Rome, and Tony Bruno. Program director Craig Mattick said in a press release that the change is being made because ESPN is requiring affiliates to carry more national programming, and that network programs have not met the station's expectations. A date for the switch has not been announced. (3/3/2009)

Iowa Public Radio's website indicates it may now not be until March 13 that full FM coverage of its News/Talk network is restored. KUNI/90.9 (Cedar Falls) suffered a transmission line failure in early February and is operating at low power. The signal has not been strong enough to provide the off-air feed to translators in the Quad Cities and Des Moines. (3/3/2009)

Two FM frequencies in Nebraska, one in South Dakota, and three in Wisconsin will tentatively be included in FCC Auction No. 79, set to begin Sept. 1. The stations an minimum opening bids are:

  • Arthur, NE: 107.9 class C (100kW/600m), $10,000. Potential coverage of Ogallala.
  • Hartington, NE: 94.3 C2 (50kW/150m), $50,000. Potential coverage of Yankton and Vermillion, SD.
  • Sisseton, SD: 99.5 C2 (50kW/150m), $20,000.
  • Boscobel, WI: 96.7 C3 (25kW/100m), $40,000. Potential coverage of Lancaster and Prairie du Chien.
  • Owen, WI: 96.3 C3 (25kW/100m), $50,000.
  • Tigerton, WI: 106.9 A (6kW/100m), $30,000.
    Here are details of the auction. (3/3/2009)

    PAUL HARVEY, 1918-2009:
    Broadcasting legend Paul Harvey died Saturday (2/28) at the age of 90. Harvey's "News and Comment" broadcasts, five minutes in the morning and fifteen minutes at midday, and five-minute "Rest of the Story" feature on the ABC Radio Networks have been staples of information-based radio stations for decades. "News and Comment" began with the trademark "Hello Americans, this is Paul Harvey. Stand by for news!" and usually ended with Harvey slightly laughing at the kicker as he said "Paul Harvey, Good Day!" In the middle were news items of the day with polite commentary and feature stories about everyday people separated by "page two" and "page three." Harvey enjoyed his job too much to retire, agreeing to a ten-year contract at the age of 82 and continuing even after the death of his wife, Lynne Cooper "Angel" Harvey, last year. Their son, Paul Harvey, Jr., has been a frequent fill-in host. (3/1/2009)

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