Longtime radio station owner Al Leighton has died at 86. Leighton, who grew up in Elk River, served in the Army during World War II after enlisting at the age of 17. He got his start in radio at KLIZ (Brainerd) in 1951. He and his wife Jean purchased KFAM AM-FM (St. Cloud) in 1975 and converted them to heritage Top 40 station KCLD. Leighton Broadcasting's holdings grew to include four stations in the St. Cloud market, five in the Grand Forks market, and three in the Detroit Lakes market. Details on services are available in this obituary. (6/28/2012)
Hubbard Broadcasting's KSAX/42 (Alexandria) has ended its local news cut-ins, affecting 17 employees.
Station manager Ed Smith said in a statement that the decision was an economic one. "The rising costs of technology, along with increased competition in viewing choices, have made it impossible for the station to remain profitable in its current form," he said.
The affected employees are receiving severance pay and benefits as well as job search assistance. KSAX will keep a small presence in Alexandria, including a studio.
Alexandria is in the Minneapolis market and KSAX repeats programming from Hubbard ABC affiliate KSTP-TV/5.1 (St. Paul); KSAX's programming is, in turn, repeated on KRWF/43.1 (Redwood Falls) and numerous translators. KSAX had inserted news, sports, and weather updates into KSTP's weekday evening newscasts with content from the Alexandria, Willmar, Redwood Falls, Brainerd, and Bemidji areas. The station continues to carry KSTP content without local inserts.
Since KSAX is a satellite of KSTP, it's not carried on DirecTV or DISH Network and satellite TV customers in KSAX's coverage area can only receive KSAX if they have a separate antenna.
KSAX has offered news for 25 years, but the end of its news segments actually means the end of 54 years of newscasts originating from Alexandria. KCMT-TV/7, now KCCO-TV, signed on in 1958 and the city had competing news departments from KSAX's sign-on in 1987 until KCCO ended its news presence in 2002. The region was once its own TV market but became part of the Minneapolis market after the owner of WCCO-TV/4 (Minneapolis) bought KCMT and its Walker satellite (KNMT/12) and converted them to KCCO/KCCW in 1987.
The Bemidji/Brainerd region continues to have a local weekday newscast produced by Lakeland Public Television (KAWE/9 Bemidji and KAWB/22 Brainerd), which is seen on a translator in Alexandria and across the Minneapolis market on DirecTV and DISH Network.
Your reporter is an employee of Hubbard's WDIO-DT in Duluth. (6/26/2012)
The group which operates KWKY/1150 (Des Moines) is buying a central Iowa non-commercial radio station and its Des Moines translator from a national broadcater. Norwalk-based St. Gabriel Communications will pay Calvary Radio Network $600,000 for KIHS/88.5 (Adel) and translator K233BT/94.5 (Des Moines). St. Gabriel Communications says in paperwork filed with the FCC that it intends to simulcast KWKY's Catholic format on KIHS. (6/26/2012)
KBGG/1700 (Des Moines) is the only announced Upper Midwest affiliate of the CBS Sports Network, which is slated to start offering sports updates in September and go on the air full-time in January. CBS will carry the network on 22 of its owned-and-operated stations (none in Minneapolis are on the list) and Cumulus Media, which will distribute the network, will carry it on an additional 67 stations, including KBGG. The initial announcement did not list which Cumulus stations outside the top 100 markets would carry the network. CBS Sports Radio may be the sixth 24-hour Sports network. (6/22/2012)
Tor Ingstad's Iowa City Broadcasting is buying the construction permit for a new station in the Thief River Falls market. Normin Broadcasting won the CP for a Red Lake allotment in an auction last year and moved the allotment to Red Lake Falls, where it will use 50kW/105m (class C2). Iowa City Broadcasting will pay Normin $100,000 for the station. The buyer also owns KTRF/1230, KKAQ/1460, and KKDQ/99.3 (Thief River Falls). (6/22/2012)
Legacy Communications' KKJK/103.1 (Ravenna-Tri Cities) has dropped Hard Rock for Contemporary Hits as "2Day FM," taking on NRG Media's "Hits 105.9" (KQKY Kearney). The new format debuted Wednesday afternoon (June 20) after a few days of stunting. KKJK had signed on with the "Thunder" Hard Rock format in 2006. Legacy also owns Country, Classic Rock, and News/Talk stations in the market. (6/21/2012)
The FCC has approved a move to the country for WDAY/970 (Fargo). The station will move its transmitter about 25 miles southeast to a site near Barnesville, MN, and increase power from 5kW to 10kW. The station is currently non-directional during the day and directional at night; under the construction permit, it will use different directional patterns day and night. WDAY is owned by Forum Communications and carries a News/Talk format. (6/20/2012)
Canadian regulators have denied an application for a new Christian FM station serving two northern Manitoba towns. Tom Heeney had proposed using 32 Watts on 96.9 in The Pas, with a rebroadcasting transmitter on the same frequency in Flin Flon with 21 Watts. The decision comes after a series of exchanges between the CRTC and Heeney in which the applicant changed the station's programming plans several times. The CRTC said the absence of concrete programming plans made it impossible to evaluate the adequacy of the overall application and said Heeney has not "demonstrated an understanding of key policies and regulations as it relates to radio programming undertakings." (6/18/2012)
Michiguide.com reports WOBE/100.7 (Crystal Falls-Iron Mountain) has dropped Classic Hits in favor of Contemporary Hits as "Radio Now." The Results Broadcasting station is referring former listeners to its similarly-formatted 106.7 "The Mountain" (WHTO Iron Mountain). The stations had launched separately but came under common ownership in 2005 and became more similar as WHTO's Oldies format evolved towards Classic Hits. WOBE is the larger of the two signals. (6/14/2012)
IOWA/MINNESOTA/NEBRASKA/NORTH DAKOTA/SOUTH DAKOTA:
Hoak Media and DISH Network patched things up earlier this week, restoring service in five Upper Midwest markets after an retransmission consent dispute left the stations off DISH for six days. Affected stations included KVLY-NBC (Fargo), KXJB-CBS (Valley City-Fargo), KFYR-NBC (Bismarck), KSFY-ABC (Sioux Falls), KHAS-NBC (Hastings-Kearney-Lincoln), KNOP-NBC (North Platte), and K11TW-FOX (North Platte). (6/14/2012)
Twin Cities broadcast TV viewers will find more changes to their channel lineup today as Hubbard Broadcasting changes the virtual channel numbers coming from KSTC-TV (RF 45). The station's primary Independent programming, marketed as "Channel 45," will move from 5.45 to 5.2. Me-TV will continue on 5.3, while This TV will move from 5.4 to 5.6 and Antenna TV will be added at 5.4. Antenna TV will take over This TV's spot on cable systems. ABC continues on 5.1 from KSTP-TV (RF 35), but the channel that had been playing news repeats on 45.5 is now gone, meaning there is no longer any station on virtual channel 45. (6/14/2012)
The Alexandria Echo Press recently reported that Selective TV has made more changes to its Alexandria translator system. Most translators had already converted to digital but were not yet passing through PSIP data from the originating Twin Cities stations, meaning stations didn't show up on their regular channel numbers. That's now changed, with KMSP remapping to 9, KARE to 11, etc., and all subchannels being carried. The lineup includes KMSP (FOX 9.1), KARE (NBC 11.1, WeatherNation TV 11.2), WUCW (CW 23.1, Cool TV 23.2, Country Network 23.3), WFTC (MNT 29.1), KPXM (Ion 41.1, Ion Life 41.2, Qubo 41.3), and KSTC (Independent 45.5, Me-TV 5.3, This TV 5.4). Ten channels from PBS stations KWCM/10.1 (Appleton) and KAWB/22.1 (Brainerd) continue to be offered. Selective TV used to be known for the high number of non-broadcast channels it offered and is still offering RFD-TV on 21.1 and multiplexing FamilyNet, The Weather Channel, C-SPAN, and MSNBC on 32.1 through 32.4. Analog translators remain on the air carrying KSAX-ABC (18), KAWB-PBS (47), and The Weather Channel (50).
Meanwhile, translator systems in Granite Falls, Redwood Falls, and Olivia have recently converted to digital, but information on their exact lineups is not available online. It would appear most Twin Cities stations are being carried on those systems, in addition to some non-broadcast channels in Granite Falls and Redwood Falls. (6/13/2012)
Another new FM station could be coming to the Rapid City market. Alex Media, which won the auction for a new station licensed to Lead, is proposing a frequency change that would allow it to deliver a strong signal to Rapid City. The current allotment is for a class C station (100kW/600m) on 94.3. However, the existence of KKMK/93.9 (Rapid City) prohibits any station on 94.3 from delivering a strong signal to Rapid City. (A previous unbuilt construction permit for the Lead allotment called for a transmitter site in Wyoming.) Now, Alex Media is proposing moving the allotment to 96.7, which would enable it to transmit from the Terry Peak antenna farm near Lead with 100kW/501m. To make way for the change, KZMX-FM/96.7 (Hot Springs) would have to move to 96.3. Alex Media would pay for KZMX-FM's move and says 102.3 and 103.3 also appear to be available in Hot Springs if KZMX-FM doesn't like 96.3. The company also points out that 94.3 could even be re-alloted to Lead if the existing allotments move to 96.7 is approved. (6/11/2012)
WLFN/1490 (La Crosse) will flip from Soft Oldies to News/Talk on July 1 as "Today's Talk 1490," according to a station page set up on Facebook. La Crosse Radio Group news director Bob Schmidt will host a local morning show. The syndicated lineup includes Dennis Miller from 9-Noon, Michael Smernicosh from 12-3, Vicki McKenna from 3-6, the Wall Street Journal Daily Wrap from 6-9, Alan Colmes from 9-Midnight, Overnight in America from Midnight-4, and the Wall Street Journal Morning Report from 4-6. (6/8/2012)
KIMM/1150 (Rapid City), which is also heard on FM translator K294BT/106.7, has switched most of its lineup from Classic Country to Talk. KIMM had already carried Don Imus from 5-9 a.m. and recently added Dennis Miller from 10-1, Clark Howard from 1-4, and Jason Lewis from 4-6. Other Talk runs in the evening and overnight, while Classic Country continues on the weekend. The move comes after KTOQ/1340 (Rapid City) switched from Talk to Sports. (6/7/2012)
IOWA/MINNESOTA/NEBRASKA/NORTH DAKOTA/SOUTH DAKOTA:
Hoak Media stations are no longer on DISH Network amid a national retransmission consent dispute. Affected stations include KVLY-NBC (Fargo), KXJB-CBS (Valley City-Fargo), KFYR-NBC (Bismarck), KSFY-ABC (Sioux Falls), KHAS-NBC (Hastings-Kearney-Lincoln), KNOP-NBC (North Platte), and K11TW-FOX (North Platte). The outage began at 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 6. (6/6/2012)
KLKS/104.3 (Breezy Point-Brainerd) is being sold to Minnesota Christian Broadcasters, Inc., which plans to continue operating the station commercially, according to an FCC filing. MCBI will pay Lakes Broadcasting Group $350,000 for KLKS. The station has carried a Nostalgia/Easy Listening format since longtime Minnesota broadcaster Ernest Bundgaard, better known by his on-air name Allen Gray, signed it on in 1984. Bundgaard recently transferred his ownership in the station to his sons. MCBI owns three non-commercial Christian stations: KTIG/102.7 (Pequot Lakes-Brainerd), 100.1 "The Pulse" (WZFG Pequot Lakes-Brainerd), and KCFB/91.5 (St. Cloud). (6/6/2012)
The two Waseca-licensed stations have made changes: the True Oldies Channel moved from KRUE/92.1 to KOWZ/1170 and "KORN Country" (KKOR) launched on 92.1. The change ends a News/Talk format that had run on 1170, which is going by "Krue" but is still officially KOWZ in the FCC database. KOWZ and KRUE are owned by Main Street Broadcasting, which also owns Adult Contemporary-formatted KOWZ-FM/100.9 (Blooming Prairie-Owatonna). 92.1's new format mainly competes with Cumulus Media's "Kat Country 105" (KRFO-FM/104.9 Owatonna). (6/5/2012, updated callsigns 6/6)
Radio/DX Information from Wisconsin reports that two southeastern Wisconsin radio stations have returned to the air. WNOV/860 (Milwaukee) had gone silent after a dispute between the licensee and the company that had been operating the station. An FM translator that had relayed WNOV, owned by the former operator, remains silent. Meanwhile, WZRK/1550 (Lake Geneva) had gone silent after copper thieves struck the tower site. (6/5/2012)
Minnesota Public Radio's News network has added BBC's "Newshour" at 2 p.m. weekdays, replacing the second hour of NPR's "Talk of the Nation." "Newshour" is the BBC's flagship news program. The change took effect June 4. (6/5/2012)
Gabriel Communications is buying KYES/1180 (Rockville-St. Cloud) from Throw Fire Project for $500,000. The buyer, headed by market veteran Andy Hilger, also owns "Spirit 92.9" (KKJM St. Joseph-St. Cloud) and has already been operating KYES under a shared services agreement since it signed on in 2009. (6/5/2012)
Saga Communications is buying translator K238BA/95.5 (Mitchell) from Edgewater Broadcasting for $15,000. The application states Saga plans to use the translator to relay its KMIT/105.9 (Mitchell), though it could be used to relay an HD2 channel if Saga converts KMIT to HD. Saga also owns translator K278BJ/103.5 (Mitchell); it's not clear whether either translator is currently on the air or what they're carrying. (6/5/2012)
KDNZ/1250 (Cedar Falls-Waterloo) has changed back to its heritage callsign, KCFI. The move follows the station's recent format change to Oldies. (6/5/2012)
The KOIL callsign has returned to its heritage home, 1290 in Omaha (formerly KKAR). The station continues its longtime News/Talk format but is now going by "The Mighty 1290" rather than "K-Car." NRG Media returned KOIL to 1290 after changing the former KOIL/1180 (Bellevue-Omaha) to KZOT, "The Zone 2" (see below). The KOIL callsign has been in use in the market since the 1920's and first left 1290 for 1180 in 1993, moved to 1020 (Plattsmouth-Omaha) in 2003, and returned to 1180 in 2009. Ironically, the move to preserve the KOIL callsign eliminates another market heritage callsign, KKAR, which was first used on 1180 in 1987 and moved to 1290 in 1993. (6/5/2012)
KOIL/1180 (Bellevue-Omaha) will drop News/Talk for Sports as a secondary outlet of sister NRG Media station "The Zone" (KOZN/1620) on June 4. According to the Nebraska Broadcasters Association, 1180 will change its callsign to KZOT and go by "The Zone 2, The Duece," and carry a mix of shows from FOX Sports Radio and Yahoo! Sports Radio along with local play-by-play. (KOZN carries other FOX Sports programming, and Journal's KXSP/590 carries ESPN.) 1180's current format of syndicated conservative and consumer talk shows has been in place for a little over three years. NRG has filed to move the legendary KOIL callsign to a different station, but it's not yet clear which one. (6/1/2012)
The Sioux Falls CW affiliation will move from KWSD/36.1 to KSFY/13.2 this Sept. 10, KSFY announced Thursday. It was not immediately clear whether the CW would be simulcast on KSFY satellites KABY/9 (Aberdeen) and KPRY/4 (Pierre), but the station did say the CW would be carried on cable and satellite. KSFY is a primary ABC affiliate and does not currently have a subchannel. It's not yet known what's in store for KWSD, which currently carries the CW on its primary channel and Retro TV on 36.2. (6/1/2012)
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