It turns out Milwaukee has not one, but two format flips: On Friday, Clear Channel flipped 97.3 "The Brew" (WQBW) to Contemporary Hits as "Radio Now." The format primary competes with Entercom's 103.7 "Kiss FM" (WXSS Wauwatosa), which has run the format for more than a decade. Clear Channel also owns Hip-Hop/R&B-formatted "V100" (WKKV/100.7 Racine).
WQBW's flip came one day after Saga's WJZX/106.9 (Brookfield) dropped its Smooth Jazz format and started stunting as "Tiger 106-9." Saga had reserved the callsign WNQW, leading some to wonder whether Saga intended to launch a format called "Now." WJZX management had hinted to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Thursday that a new format would debut Friday, but then said Friday the plan was always to continue the stunting throught the weekend. Meanwhile, Clear Channel management told the paper the WQBW flip had been in the works for months but was sped up by WJZX's move.
The end of the `80s Rock "Brew" format at WQBW primarily benefits Saga's WKLH/96.5, which runs a Classic Rock format. (5/29/2010)
Saga Broadcasting's WJZX/106.9 (Brookfield-Milwaukee) has dropped Smooth Jazz and is stunting as "Tiger 106-9," taking a jab at Tiger Woods with liners about cheating. The stunting can be heard online at tiger1069.com. FCC records indicate Saga reserved the callsign WNQW last week. Station management hinted to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that a new format might debut Friday afternoon, and said the old format can still be heard on 106.9's HD2 channel. The Smooth Jazz format had launched in June 2007, replacing the last incarnation of the Classical WFMR format. (5/28/2010)
DFL gubernatorial candidate Matt Entenza announced Robyne Robinson as his running mate on Thursday, one day after Robinson wrapped up a twenty-year career at FOX 9 (KMSP-TV Minneapolis). Robinson brings name recognition to the campaign -- KMSP reaches a majority of the state's population and had statewide cable coverage prior to 2002. She's not the first ex-KMSP anchor to seek higher office: Rod Grams served six years in the U.S. Senate. Entenza is competing in the August DFL primary with party-endorsed candidate Rep. Margaret Anderson Kelliher and former U.S. Senator Mark Dayton. (5/27/2010)
DISH Network has set June 3 as the date for its launch of local-into-local service in the remaining markets it does not serve, including Mankato, North Platte, and Ottumwa. The markets lack affiliates of some of the big-four networks, and a court injunction prevented DISH from importing out-of-market affiliates of the missing networks. A provision in the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act, signed by President Obama Thursday, allows DISH to resume offering distant network service (out-of-market stations) to qualifying customers if it begins carrying local channels in all 210 markets. The new local service will be the first for North Platte and Ottumwa; DirecTV already serves Mankato, importing some Minneapolis stations. (5/27/2010)
New Catholic station WRMW/91.3 (Peshtigo) signed on at 10 a.m. Wednesday (May 26). It's owned by Friends of Radio Maria, a Catholic network. Though the station is licensed to Peshtigo, it transmits from the WDOR-FM/93.9 (Sturgeon Bay) tower on the other side of Green Bay. WRMW uses 5.4kW/170m. (5/27/2010)
Some recent airstaff changes in the La Crosse market: At WCOW/97.1 (Sparta), former afternoon jock Arnie Andrews has joined Baylee Young on the Morning Moo Crew. Ben Butler has taken over afternoons at WCOW, while former morning co-host Rik Franke now does a Wednesday afternoon show on "ESPN 105.5" (WFBZ Trempeleau). At "Z93" (WIZM-FM/93.3), former afternoon host Brittany Styles is co-hosting mornings with new jock Al Shannon, while Joey Hoops is now covering afternoons. (5/27/2010)
Some changes at Wennes Communications stations in northeastern Iowa: Erik Kelly left KNEI-FM/103.5 (Waukon) to host afternoons at KVIK/104.7 (Decorah). Rhonda Gritton left the news department to host middays on KNEI, while Pete Wennes, the station owner's son, returned to the airwaives as news director and mid-morning host at KVIK. (5/27/2010)
Joe Gordon is selling the construction permits for three new FM stations, including one in North English, to Justin McLuckie for $70,000. The North English station will be on 97.1, with the CP calling for 6kW/100m from a new tower between South English and Webster and a main coverage area including Sigourney and Williamsburg. The CP expires on Aug. 15, though the new owner will be eligible for an eighteen-month extension. The deal also includes CP's in Missouri and Oklahoma. Gordon and McLuckie are both Kansas residents. (5/26/2010)
Minn-Iowa Christian Broadcasting has signed on new station KJTS/88.3 (New Ulm), relaying KJLY/104.5 (Blue Earth). The new station uses 2.4kW/29m from a site southeast of New Ulm. KJLY also has satellite stations in Windom, Spirit Lake, IA, Eagle Grove, IA, and St. Ansgar, IA, and numerous translators, including K285FX/104.9 (New Ulm). (5/26/2010)
As The Des Moines Community Radio Foundation prepares to return KFMG-LP/99.1 to the air, it's fighting a new battle that could force the station off the air for good. As previously reported, KTIA-FM/99.3 (Boone) has applied to change its community of license to Johnston and move its transmitter to Saylorville, which would give the Christian Talk station strong coverage of Des Moines. The move would likely force KFMG-LP to vacate 99.1, but the station says there is no other frequency available for LPFM in Des Moines. The Des Moines Community Radio Foundation and nine individuals have filed informal objections to KTIA-FM's application.
KTIA-FM's move would also require KPUL/99.5 (Winterset) to move to 101.7, which would, in turn, force Iowa Public Radio translator K269EJ/101.7 (Des Moines) to change frequency. K269EJ recently applied to move to 97.7, remaining 250 Watts. (5/25/2010)
ThisTV has announced that it'll be seen on KSTC/45.2 (Minneapolis) beginning July 17. Other than the ION subchannels, ThisTV will be the first commercial general-interest subchannel carried in the Twin Cities. (5/25/2010)
After just four days on DISH Network, a weather channel produced by Paul Douglas' Excelsior-based WeatherNation is off the air. DISH had launched The Weather Cast on Thursday as contract negotiations with The Weather Channel came to a head; however, The Weather Channel never left DISH Network and a new agreement was announced Monday. The Weather Cast went silent at 10:37 a.m. CT Monday and will be replaced with a secondary service from The Weather Channel. Douglas describes the launch of The Weather Cast in detail on his Star Tribune blog. (5/24/2010)
Clear Channel has cleared another FCC hurdle to get a sixth FM signal in the Twin Cities. The FCC has approved plans to move translator K279AZ/103.7 (Cottage Grove) to the IDS Center in Minneapolis with 170 Watts. Clear Channel's purchase of the translator from the Educational Media Foundation, which currently uses it to carry K-Love, was approved about a month ago. The application for the move to IDS stated plans to rebroadcast Clear Channel's KTLK-FM/100.3 on 103.7; FCC rules would allow the translator to relay an HD subchannel or AM station. (5/22/2010)
William Gade's 5777152 Manitoba Ltd., which has two stations and an authorization for a third, has applied for a new station on 103.3 in Virden. The station, which the applicant wants to be called CJVM-FM, would use 3.44kW/38m (class A) and would carry a mix of Country, Pop, and Rock with 3-4 minute newscasts. Morning and afternoon drive would be done live with voice tracking at other times, with at least 75 hours per week of local programming. Virden is a town of 3,110 located west of Brandon, known as the "oil capital of Manitoba." 5777152 Manitoba Ltd. recently signed on CJBP-FM/97.1 (Neepawa) and also owns CJSB-FM/104.5 (Swan River). It also has authorization to build a new station in Winnipeg Beach. (5/22/2010)
Excelsior-based WeatherNation, owned by meteorologist Paul Douglas, is supplying content for a new national 24-hour weather channel on DISH Network. DISH launched the channel, The Weather Cast, on Thursday as a replacement for The Weather Channel, saying the network has strayed too far from actual weather and is demanding unreasonable contract terms. Douglas, a well-known former KARE 11 and WCCO-TV meteorologist, founded WeatherNation in 2008. The company also supplies content for KARE 11's WX Now digital subchannel and video forecasts for numerous websites. The Weather Cast can be seen on DISH channel 213. (5/20/2010)
KJJK/1020 (Fergus Falls) has ditched its longtime Oldies format and is now running Salem's Today's Christian Music format as "Family 1020." The old format, known as "Groovy 1020," came from Dial Global's Kool Gold network. The change apparently happened on Monday, May 10. (5/20/2010)
WDSM/710 (Superior-Duluth) has added the syndicated Allen Hunt show, which focuses on faith issues, weeknights from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Sundays from 6-9 p.m. (5/20/2010)
KBRL/1300 (McCook) has dropped the remaining Oldies from its format and is now "The Big Talker." The Armada Media station's lineup had already included Rush Limbaugh and now also includes FOX Sports Radio and Coast-to-Coast AM with George Noory. (5/20/2010)
An FM translator's long journey from Harlan to Red Oak is nearly complete. Hawkeye Communications, owner of KOAK/1080 and KCSI/95.3 (Red Oak), bought the translator last year from Horizon Christian Fellowship and has been moving it towards Red Oak, where it rebroadcast KOAK. The translator is currently licensed as K275BM/102.9 (Elliot) and recently filed an application to move to Red Oak on 102.3 with 250 Watts. Red Oak will be the fifth facility for the translator in the past year. FCC rules will allow FM translators to move only if its new coverage area overlaps with the old one, and daisy-chain moves such as this are becoming more common as commercial demand for translators rises in the wake of new rules allowing translators to rebroadcast AM and HD2 stations. (5/19/2010)
DirecTV has announced plans to add Sioux City local-into-local service in the fourth quarter of 2010 in both SD and HD format. DISH Network already serves the market in both formats. Sioux City was the only 2010 market launch in the Upper Midwest announced by DirecTV. (5/18/2010)
WPIQ/92.7 (Manistique) has added rimshot coverage of Escanaba with an upgrade. The News/Talk station had used 6kW/48m (class A) from a tower just east of Manistique; it now uses 24.5kW/217m (class C2) from a tower near the Schoolcraft/Delta County line west of Manistique. The tower is owned by WPIQ owner Todd Stuart Noordyk and is also home to Lakes Radio's WCMM/102.5 (Gulliver). (5/18/2010)
Lifetalk Radio is donating KOPJ/89.3 (Sebeka) to We Have This Hope Christian Radio. The 100kW station's coverage area includes Brainerd, Park Rapids, and Wadena. The new owners have construction permits for new stations in Blackduck, Hibbing, and Warroad. (5/17/2010)
Cedar Cove Broadcasting is buying the construction permit for KCGQ/88.3 (Kimball) from Ocean Side Broadcasting for $5,000. Cedar Cove Broadcasting owns eight other non-commercial stations and CP's in Colorado and Wyoming and is headed by Vic Michael, who has an interest in eleven commercial stations. The CP for the 510-Watt station expires April 16, 2011, though FCC rules may allow the new owners to extend the CP to 18 months past the purchase date. (5/17/2010)
What was to be a new FM station in the Omaha market may never be built over concerns about interference to airplane navigation systems. Connoisseur Media won the right to build a new station on 107.7 licensed to Pacific Junction, Iowa, in a 2004 auction with a $6.765 million bid, but then asked the FCC for its money back last year when it became clear FAA concerns would not allow the new station to go on the air. KGGG/107.7 was to have used 50kW/129m (class C2) from a tower near Glenwood, IA. Now, the FCC has proposed deleting the allotment entirely because it appears there is no way for a station to operate on 107.7 providing city-grade service to Pacific Junction, even if it's cut back to class A (6kW), and there is no other frequency available to be alloted to the community. The FCC will go forward with its plan unless someone can show that a frequency can be alloted to Pacific Junction without interfering with airplane navigation. (5/14/2010)
Cup O'Dirt, LLC has taken ownership of KSQB/1520 (Sioux Falls) and was expected to begin carrying its `80s Hits format on KSQB Friday. The format targetting Brandon has been streaming online since last year. Cup O'Dirt bought the 500-Watt daytimer from Backyard Broadcasting for $250,000 and plans to add an FM translator. But there's a kink: Backyard has filed an informal objection to an application to move translator K220JO/91.9 to 92.1. The exact nature of Backyard's objection is not available online, though it may have something to do with the fact that 92.1 is only two channels away from Backyard's KELO-FM/92.5. Cup O'Dirt is buying K220JO from the Educational Media Foundation and cannot rebroadcast KSQB on the translator's current frequency since it's in the portion of the band reserved for non-commercial use. (5/14/2010)
Twin Cities Public Television's KTCI-TV/2.3 (St. Paul), which recently moved its digital broadcast channel from 16 to 23, has now applied to upgrade from 325kW to 700kW on channel 23. KTCI carries the "TPT Life" channel. The upgrade would put KTCI on par with sister TPT station KTCA and other Twin Cities stations. That's a change from the analog era, when KTCI broadcast with the relatively low power of 331kW on channel 17 while most other analog UHF stations used 5,000kW. (5/14/2010)
The CBC has asked permission from the CRTC to begin carrying CBWT/6 (Winnipeg) on transmitters in Brochet, Dauphin, Poplar River, and Shamattawa, MB, and to switch the Armstrong, ON, transmitter to CBLT (Toronto). The Dauphin transmitter had previously relayed CKX-TV/5 (Brandon), which went off the air last October. No application has been made to restore over-the-air CBC coverage in Brandon. The other transmitters currently carry the Montreal CBC station. (5/14/2010)
Pappas Telecastings' KPTM/42 (Omaha) has added Estrella TV on channel 42.3. It's the second spanish-language channel on Omaha TV; KPTM's sister station, KXVO/15, carries Azteca America on 15.2. KPTM continues to carry FOX on 42.1 and a mixture of My Network TV and This TV on 42.2, while KXVO carries CW on 15.1. (5/13/2010)
WCCO/830 has announced another schedule change: Chad Hartman will join the station Monday, May 17, taking over the 9 a.m. to Noon slot currently hosted by John Hines and Susie Jones. Hines will move to 8-10 p.m., replacing Sports Tonight, and Jones will become a news reporter. Gov. Tim Pawlenty's "Good Morning Minnesota" will continue to air Fridays from 9-10 a.m. Hartman was a longtime host at sports talker KFAN/1130, but his WCCO show will cover news of the day. He'll join the station just a week after KSTP/1500 alum Tommy Mischke took over the 10 p.m. to Midnight slot. (5/13/2010)
DISH Network promises the North Platte and Ottumwa-Kirksville markets would finally get local-into-local satellite service under a bill passed by Congress Wednesday. The bill, which awaits the president's signature, would allow DISH Network to resume carriage of out-of-market network affiliates to eligible customers as long as it begins offering local-into-local service in all 210 markets. DISH has not rolled out local-into-local service for some small markets because they lack affiliates of one or more of the big-four networks, and a court injunction currently prevents DISH from offering out-of-market feeds of the missing networks. North Platte and Ottumwa-Kirksville are not currently served by either DISH or DirecTV. DISH will also have to add local service in the Mankato market, which is already served by DirecTV. (5/12/2010)
ABC affiliate WBAY-TV/2 (Green Bay) and Wisconsin Public Television's WPNE-TV/38 (Green Bay) have returned to full power. The stations had cut back to 52kW and 10kW, respectively, after their shared transmission line was damaged during a storm on January 27. WBAY-TV broadcasts with 1,000kW on channel 23 and WPNE-TV broadcasts with 200kW on channel 42. (5/12/2010)
Two long-time news anchors will soon disappear from Minneapolis TV stations. Robyne Robinson announced her departure from KMSP/9 on Tuesday, saying she plans to spend more time on her jewelry design business after leaving the station on May 26. She's been with KMSP since 1990.
Meanwhile, Don Shelby is retiring from WCCO-TV/4 after 32 years with the station. His last newscast will be at 10 p.m. on Nov. 22, though he'll stay with the station until the end of the year. At a Wednesday press conference, Shelby said there is a possibility he may continue to report for the station for a few more years, pending contract negotiations. He said he's even been courted to run for governor but turned down the offers. 6 p.m. WCCO co-anchor Frank Vascellaro will add 10 p.m. duties after Shelby's departure. (5/12/2010)
Radio Ink reports Jim Coursolle plan to change the formats at five of ten Heartland Communications stations after purchasing a controlling interest in the company.
WATW/1400 (Ashland, WI), WERL/950 (Eagle River, WI), WNBI/980 (Park Falls, WI), and WIKB/1230 (Iron River, MI) will all switch to conservative News/Talk as "Freedom Talk" by July with lineups including Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Michael Savage. WNBI and WIKB will change callsigns to WPFP and WFER, respectively. Currently, WATW, WERL, and WIKB carry Dial Global's Adult Standards format, while WNBI carries ESPN Radio.
Meanwhile, WIKB-FM/99.1 (Iron River, MI) will switch from Adult Contemporary to Country as "The Bull." The other stations, which are not changing formats, are Country WBSZ/93.3 (Ashland), Classic Rock WJJH/96.7 (Ashland), Oldies WNXR/107.3 (Iron River, WI-Ashland), and Oldies WRJO/94.5 (Eagle River).
Heartland Communications' previous majority owner, Granite Equity Partnership, maintained full ownership of three stations in the Houghton, MI market as Heartland Communications Houghton License, LLC. (5/12/2010)
KARE/11 (Minneapolis) is due to increase its power from 27.1kW to 45.3kW today (May 11). The station says the upgrade should be particularly noticeable to people who live more than 50 miles from its Shoreview transmitter. In the analog era, KARE and most other VHF High stations (channels 7-13) used 316kW, the maximum then allowed. However, VHF High power levels in the Upper Midwest now vary widely from about 10kW to 75kW. KMSP/9, the only other Minneapolis station still broadcasting on VHF, uses 30kW and simulcasts its programming on a subchannel of WFTC/29. (5/11/2010)
Silent, or not? TBN has returned its low-power analog TV stations in Duluth (channel 58) and Rochester (56) to the air, despite having filed notices of suspension of operations with the FCC last week. The stations, K58CM Duluth and K56HW Rochester, had been off the air for about a month. The Christian broadcaster has filed the notices for many of its analog stations in the region over the last several weeks, citing reductions in local support. (5/7/2010)
Former KSTP/1500 (St. Paul) host Tommy Mischke is returning to the airwaves on WCCO/830 (Minneapolis). The station announced he'll host the 10 p.m. to Midnight slot Mondays through Thursdays starting next week (May 10). Meanwhile, the Star Tribune reports veteran capitol reporter Eric Eskola is the latest high-profile personality to accept a buyout from the CBS-owned station, following Tim Russell, Jeff McKinney, and Dark Star. (5/5/2010)
More analog low-power TV stations have gone silent. WBXF-CA/4 (Des Moines), KKAZ-CA/24 (Omaha), and numerous TBN-owned stations have filed notifications of suspensions of operations in recent weeks. WBXF-CA had last been known to carry MTV2 and cites a need to conserve financial resources. KKAZ-CA had relayed sister MyNetworkTV affiliate KPTM/42.2 and cites economic conditions. TBN's notifications all cite "a reduction in local support which we believe is associated with the national transition from analog to digital broadcasting." (5/5/2010)
CBS is returning to the Ottumwa-Kirksville market on a subchannel of ABC affiliate KTVO/3 (Kirksville, MO). The new CBS 3.2 will launch at 7 a.m. on Saturday, May 15. The market hasn't had its own CBS station since KTVO dropped the network decades ago.
Currently, cable systems in the market carry out-of-market CBS affiliates from Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Rock Island, Hannibal, and/or Kansas City. The FCC's "significantly viewed" rules will allow cable systems to continue carrying the out-of-market stations in many cases. Neither satellite provider currently offers local channels in the market.
The only other station in the Ottumwa-Kirksville market is FOX affiliate KYOU-TV/15 (Ottumwa). The market still lacks an NBC affiliate.
KTVO owner Barrington Broadcasting has a similar setup in the neighboring Quincy, IL market, where KHQA/7 (Hannibal, MO) carries CBS on 7.1 and ABC on 7.2. (5/4/2010)
Regent Communications, which owns six stations in the St. Cloud market, has changed its name to Townsquare Media and undergone a management change after emerging from bankruptcy protection. Steven Price is now Chairman/CEO and Stuart Rosenstein is now Executive VP/CFO, replacing William Stakelin and Anthony Vasconcellos. Price and Rosenstein co-founded media investment firm FiveWire Ventures. Townsquare Media's majority shareholder is a fund managed by Oaktree Capital Management, L.P. The company's St. Cloud group includes WJON/1240 (St. Cloud), KXSS/1390 (Waite Park), KMXK/94.9 (Cold Spring), KZRV/96.7 (Sartell), WWJO/98.1 (St. Cloud), and KLZZ/103.7 (Waite Park). The company owns a total of 62 stations in 13 mid-sized markets nationwide. (5/3/2010)
The FCC has approved Clear Channel's purchase of translator K279AZ/103.7 (Cottage Grove) from Educational Media Foundation. K279AZ's application to move its transmitter to the IDS Center in Minneapolis with 170 Watts remains pending. The application stated plans to rebroadcast Clear Channel's KTLK-FM/100.3 on 103.7; FCC rules would allow the translator to relay an HD subchannel or AM station. (5/3/2010)
South Dakota Public Broadcasting has converted its TV translators in Edgemont, Pine Ridge, Pringle, and Wagner to digital. With the change, the Edgemont translator moved from channel 64 to 15, Pine Ridge moved from 6 to 10, Pringle moved from 55 to 39, and Wagner moved from 55 to 8. (5/3/2010)
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