March 2016

Salem Media's K233CO/94.5 (Omaha) and KOTK/1420 (Omaha) are due to flip to a Conservative Talk format as "The Answer" on Monday (4/4). The lineup will include Hugh Hewitt, Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, Clint Bellows, Larry Elder, and Steve Deace. The new format will mean an end to the Spanish Christian format that's aired on KOTK since 2008. K233CO has relayed Salem Christian Teaching/Talk outlet KCRO/660 (Omaha) since signing on in late 2014; new translator K293CJ/106.5 (Omaha) is expected to relay KCRO in the future. (KCRO was able to obtain a waiver for an FM translator move due to its class D status; KOTK is class B and wouldn't have been eligible to move a translator until later this year. K233CO isn't legally bound to either station since it was not obtained through a waiver.) (3/31/2016)

In a move foreshadowed here last week, WISS/1100 (Berlin) is running an on-air announcement saying that its News/Talk lineup will soon move to a different station, a change that comes as WISS' FM translator prepares to move to Oshkosh. The announcement that WISS' format will move to WRPN/1600 (Ripon) in "a few weeks" was first reported by Radio/DX Information from Wisconsin. WRPN currently carries a Classic Rock format and is being sold to WISS owner Hometown Broadcasting, LLC in a $325,000 deal. Hometown recently received a construction permit to move WISS translator W247AZ/97.3 (Berlin) to Oshkosh as W254CS/98.7, which could allow the station to change its target market. The current WISS format will have a stronger, 24-hour AM signal when it moves to 1600. (3/28/2016)

Red Rock Radio's WCMP/1350 (Pine City) has reverted to Soft Oldies, dropping NBC Sports Radio after a year and a half. WCMP was one of four Red Rock stations to Sports under the "Red Zone Sports Radio" name in the summer of 2014. Then last summer, sister station WXCX/105.7 (Siren, WI) switched to a Sports format that includes NBC Sports Radio nights and weekends. The change at WCMP, which happened March 1, restores a format that had been heard on the station for decades. (3/28/2016)

The FCC has now taken action on all but two Upper Midwest FM translator applications filed so far under the AM revitalization window, which allows translators to be moved up to 250 miles to relay an AM station. This week's grants included a translator for WDGY/740 (Hudson, WI) on 103.7 and one for KBIZ/1240 (Ottumwa, IA) on 102.7. Meanwhile, one of the applications that hasn't been acted on yet was just filed this week: NRG Media is seeking to move a translator to Kearney, NE to relay KGFW/1340 on 99.3. The only remaining application in the region with no action is one from K221FO/92.1 (Sioux Falls, SD) to move to 93.3; the translator would continue to relay KZOY/1520 from its current site. It's unclear why no action has been taken. More applications are likely later this year when the window opens to allow FM translator moves for class A and B AM stations. (3/25/2016)

Hometown Broadcasting, LLC is buying WRPN/1600 (Ripon) from Radio One Communications, LLC for $325,000. Hometown also owns WISS/1100 (Berlin) and WAUH/102.3 (Wautoma). WRPN's 5kW signal overlaps with much of WISS' coverage area, using different day and night antenna patterns. WISS also has an FM translator with a construction permit to move to Oshkosh. The deal to sell WRPN calls for Radio One to "fix all transmitter and phasor issues" before the closing date, or the sale price will be reduced by $125,000. WRPN has been on the air since 1957, when it was known as WCWC, and currently carries a Classic Rock format and the syndicated Lex & Terry morning show. Radio One is owned by Michael Enfelt of Ripon, who has owned the station since 2005. Hometown is owned by Thomas G. Boyson of Oshkosh. (3/23/2016)

Scott Thompson's Big Radio is fighting a proposal for David R. Magnum to buy a future Beloit FM translator. In a petition to deny, Big Radio says it has an Oct. 28, 2015 contract to buy W239CD/95.7 from Sister Grace, Inc. In January, Sister Grace filed an application seeking FCC approval to transfer the license to Magnum in a $3,000 deal. In February, Big Radio obtained a temporary restraining order preventing W239CD from being sold to anyone else. A court hearing on an injuction was to have taken place March 17, but was rescheduled to April 14. Big Radio owns eight stations along the Wisconsin/Illinois border, including two AM stations in the Beloit area that could potentially be relayed on W239CD. The translator is not yet on the air. (3/17/2016)

Canadian regulators have approved Native Communications' plan to downgrade its NCI-FM station in Brandon. CIWM-FM will move from its 100kW/326m facilty on 91.5 to 107.5, where it will use 2.7kW/14m. The network plans to work with six First Nations communities that will lose CIWM's signal to establish low-power FM stations. NCI-FM carries a predominately Country format. The network said the downgrade would save money and allow the possible sale of the 91.5 facility to Westman Communications Group, which could use it as a rebroadcaster of Country-formatted CKLQ/880. The new use of 91.5 would require approval in a separate proceeding. (3/16/2016)

The FCC recently granted Paskvan Media a new commercial FM station to serve the Lake of the Woods area. The new station will be licensed to Baudette and will broadcast on 94.5 with 100kW/120m (class C1) from a tower between Baudette and Warroad, with a main coverage area also including Roseau. There are currently just three commercial radio stations in the isolated region. Paskvan Media won the new station in a 2012 FCC auction with a $55,000 bid. The company is owned by Troy Paskvan, who also owns an AM-FM combo in the Bemidji market that's operated alongside Roger Paskvan's three stations. (3/15/2016)

The FCC has granted WREY/630 (St. Paul) an upgrade after the station modified its application in response to an informal objection from WTMJ/620 (Milwaukee). WREY plans to construct a three-tower array near the oil refinery in Rosemount and originally proposed using 5kW daytime and 2.8kW nighttime with the same northward directional antenna pattern day and night. After WTMJ objected that the nighttime facility would cause interference in the Green Bay area, WREY dropped the nighttime power to 1.6kW. The FCC has now granted the new facility. WREY currently uses 1kW day and 2.5kW night from the WCTS/1030 (Maplewood) site in Woodbury, the latest in a series of facilities since 630's longtime site on Radio Drive in Woodbury was sold for development in 1994. The station is owned by Greg Borgen's 630 Radio Inc. and runs a Regional Mexican/Tropical format as "Radio Rey."

In separate action, the FCC has approved a move for an FM translator that's slated to relay WREY. K288GR/105.5 will transmit from the WDGY/740 tower site east of Hudson, with a directional antenna pattern and coverage limited to the immediate Hudson area. WDGY, also owned by Borgen and carrying an Oldies format, is awaiting approval for its own translator, which would broadcast on 103.7 with a non-directional pattern. (3/14/2016)

In what appears to be the first activation of a new FM translator in the Upper Midwest under the FCC's AM revitalization plan, the Nebraska Rural Radio Association has signed on K278CI/103.5 (York). The 250-Watt translator signed on Monday, March 7, just 20 days after the FCC approved the move of the translator from Hastings. K278CI relays KAWL/1370 with a Classic Hits/Oldies format that's been rebranded as "Kool 103.5." KAWL/K278CI also carries FOX News Radio, local sports, the Husker Sports Network, and Kansas City Royals baseball. (3/13/2016)

The FCC has granted a new FM translator in the Twin Cities, denying an objection from a suburban station that fears interference. Santamaria Broadcasting's K239CJ/95.7 (St. Paul) will transmit with 160 Watts from the IDS Center in Minneapolis, relaying the Spanish-language format of KMNV/1400 (St. Paul). It will use a directional antenna pattern to limit the signal towards WLKX/95.9 (Forest Lake) and WDMO/95.7 (Baldwin, WI). WLKX had filed an informal objection saying there would be prohibited overlap between the new translator and WLKX. Santamaria responded with a filing saying that WLKX's analysis was incorrect, and the FCC agreed. However, like all translators, K239CJ will be subject to interference complaints from listeners of full-power stations such as WLKX. Santamaria Broadcasting, the owner of KMNV, is buying the translator from the Educational Media Foundation for $40,000 and moving it from Des Moines under the filing window for 250-mile moves for AM-on-FM translators. With the band becoming crowded, 95.7 may be the last FM translator with significant coverage granted in the Twin Cities area. (3/12/2016)

The following new FM translator facilities, under the window for moves of up to 250 miles for FM translators to relay AM stations, have been approved:
•St. Paul/Minneapolis, MN: KMNV/1400, 95.7, 160W
•Grafton, ND: KXPO/1340, 93.9, 250W
•Black River Falls, WI: WWIS/1260, 105.3, 250W

A running list of proposed new FM translator facilities in the Upper Midwest under this filing window is posted here. (3/12/2016)

Ear Falls, a community of about 1,000 people that's approximately 100 miles northeast of Kenora by air, is poised to get its first FM signal. The CRTC has granted an application by Acadia Broadcasting to convert CKDR-4 from AM 1450 to FM 97.5, using 50 Watts. CKDR-4 is one of several rebroadcasters of Acadia's CKDR-FM/92.7 (Dryden), which carries an Adult Contemporary format. Currently, Ear Falls is outside of the range of any regular FM reception. The only other station in town is CBC Radio One's CBOI/690. Both AM stations use 40 Watts. (3/12/2016)

Mid-West Management is trading out one of the stations in its Eau Claire radio group, donating a rimshot FM signal to a group associated with UW-Eau Claire so it can add a core-market signal.

Mid-West is donating WDRK/99.9 (Cornell-Eau Claire) to Blugold Radio, LLC, a group held by members of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation. Meanwhile, Mid-West will buy WISM-FM/98.1 (Altoona-Eau Claire) from the Aloha Station Trust for $970,000. The trust has held WISM-FM's license since 2008 after a change in FCC rules from contour-based to market-based definitions required Clear Channel, now known as iHeartMedia, to divest a station in the market.

WISM-FM is currently operated as part of iHeartMedia's group and carries an Adult Contemporary format as "Mix 98.1." WDRK recently changed to Classic Hits "Greatest Hits 99.9," having switched from Variety Hits as "Bob FM." Mid-West says the Classic Hits format will move to 98.1, giving it a stronger signal and removing "Mix" as a competitor to Mid-West's "I94" (WIAL/94.1 Eau Claire).

Blugold Radio appears to be unique in Wisconsin, since other radio licenses associated with UW campuses are held by the Board of Regents. Those licenses include WUEC/89.7 (Eau Claire), which is located in the UWEC campus and carries a student-produced show called "Blugold Radio" on Sundays from 5 to 8 p.m.

UWEC says 99.9 will be operated non-commercially with a format including student programming, Blugold athletics, and programming from WPR's NPR News and Classical Music network during the day. The News and Music network is already heard on WUEC, but WDRK's more northerly transmitter location would expand the network's coverage to include Barron County. (3/8/2016)

KNXR/97.5 (Rochester) has debuted a Classic Hits format as "Minnesota 97.5" after a weekend of stunting with Rolf Harris' "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport." The new format launched at Noon on Monday, March 7, with the Eagles' "Hotel California." As a Classic Hits station, KNXR competes with Townsquare Media's KVGO/104.3 (Spring Valley), which targets Rochester but delivers a rimshot signal to the city. The change follows KNXR's sale to Lynn Ketelsen and John Linder's Blooming Prairie Farm Radio, which does not own any other stations in Rochester but does own several in the Owatonna area. "Minnesota 97.5" replaces a Hot Adult Contemporary format called "The Pulse," which lasted just 13 months. Gregory Jensen's Hometown Broadcasting of Rochester had launched "The Pulse" after buying KNXR, the strongest commercial FM signal in Rochester, from longtime owner Tom Jones/United Audio Corp. Jones retained the station's vast Easy Listening music library and relaunched the format online at a few months ago. (3/4/2016, updated 3/7)

Jan Charles Gray's Mount Rushmore Broadcasting has filed new requests with the FCC for special temporary authority to keep its four radio stations on the southern end of the Black Hills off the air. KZMX/580 (Hot Springs), KZMX-FM/96.7 (Hot Springs), KFCR/1490 (Custer), and KAWK/105.1 (Custer) have been off the air for much of the past decade, with brief resumptions to keep the licenses active. The company writes in its STA requests, "MRBI has historically experienced difficulty attracting qualified candidates to employ, and, once employed, maintaining those staff members for any length of time. This has become an issue once again. The station's location coupled with harsh winter weather have caused MRBI to lose its staff. Thus, it has no choice but to take the station off the air." The stations have each made ten or more STA requests in the past decade, citing staffing and technical problems. (3/7/2016)

WWEN/88.1 (Wentworth-Duluth) has switched from American Family Radio to Real Presence Radio following the station's $200,000 sale to Real Presence Radio. WWEN is the first Wisconsin-licensed station for the North Dakota-based Catholic network, which carries some programming from EWTN Radio. (3/7/2016)

The following new FM translator facilities, under the window for moves of up to 250 miles for FM translators to relay AM stations, have been approved:
•Waukon, IA: KMRV/1160, 96.7, 250W (added Tues.)
•Albany, MN: KASM/1150, 107.7, 250W
•Winona, MN: KWNO/1230, 98.7, 250W
•North Platte, NE: KJLT/970, 95.7, 250W (added Tues.)
•Beloit, WI: WGEZ/1490, 101.9, 250W (added Tues.)
•Madison, WI: WHIT/1550, 97.7, 225W (added Sat.)
•Middleton, WI: WHFA/1240 (Poynette), 97.3, 40W (added Sat.)

A running list of proposed new FM translator facilities in the Upper Midwest under this filing window is posted here. (2/29, 3/1, and 3/5/2016)

Wisconsin Public Radio has announced plans to end production of Michael Feldman's "Whad'Ya Know?" at the end of June after a 31-year-run. The comedy quiz show airs live from 10 to Noon on Saturday mornings on WPR's Ideas Network and is syndicated nationally by Public Radio International, with distribution on more than 300 stations at one time. A condensed hour-long edition of the show also airs on WPR's News and Music network. No reason was given for the cancellation, and the show's replacement has not yet been announced. (3/3/2016)

A notice running on Forum Communications ABC affiliate KBMY/17 (Bismarck) says the station's programming will no longer be carried on channel 2.2 of Nexstar CBS affiliate KXMA (Dickinson) beginning March 4. The change follows the sale of KXMA and the other western North Dakota CBS affiliates from Reiten Television to Nexstar, which was required by FCC rules to give up a joint sales agreement with KBMY. The ABC affiliate also has a satellite in Minot, KMCY/14, but relied on KXMA and channel 11.2 of KXMD (Williston) to reach the western cities of the vast market; KXMD is presumably dropping the KBMY/KMCY feed as well. KBMY/KMCY had operated analog translators in Dickinson and Williston prior to the subchannel simulcasts. An announcement running on the station says cable and satellite providers will still offer KBMY/KMCY in Dickinson and Williston, and they are exploring opportunities for restoring over-the-air coverage of the cities. However, Nielsen Media statistics posted by TVB show just a small fraction of viewers in the market rely on over-the-air signals. (3/1/2016)

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