July 2015

The owner of KZOY/1520 and K221FO/92.1 (Sioux Falls) has told the FCC that it still expects the sale of the stations to a pawn shop owner to close, despite the seller suing the buyer.

The Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports that Cup O' Dirt LLC has filed suit against Chuck Brennan's Badlands Pawn over the way the purchase has been handled. Cup O' Dirt's John Small tells the paper he's upset that Brennan announced the sale in December, two months before the $1.5 million asset purchase agreement was signed, and says the `80s Hits station has lost advertisers and employees as a result of the early announcement. Brennan has indicated that the station will change to a Rock format originating from his new pawn shop complex on Thanksgiving Day. The paper reports the two sides are also fighting over access to money in an escrow account.

The same week the lawsuit was filed, Cup O' Dirt's attorney filed a notice of extension of consummation with the FCC, indicating that the sale has not yet been completed but is still expected to close.

The newspaper article does not mention that Brennan's Badlands Airtime LLC has also received FCC approval to buy KCFS/94.5 (Sioux Falls) from the University of Sioux Falls in a deal also valued at $1.5 million. KCFS has also applied to upgrade to 25kW/88m, far stronger than K221FO's 99-Watt signal. (7/31/2015)

Ownership of KCHE/1440 and KCHE-FM/92.1 (Cherokee) is transferring from father to son. After more than three years of operating the stations through a local marketing agreement, Simon Fuller's Better Broadcasting Corp. is buying the stations from Jeff Fuller's J&J Radio Corp. for $1.35 million. Jeff Fuller is also the majority owner of Five Star Communications, which owns two stations in Vermillion, SD. (7/31/2015)

Media General stations returned to Mediacom cable systems late Wednesday night (7/29) after a retransmission consent dispute that lasted 15 days. The stations affected the most were NBC affiliate KWQC/6 (Davenport) and CBS affiliate KIMT/3 (Mason City), which are in areas where Mediacom is the core city cable provider. CBS affiliate KELO-TV/11 (Sioux Falls) was also affected with cable outages in the Brookings area and southwestern Minnesota, though Sioux Falls itself is served by a different provider. The stations' subchannels were also affected. (7/30/2015)

The Duluth TV market now has the unique distinction of having three subchannels available via satellite after the launch of MeTV affiliate WDIO-DT2 (Duluth) on DISH Network channel 13 this week. Satellite providers generally don't carry subchannels, but "CW2" (KDLH-DT2 Duluth) and "My9" (KBJR-DT2 Superior-Duluth) are both carried by DISH as well. DirecTV's Duluth package includes CW2 but not the other subchannels. Satellite usage is high in the market, which stretches from the Canadian border to the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan, because its large geographic size prohibits over-the-air reception in many areas. (7/30/2015)

"Duke" has chased "Willie" out of Fargo: Days after Classic Country "Duke FM" launched on KMJO/104.7 (Hope-Fargo), KQWB/1660 (West Fargo-Fargo) has dropped its "Willie" Classic Country format for Sports. KQWB had carried ESPN Radio from 2007 until flipping to Oldies in 2012 and then "Willie" last year; it is now carrying FOX Sports Radio. The change may have happened the day after "Duke" launched, according to an unattributed update on Wikipedia. KQWB is owned by James Ingstad's Radio F-M Media and is the only AM station in the group. (7/29/2015)

The panhandle city of Kimball no longer has any radio licenses after Cedar Cove Broadcasting returned the license for KBHM/88.3 (Kimball), which filings indicate had actually never been on the air for more than a few days at a time since receiving its license in 2011. Attorneys for Cedar Cove Broadcasting asked the FCC in a letter last month to cancel its license, along with applications for a facility change and license transfer, with no explanation for the decision. KBHM was formerly KVAM. Cedar Cove Broadcasting is owned by Victor Michael, whose Laramie Mountain Broadcasting also returned the license for KIMB/1260 (Kimball) earlier this year after a decade of limited operations. The existence of the non-commercial FM station had been necessary for KIMB, under earlier ownership, to obtain a construction permit to move to move to Ogallala, but that move was never made. (7/29/2015)

Canadian regulators have approved a move to FM for CBC Radio One in Nakina. A new 50-Watt transmitter on 98.1 will replace 40-Watt CBLN/1240, which relays CBQT/88.3 (Thunder Bay). Nakina is a former township now located within the amalgamated Municipality of Greenstone. (7/29/2015)

The De La Hunt family's Normin Broadcasting has applied to move an FM translator to the Verndale area to replace some of the FM coverage lost when it sold off KSKK/94.7 (Staples), which the new owner moved out of the area. The family's KSKK/1070 (Verndale), formerly KVKK, assumed KSKK's Adult Contemporary format and would be relayed on K285FB/104.9 if the FCC approves a waiver to move K285FB's transmitter to the KSKK site east of Verndale. K285FB recently increased its antenna height to widen its coverage area, qualifying it for a so-called "Mattoon waiver" that allows FM translators to move farther than they are otherwise allowed to move. If approved, K285FB's 250-Watt signal would cover the area between Staples and Wadena but wouldn't have nearly the coverage of the former 50kW signal of KSKK/94.7. (7/28/2015)

iHeartMedia's "Y95-7" (KOSY Anamosa-Cedar Rapids) has completed an upgrade improving coverage of Cedar Rapids. The station previously used 6kW/100m (class A) from a site west of Anamosa and is now using 18kW/118m (C3) from the longtime WMT/600 tower site north of Marion. A directional antenna is used to limit interference to KZAT/95.5 (Belle Plaine). "Y95-7" is in a three way Contemporary Hits competition with locally-owned KZIA/102.9 (Cedar Rapids) and Townsquare Media's "i107-1" (KRQN Vinton-Cedar Rapids), not to mention additional CHR outlets from the Quad Cities and Waterloo that can also be heard in Cedar Rapids. (7/27/2015)

The dispute over the sale of KXMZ/102.7 (Box Elder-Rapid City) to Pandora Media continues without the national media coverage that came with two earlier FCC decisions on the matter. ASCAP has been fighting the sale because of Pandora's stated intention of using its ownership of KXMZ to seek lower online music streaming rates. ASCAP has now filed a petition for reconsideration of last month's decision to approve the sale, saying it contains "significant errors and inaccuracies." The group believes that it did have standing to file for a petition to deny because it says lower royalty rates are an injury or harm to ASCAP. ASCAP also contends that the FCC's Audio Division deviated from a declaratory ruling released in May when it issued its decision in June. In an opposition to the petition for reconsideration, Pandora says ASCAP is misreading the rules and the FCC got it right the first time. KXMZ carries an Adult Top 40 format called "Hits 102.7." (7/27/2015)

Gray TV CBS affiliate WSAW/7 (Wausau) has added FOX on channel 7.3, simulcasting low-power "FOX 55" (WZAW-LD/55.1 Wausau). Gray launched WZAW-LD at the beginning of the month to assume the programming and channel position of WFXS-DT/55.1 (Wittenberg), which went silent after Gray bought the rights to its programming. (FCC ownership caps prohibited Gray from buying WFXS outright, but LPTV stations are not subject to ownership caps.) Many viewers had complained that they could no longer receive FOX after 55.1 downgraded to 15kW, the maximum allowed for LPTV stations. FOX replaces Heores & Icons TV on channel 7.3; WSAW continues to carry MyNetworkTV and other syndicated programming on 7.2, while WZAW-LD also carries Me-TV on 55.2 and Movies! on 55.3. (7/27/2015)

Midwest Communications is buying an FM translator to use for WHBL/1330 (Sheboygan). It'll pay Edgewater Broadcasting $34,000 for 250-Watt W268BR/101.5, which is not yet on the air. WHBL carries a News/Talk format. W268BR is one of nine FM translators licensed or permitted in Sheboygan, more than any other city in the region. (7/27/2015)

The operator of Family Radio is selling one FM station and one FM translator in Iowa to the operator of the "K-Love" and "Air-1" networks. The Educational Media Foundation will pay Family Stations $553,750 for two stations and four translators in three states, including KIFR/89.5 (Fort Dodge) and K208FV/89.5 (Ames). A main studio waiver request says KIFR will carry "K-Love." (7/24/2015)

The FCC's Audio Division has begun an apparent crackdown on the practice of new radio stations going silent immediately after their license is granted.

As first reported by the CommLawBlog, radio licenses issued since July 2 contain this condition: "Grant of this license application is conditioned on continuous operations of the licensed facility for the twelve-month period following grant. Failure to do so will result in the rescission of this grant, dismissal of the license application and the forfeiture of the associated construction permit pursuant to 47 C.F.R. 73.3598(c) unless licensee rebuts presumption that authorized facilities were temporarily constructed."

The condition has appeared on full-power radio station licenses, both commercial and non-commercial, but not on FM translator, low-power FM, or low-power TV licenses. There have not been any full-power TV licenses issued since last year, so it's not clear if the condition might apply to TV.

The condition means a station can't apply for special temporary authority to remain silent within one year of the license being granted, unless it can prove the facilities were intended to be on the air permanently. For the past decade or so, it has been a regular occurrence for new stations to apply for a license to cover and then immediately apply for authority to remain silent once the license is granted. The move gave station owners more than the three years specified in construction permit deadlines to get the new station on the air.

In one extreme case, Radioactive LLC had two FM stations in rural Iowa which were licensed for seven years but were never on the air for more than one day per year during that time, according to the stations' filings with the FCC. Earlier this year, Radioactive surrendered the licenses, saying they did not return to the air for the February 2015 broadcasts required to keep the licenses. Federal law automatically cancels licenses when stations are silent for one year.

The FCC has not made a formal announcement of this new condition. (7/23/2015)

Midwest Radio Fargo-Moorhead has made changes at two of its stations, upgrading an Adult Contemporary format, adding Classic Country, and dropping Rock. On Wednesday, the "Mix" Adult Contemporary format moved from KMJO/104.7 (Hope-Fargo) to KRWK/101.9 (Fargo), displacing "Rock 102." 104.7 then picked up the "Duke FM" Classic Country format that Midwest Communications carries in several other markets. Midwest had launched "Rock" and "Mix" after buying the stations two years ago. 101.9 has a slightly stronger signal in Fargo-Moorhead than 104.7 due to its tower location. "Duke FM" works in tandem with Midwest's "Froggy 99.9" (KVOX-FM Moorhead-Fargo) in competition with James Ingstad's "Bob 95 FM" (KBVB/95.1 Barnesville-Fargo). Midwest also owns Contemporary Hits outlet "Y94" (WDAY-FM/93.7 Fargo) and two AM stations in the market. (7/22/2015)

Perry again has a voice on the FM dial now that M&M Broadcasting has signed on K259AT/99.7, relaying the Oldies/Classic Hits format of KDLS/1310 (Perry). The translator broadcasts with 250 Watts from KDLS' tower site east of Perry and was moved in from Boone, where it remains licensed. KDLS' former FM partner, KDLS-FM/105.5 (Perry), was sold to another group and moved into the Des Moines market seven years ago. (7/21/2015)

The UW Board of Regents, on behalf of UW-La Crosse, has surrendered its construction permit for a new low-power FM station on 89.9 in La Crosse. The Regents did not state the reason for the decision in its letter to the FCC. The station was to have carried UWL student programming, which is currently heard on a web stream. The Regents and the Educational Communications Board operate two Wisconsin Public Radio stations based on the UWL campus. (7/20/2015)

Fledgling network Heroes & Icons TV now has the unusual fortune of having primary full-power affiliations in both of North Dakota's TV markets. H&I, which focuses on classic crime, western, and war shows, is being carried on Ravi Kapur's KRDK/4.1 (Valley City-Fargo) and Legacy Broadcasting's KNDB/26.1 (Bismarck) and KNDM/24.1 (Minot). The stations were all sold off last year after Gray TV acquired the rights to their former big-four network affiliations and moved them to subchannels of its own stations. H&I is operated by Chicago-based Weigel Broadcasting and is a sister to MeTV, the leading digital subchannel network. KRDK also carries a half-dozen other channels, including Weigel's Decades and Movies! networks. (7/16/2015)

FOX 15 (KYOU-TV Ottumwa) is apparently planning to add a newscast in the near future, with job postings for a news reporter/anchor and executive producer. The station did not respond to an inquiry seeking additional information. KYOU is owned by American Spirit Media and is one of only two stations in the small market, which also includes Kirksville, MO. Its competitor, Sinclair ABC/CBS affiliate KTVO/3.1 (Kirksville, MO), has a long-established news department. (7/15/2015)

A belated note that KDJL/99.5 (Kilgore-Valentine) is on the air, rebroadcasting sister station KSDZ/95.5 (Gordon). KDJL apparently signed on in late June. The stations carry a unique blend of Cumulus Media's Real Country format during the day and a syndicated Classic Hits format at night as "The Twister." KDJL uses 25kW/87m (class C3) from a tower north of Valentine and replaces a translator, K258AI/99.5, that had relayed KSDZ in Valentine. KSDZ and KDJL are owned by DJ Broadcasting, which won the construction permit for 99.5 with a $2,500 bid in a 2013 auction and moved it from Rosebud, SD to Kilgore, NE. (7/14/2015)

Facing a lawsuit over use of the name "KORN Country," KKOR-FM/92.1 (Waseca-Owatonna) has switched its name to "Krue Country" and reverted to its previous callsign, KRUE. The change restores the slogan that had been used on the frequency with different formats from 1993 until the "KORN Country" launch two years ago. The Mason City Globe Gazette reported last month that KKOR owner Main Street Broadcasting had been sued by Riverfront Communications, owner of KORN/1490 (Mitchell, SD), alleging that Main Street didn't have permission to use the KORN name. Meanwhile, sister Main Street Broadcasting station KRUE/1170 (Waseca) has reverted to the KOWZ callsign, matching that of the group's third station, KOWZ-FM/100.9 (Blooming Prairie). (7/13/2015)


  • KCIZ-LP/103.5 (Brunswick, MN) tested its signal last month and will eventually be on the air with a community/variety format as "Lakes 103."
  • KTWH-LP/99.5 (Two Harbors, MN) tested its signal on Saturday (7/11) and will eventually be on the air with a community/variety format.
  • KMKP-LP/106.5 (Holdrege, NE), KNKP-LP/104.3 (Imperial, NE), and KMAY-LP/102.7 (York, NE) are on the air carrying the "Spirit Catholic Radio" network.
  • KXYM-LP/98.9 (Belcourt, ND) is on the air carrying the "Real Presence Radio" Catholic network.
  • WSWJ-LP/104.7 (Hager City, WI-Red Wing, MN) is on the air with Christian programming.
  • WADR-LP/103.5 (Janesville, WI) is on the air with a community/variety format.
  • WASB-LP/96.5 (Stanley, WI) is on the air with Catholic programming.
  • WILW-LP/96.3 (Waupaca, WI), owned by the City of Waupaca, signed on last month carrying Oldies and plans to debut a broader format this coming Thursday (7/16). It will carry city council meetings and some rebroadcasts of programs from the city's cable TV channel.
  • WAUP-LP/99.1 (Waupaca, WI) signed on Saturday (7/11) with a mix of Oldies and Album Rock, with plans for a broader community/variety format. (7/13/2015)

    Horizon Broadcasting is selling KOJY/106.9 (Bloomfield) to Tri-Rivers Broadcasting for $190,000. The buyer owns KMEM/100.5 (Memphis, MO), and this deal restores a co-ownership of the two stations that had been in place from 2005 to 2009. KOJY currently carries a Southern Gospel format along with American Radio Missions Foundation's KRNF/88.7 (Montezuma), which is being sold to VCY America. Both Horizon Broadcasting and American Radio Missions Foundation are headed by Doug Smiley of Pella. (7/13/2015)

    There are several recent updates from Ironwood to pass along:

  • West Central Michigan Media Ministries is buying W220DP/91.9 from WRVM, Inc. for $4,000. The buyer operates the "Strong Tower Radio" network heard on WUPJ/90.9 (Escanaba), WIHC/97.9 (Newberry) and several stations in the lower peninsula. 7/19 addition: W220DP is currently carrying "K-Love," also heard on WIMK/88.3 (Ironwood)
  • WUPM/106.9 is now using a taller temporary tower after its April tower collapse. It's not immediately clear what wattage or antenna height is currently being used, but the station says on its Facebook page that the signal is going out about 40 to 50 miles. WUPM normally uses 53kW/151m (class C1) but had been using just 170 Watts with a repurposed translator.
  • Late last month, the FCC finalized a $10,500 fine against J&J Broadcasting for public file and tower registration violations at WJMS/590 and WIMI/99.7. The FCC agreed to reduce the fine from the $13,000 that had originally been proposed. (7/13/2015)

    The Nebraska Broadcasters Association plans to induct Marty Riemenschneider and Chuck Stevens into its Hall of Fame next moth. Riemenschneider spent 44 years in the industry, working his way up to serve as Mitchell Broadcasting's group head before becoming the NBA's President/Executive Director in 2002. He retired at the end of last year. Stevens worked in Lincoln radio and TV for 52 years, starting at KOLN-TV/10 and eventually retiring from KFOR/1240 in 2012 after 30 years there. Riemenschneider and Stevens, who will be the 93rd and 94th members of the NBA Hall of Fame, will be inducted on August 11 in Omaha during the association's 81st annual convention. (7/13/2015)

    K296FI/107.1 (Pierre) remains off the air following storms that moved through central South Dakota on June 22. The station, which normally rebroadcasts the Classic Country format of KGFX/1060 (Pierre), tells the FCC in a request for special temporary authority to remain silent that new equipment has been ordered to replace damaged equipment. The storm also knocked "River 92.7" (KGFX-FM Pierre) and "100.1 The Eagle" (KJBI Fort Pierre) off the air for a few days. The stations are owned by Janice Ingstad's James River Broadcasting Company. (7/13/2015)

    WELY-FM/94.5 (Ely) is dropping its longtime Adult Alternative/Folk format for Classic Rock. The Ely Echo reports the change is officially beginning Monday, though the station has already incorporated some Classic Rock into its playlist. The paper reports the station will continue to carry hourly newscasts, the Twins, the Vikings, and weekend programs including a Saturday morning polka show. WELY-FM and WELY/1450, which carries syndicated Talk and Sports, are the only commercial radio stations in the iconic town on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The new format will compete directly with Red Rock Radio's KAOD/106.7 (Babbitt), which carries a Classic Rock that originates at KQDS-FM/94.9 (Duluth). Minnesota Public Radio recently brought its "The Current" Adult Alternative service to Ely on translator W267BV/101.3. WELY AM-FM is owned by the Bois Forte Tribal Council. (7/11/2015)

    Less than three years after signing on WBKK/820 (Wilton-Bemidji), the De La Hunt family is selling it to non-commercial broadcaster Real Presence Radio. The Catholic network will pay Edward Paul De La Hunt's Bemidji Radio Inc. $225,000 for WBKK. The station, which currently carries a mix of Conservative Talk and Oldies with CBS News on the hour, uses 10kW day and 750 Watts night from a three-tower array north of Itasca State Park. The deal does not include WBKK translator K276EP/103.1 (Bemidji) or several other stations operated by the De La Hunt family in the area. Real Presence Radio is currently heard on affiliate KBJI-LP/106.3 (Bemidji). The network owns two AM stations in the Red River Valley and four full-power FM stations in western North Dakota; it's in the process of buying KQFR/89.9 (Rapid City, SD) and expects that deal to close in the next three months. (7/8/2015)

    Country-formatted "Bob 95 FM" (KBVB/95.1 Barnesville-Fargo) has signed on satellite station KDLB/94.5 (Frazee-Detroit Lakes), restoring coverage of the lakes area that was lost when KBVB moved its transmitter closer to Fargo six years ago. KDLB, formerly KSKK/94.7 (Staples), signed on about ten days after KSKK left the air (see below) and uses 11kW/150m (class C3) from a tower near Detroit Lakes. The stations are owned by James Ingstad's Radio Fargo-Moorhead, which does business as Radio FM Media. KDLB competes locally with Leighton Enterprises' KRCQ/102.3 (Detroit Lakes). (7/7/2015)

    Flood Communications of Beatrice, LLC is buying KWBE/1450 (Beatrice), KUTT/99.3 (Fairbury-Beatrice), and KGMT/1310 (Fairbury) from Rick Siebert for $7 million. The stations serve an area south of Lincoln and will be sisters to Flood's groups in the Nebraska City/Omaha and Norfolk areas. The company is also in the process of buying low-power TV stations in Beatrice, Columbus, Norfolk, Grand Island, and Hastings. (7/7/2015)

    Gray TV has taken over the FOX affiliation in the Wausau market, buying the programming and other non-license assets of WFXS/55.1 (Wittenberg-Wausau) to operate alongside existing CBS affiliate WSAW/7 (Wausau).

    WFXS went silent on July 1 and its entire lineup, including FOX programming and the Me-TV and Movies! subchannels, moved Gray's recently-acquired low-power station WZAW-LD (Wausau), which is using WFXS' former virtual 55.1 to 55.3 channels. WFXS owner Davis Televison indicated in an FCC filing that it plans to return the WFXS license after selling the non-license assets to Gray. The purchase price was not disclosed in a press release announcing the deal.

    Gray could not buy WFXS' license because ownership caps prohibit one company from owning more than one of the top four full-power TV stations in a market. However, LPTV stations are not covered by ownership rules.

    The assets sold include the WFXS transmitter, which had broadcast with 685kW as WFXS but is now being used by WZAW-LD at reduced power of 15kW, the maximum allowed for low-power TV stations, according to a request for special temporary authority approved by the FCC. The LPTV station had originally been permitted to transmit on channel 33, but Gray told the FCC that it needed to use channel 31 because it couldn't secure a channel 33 transmitter in time for its desired July 1 airdate.

    Since WZAW-LD is transmitting on WFXS' former RF channel and remapping to its former PSIP channels, some viewers in the immediate Wausau area may not notice the change. However, the LPTV signal can't reach outlying areas of the market such as Rhinelander and Marshfield, and some viewers have already taken to the station's Facebook page to complain.

    WFXS had signed on in 1999 as part of a wave of station startups that completed FOX coverage of small markets. It had carried a 9 p.m. newscast produced by Quincy ABC affiliate WAOW/9 (Wausau), and WSAW says it'll launch its own 9 p.m. newscast on WZAW-LD this fall.

    Gray TV has been acquiring multiple big-four network affiliations in many markets, including Lincoln, Fargo, and Bismarck. Its recent purchase of LPTV stations in Sioux Falls and Rapid City may indicate a desire to create similar setups in those markets. (7/1/2015)

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