May 2009

Iowa Public Radio has signed on KDWI/89.1 (Ottumwa) after more than a year of delays. (The Ottumwa Courier bashed IPR for the delays in a recent editorial.) KDWI carries IPR's News/Talk service during the day and "Studio One" music programming at night. KUNZ/91.1 (Ottumwa) signed on last year carrying IPR's Classical network. Previously, the only public radio stations available in Ottumwa were fringe AM signals. The University of Northern Iowa, one of the three universities that is part of IPR, holds a construction permit for KUNE/88.3 (Ottumwa), which could come in handy if the network decides to expand "Studio One" to a full-time network. (5/29/2009)

Nielsen Media estimates that 3.13% of households in the Minneapolis market and 1.44% in the Milwaukee market were completely unready for the digital transition as of May 24. All full-power broadcast stations will end analog broadcasting by midnight June 12. (5/29/2009)

The FCC has granted a community of license change for KUQL/98.3 from Wessington Springs to Ethan, though the station's actual facility will not change. Ethan is a small town of 315 people south of Mitchell. KUQL, owned by Saga Broadcasting, targets Mitchell with an Oldies format as "Kool 98." (5/29/2009)

The Lincoln Journal Star's Jeff Korbelik reports that KRKR/95.1 went off the air last week. The station had carrying an Adult Contemporary format as "The Breeze." Owner Richard Chapin told Korbelik he shut off the station for financial reasons, but expects to turn it back on in a few weeks. KRKR has been operated by Three Eagles Broadcasting, which transferred the license to Chapin Enterprises as a qualified intermediary to seek a buyer after Three Eagles absorbed the former Clear Channel group. KRKR has a construction permit to move into the Omaha market on 94.9, licensed to Valley, but the station recently applied to remain on 95.1 in Lincoln but downgrade so that a station in Iowa (KCSI/95.3 Red Oak) can upgrade. (5/28/2009)

Trinity Broadcasting Network has converted its Minneapolis low-power TV station, K25IA, to digital, giving Twin Cities DTV viewers another five program options: TBN, Church Channel, JCTV, TBN Enlace, and TBN Kids. K25IA-D operates at 15kW, the maximum power for low-power digital TV stations, theoretically covering the entire Twin Cities metro area.

The Twin Cities have another seven low-power TV stations carrying religious, home shopping, and spanish-language programming which may continue to broadcast in analog after full-power analog signals leave the air June 12. Many of them have either applied for or received digital companion channels. Meanwhile, EICB-TV East is planning to move two digital LPTV stations into Minneapolis:

  • KHVM-LD/28, which is currently licensed to Mankato with a transmitter in Montgomery, already has a construction permit to move to Minneapolis with 15kW.
  • KTCJ-LD/30, which is currently licensed to St. Cloud with a transmitter in Elk River, has an application to move to channel 50 in Minneapolis with 15kW. (5/27/2009)

    VSS Catholic Communications says KBZR/102.7 (Lincoln) could be transmitting from the KPTM tower near Gretna by Sunday, May 31. The move, which includes a community of license change to Papillion, will give 102.7 a strong signal to both Omaha and Lincoln, using 46.1kW/410m (class C1). Chief Engineer Mark Voris has posted pictures of the new transmitter. VSS has been simulcasting its Catholic programming on both KVSS/88.9 (Omaha) and 102.7 since taking over the new facility earlier this year. (5/26/2009)

    After a theoretical trip up and down the dial, it appears KTCI-DT (St. Paul) will finally land on channel 23. The Twin Cities Public Television station has been on analog channel 17 since 1965 and digital channel 16 since 1999. It had initially planned to move to channel 26 after the digital transition, using KMSP-DT's antenna after KMSP-DT moves to channel 9, but later determined the antenna could not be used at a suitable power level. It then proposed moving to channel 38, but Duluth-Superior Educational Television opposed that plan. Duluth-Superior operates WDSE/8 (Duluth), which operates on digital channel 38 but will move to digital channel 8 after the transition, and wanted to reserve channel 38 for a future non-commercial station licensed to Superior. TPT and Duluth-Superior later reached a settlement agreement whereby KTCI would request channel 23, formerly used by the analog signal of WUCW (Minneapolis). The FCC has now approved the new channel 23 allotment, but KTCI-DT will still have to apply for and receive a construction permit before making the actual change. KTCI-DT remaps to digital channels 2.3 and 2.4, matching the channels of sister station KTCA-DT. As part of the settlement agreement, Duluth-Superior agreed to drop its proposal to allot channel 38 to Superior, but the proposal could theoretically be revived since the channel will be vacant. (5/25/2009)

    WDKM/106.1 (Adams) has adjusted its format to a mix of Adult Contemporary and Classic Hits following its sale to DKS Communications. (5/21/2009)

    Wisconsin Public Radio has cancelled "Calling All Pets," a weekly hour-long animal advice show featuring zoologist Patricia McConnell and WPR host Larry Meiller, whose live weekday program continues. The show had been nationally distributed, but WPR says it ended the show because it couldn't find a national distribution partner. (Several other WPR shows are distributed by Public Radio International.) Production of the show ended last fall after 14 years, and WPR is making reruns available to affiliates through June 30. The last reruns on WPR aired May 9. The show's 7 a.m. Saturday timeslot is filled with a repeat of the first hour of Larry Meiller's Friday show, labelled as "Garden Talk," and the 3 p.m. Saturday timeslot is the "Saturday Special," starting with five episodes of "Radiolab." (5/19/2009)

    Jagerita Radio is buying the construction permit for a new non-commercial station on 88.3 in Waconia from Key to Life Center for a purchase price equalling legal and engineering fees for getting the CP. Key to Life Center, based in Plymouth, also retains the right for a one-hour program each Sunday. The 11kW/86m station (class C3) will transmit from near Young America, with a main coverage area stretching from Glencoe to Watertown and fringe coverage of the western Twin Cities metro. Jagerita Radio's educational objective states that it will primarily serve Waconia and other small towns within the station's coverage area with local news, local music, school news, weather, emergency information, and religious programming. Jagerita Radio is owned by Blake Rice of Chaska, Dave Delaney of Orono, and Shauna Gerber of Bloomington. (5/18/2009)

    KAAL-DT (Austin, MN) is proposing a new digital translator near Mason City, IA, as part of its application to move its main DTV faciity from its longtime site west of Austin to a tower near Grand Meadow used by KXLT-DT (Rochester, MN) and KSMQ-DT (Austin). KAAL-DT would move from channel 33 to 36, using the equipment formerly used by KTTC-DT (Rochester) at the Grand Meadow site. (KTTC-DT moved to channel 10 from the stations' longtime site near Ostrander in February.) KAAL-DT already has special temporary authority to use channel 36 at Grand Meadow and is awaiting approval of a construction permit that will lead to a permanent license. Since the move is 30 miles to the east, KAAL is trying to alleviate concerns about loss of ABC network service to the west. It argues that ABC service will still be available from several existing translators of other stations in southern Minnesota, and proposes adding a new translator in Garner, IA, which may also reach Mason City. KAAL also says it has no measurable viewership in out-of-market counties which will lose service. (5/18/2009)

    KZAT/95.5 (Belle Plaine-Tama) has returned to the air. The station had gone silent April 6 due to financial reasons and is being transferred to Farmers & Merchants Bank pending FCC approval. F&M foreclosed on the station and was the high bidder during a sheriff's sale. (5/18/2009)

    Augustana College's KAUR/89.1 (Sioux Falls) says on its website its FM signal will go silent this summer, but the station continue online streaming. There's no word whether the 680-Watt station will go up for sale or if the station will surrender its license. (5/18/2009)

    The FCC has released a list of tv of stations eligible to participate in the "analog nightlight," continuing analog service until as late as July 12 with information on how to convert to digital TV and emergency messages. However, many stations on the list have already ended analog broadcasting. The only Upper Midwest stations listed as having indicated an interest in the nighlight are WCCO-TV/4 (Minneapolis), KSTP-TV/5 (St. Paul), and KETV/7 (Omaha). (5/14/2009)

    KCHA-FM/95.9 (Charles City) is now running different day and night formats. The station carries "The Best Mix of the `60s through Today" from 4 a.m. to 7 p.m., and "Today's Best Music" from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. The change took effect Monday, May 10. (5/12/2009)

    The Minnesota Vikings are moving to "The Fan 1490" (KQDS) and KQDS-FM/94.9 in the Duluth market for the 2009-2010 season. KQDS-FM is rebroadcast on KFGI/101.5 (Crosby-Brainerd), KBAJ/105.5 (Deer River), KAOD/106.7 (Babbitt), and WXXZ/95.3 (Grand Marais). The Vikings had been heard on WEBC/560 and "B105" (KKCB/105.1) in the Duluth market in recent seasons. (5/12/2009)

    Several more stations have upgraded their local newscasts to HD or 16:9 SD in recent months:
    Des Moines: KCCI/8 began 16:9 SD newscasts on April 20, followed by WHO-TV/13 on April 22.
    Duluth: The Northland's NewsCenter (KDLH/CBS3 and KBJR/NBC6) began presenting their newscasts in 16:9 SD format on May 4.
    Madison: WISC/3 began HD newscasts last October 26.
    Milwaukee: WTMJ-TV/4 began HD newcasts on April 7.
    Minneapolis: KARE 11 has offered HD news since April 2006. WCCO-TV/4 began using 16:9 SD last month and plans to convert to HD later this year. KMSP/FOX9 plans to debut HD news today (5/11) at 5 p.m. (5/11/2009)

    KRUE/92.1 (Waseca) has switched from Citadel's Classic Hits Radio to its True Oldies Channel. KRUE had begun carrying Classic Hits Radio when it was still known as Oldies Radio. (5/11/2009)

    NBC translator K69BT (Red Lake) has switched from KVLY (Fargo) to KRII (Chisholm) because KVLY could no longer be received at the translator site after it ended analog broadcasting on Feb. 17. (5/11/2009)

    The CRTC has approved Evanov Communications' plans for a new station on 106.1 in Winnipeg, using 40kW. The new station will mix Adult Contemporary (35%) and New Easy Listening (65%). When the CRTC first gave preliminary approval to the new station last August, it had been seemed likely it would operate on 106.3, but the Department of Industry determined a station on 106.3 would cause interference to aeronautical NAV/COM services. The CRTC disagreed with Native Communications, Incorporated's argument that the new 106.1 would cause harmful interference to its CICY/105.5 (Selkirk) in South Winnipeg. Evanov had originally applied for 104.7, but the CRTC awarded that frequency to NCI for a new service targeting aboriginal youth. (5/8/2009)

    DISH Network has added HD locals for the Sioux Falls market, including KSFY-ABC, KELO-CBS, KTTW-FOX, and KDLT-NBC. DirecTV had already offered HD locals in the market. (5/8/2009)

    WPVL-FM/107.1 (Platteville) has dropped Oldies for Contemporary Hits as "The Edge." The flip happened Wednesday morning (5/6). Local hosts include Brent Johnson in the morning, Johnny Page from 10-Noon, and Joel McAlree from 4-7. Syndicated shows include Ryan Seacrest from Noon-4, Nudge at Night from 7-Midnight, and Dawson McAllister from Midnight-5. American Top 40 airs Saturdays from 7-11 a.m. and Sundays from Noon-4. NASCAR programming which had aired as part of the old format is now split between sister Queen B Radio stations KIYX/106.1 (Sageville-Dubuque) and the "ESPN Double Team" (WGLR/1280 Lancaster and WPVL/1590 Platteville). (5/7/2009)

    La Crosse radio veteran Brucie Bumchuckles has retired from radio again. He had left "Classic Rock 100.1" (WKBH West Salem) in January 2007, and then resurfaced at 105.5 "The Zoo" (WFBZ Trempeleau) in September 2007. Bob Goff and Brian Williams have taken over mornings on WFBZ after Brucie left for a job outside of radio.

    In other La Crosse-area developments, Todd Springer is moving from evenings at "Classic Hits 94.7" (KCLH Caledonia) to evenings at "KQ98" (KQYB/98.3 Spring Grove). WIZM/1410 morning host and producer Bob Schmidt takes over evenings on KCLH. (5/6/2009)

    95.1 "The Bull" (KCZE New Hampton) was off the air Monday morning due to an equipment problem, but returned later in the day. (5/6/2009)

    A newly filed application reveals more information about the new owners of FOX 19 (WMQF Marquette). MMMRC, LLC won WMQF in an auction with a $100,000 bid after Equity Media Holdings filed for bankruptcy. MMMRC is owned by Paul B. Belschner of Oneida, WI, and Scott R. Smet and Chad L. Smet of De Pere, WI. Brothers Scott and Chad Smet run Smet Construction Services in De Pere, and Belschner is that company's controller.

    $100,000 may seem like a bargain-basement price for a big-four network affiliate, but there are several factors in play besides the bankruptcy:

  • WMQF has no master control of its own. Equity runs a centralized master control in Arkansas to originate programming for its stations across the country.
  • WMQF has not constructed digital TV facilities and will likely have to go silent on June 12 as a result, though cable coverage could continue. WMQF did not get a digital companion channel since its initial construction permit was issued after the FCC created a list of companion channels. The FCC granted an extension until December 12 to complete digital facilities.
  • WMQF has to compete with Green Bay FOX affiliate WLUK/11 on cable systems across the U.P., and cable penetration is high. WMQF cannot force systems in Delta, Dickinson, and Marquette Counties to drop WLUK because it is on the FCC's "significantly viewed" list for those counties.

    One factor that could help WMQF is satellite coverage. Competitor WLUC reports that DISH Network and DirecTV are both looking to establish a point-of-presence in the market that would allow carriage of local stations. However, the packages would not likely include WLUK. A court order prevents DISH Network from carrying out-of-market stations. DirecTV has the option of carrying out-of-market significantly-viewed stations, but has not exercised it in most cases when an in-market affiliate of the network is available. (5/5/2009)

    MICHIGAN: reports that WUPZ/94.9 (Chocolay Township-Marquette) is on the air with a Contemporary Hits format as "The Bay." The station is owned by Radioactive, LLC, and operated by Darby Advertising. Darby is also operating three other Radioactive stations in the Upper Peninsula, including Classic Hits "100.3 The Point" (WUPT Gwinn-Marquette). (5/5/2009)

    All Access and Radio and Records report Sioux City and Grand Forks among the seven markets where Clear Channel has decided to go without ratings data. That means Sioux City ratings likely won't be publicly released anymore, since Clear Channel had been the only subscriber, but there are other subscribers in Grand Forks. Both markets are among those Clear Channel had been trying to sell a few years ago. (5/5/2009)

    Wisconsin Public Radio has dropped local morning newscasts and weather on KUWS/91.3 (Superior) and WHSA/89.9 (Brule), though state news and weather forecasts continue in the morning. Local news still heard at Noon, 4, 5, and 9 p.m. The morning newscasts had aired since WPR established the Superior bureau in 1990. (5/4/2009)

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