August 2016

After two years as Country-formatted "The Hawk," Townsquare Media's KQCS/104.9 (DeWitt-Quad Cities) flipped to Classic Hits as "KIIK (Kick) 104.9" on Wednesday (8/31). The playlist consisting of hits from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s is positioned as "The Quad Cities' Greatest Hits." It has no direct competitor in the market, which has not had a core FM signal carrying Classic Hits for a few years. As of Wednesday evening, Townsquare had not yet activated the website or Facebook page for the new format, but it is streaming through the old Hawk website. (8/31/2016)

Commercials will no longer be airing on the CBC's two music networks after the CRTC denied permission to extend a condition of the networks' licenses allowing up to four minutes of national advertising per hour. The commercials had aired since 2013 on CBC Radio 2, which has stations in Winnipeg, Brandon, and Thunder Bay, and the French-language ICI Musique, which has a station in Winnipeg. While the CRTC found that the broadcast of commercials had not negatively affected commercial broadcasters or been disruptive to listeners, it decided that the CBC has not met its pledge to maintain its investment in radio. The networks' information-based networks, CBC Radio One and ICI Première, have been commercial-free since 1975, except for parliamentary advertising. CBC's TV channels air commercials just like other networks. (8/31/2016)

Documents filed with the FCC reveal that the price for Midwest Communications' purchase of five northern Minnesota radio stations from Red Rock Radio is $5.625 million, and that an Iron Range station will be divested as part of the deal.

As previously reported, Midwest is buying Classic Rocker KQDS-FM/94.9 (Duluth) to add to its Twin Ports group, as well as KQDS-FM rebroadcasters KAOD/106.7 (Babbitt) and WXXZ/95.3 (Grand Marais), Iron Range Adult Contemporary outlet WEVE/97.9 (Eveleth), Iron Range Country outlet KGPZ/96.1 (Coleraine), and three WEVE translators on the Iron Range.

Midwest has an existing six-station group in Duluth. Though six was previously the ownership cap for Duluth, Midwest says in its filing that the market now has more than the 30 stations required for a seven-station group after to the sign-on of a few non-commercial stations in recent years.

However, a divestiture is required on the Iron Range. Midwest currently owns six stations based in Hibbing and plans to divest Classic Rocker KMFG/102.9 (Nashwauk-Hibbing) due to overlap with KGPZ. WEVE's transmitter is far enough east that its city-grade signal does not overlap with KGPZ's signal, and does not count as a seventh Hibbing station. (Contour-based ownership rules are in effect on the Iron Range because it is not a rated market.)

The filing also reveals that Midwest plans to switch the current WEVE translator in Hibbing (W252AN/98.3) to KGPZ and the current WEVE translator in Ely (W288AI/105.5) to KAOD. The company told the Duluth News Tribune last week that it intends to continue the KQDS-FM simulcast on KAOD and WXXZ. (8/31/2016)

KXLQ/1490 (Indianola) has filed a notification of suspension of operations with the FCC. The station, owned by Birach Broadcasting, says in the filing that it experienced transmitter issues on August 25. It requests to remain silent for 180 days while the transmitter is repaired. The station serves an area south of Des Moines and carries a Sports format. (8/30/2016)

The FCC has deleted the license of KXZS/107.5 (Wall), which records indicate had been silent since March 2015. Federal law says stations forfeit their license if they are silent for more than a year. KXZS initially received its license, serving the Badlands east of Rapid City, in 2011, but then requested a series of special temporary authorities to remain silent. It was owned by JER Licenses and was granted at the same time as KXZT/107.9 (Newell), which is not yet on the air and is being sold to Bad Lands Broadcasting. (8/30/2016)

The FCC has granted the following FM translator moves under the second AM revitalization filing window:

You can follow applications for the Upper Midwest as they come in at the 2016 AM Revitalization Translators, Round 2 page. (8/28/2016)

Midwest Communications is picking up an additional FM station in Duluth and several others in northeastern Minnesota in a deal that splits apart the Red Rock Radio group in the Twin Ports.

The deal, reported by RadioInsight, includes Classic Rocker KQDS-FM/94.9 (Duluth), KQDS-FM rebroadcasters KAOD/106.7 (Babbitt) and WXXZ/95.3 (Grand Marais), Iron Range Adult Contemporary outlet WEVE/97.9 (Eveleth), Iron Range Country outlet KGPZ/96.1 (Coleraine), and three WEVE translators on the Iron Range.

Midwest currently owns three AM stations and three FM stations in the Twin Ports, and two AM stations and four FM stations on the Iron Range. (See the Minnesota Radio Markets page for complete lists.) To comply with ownership caps, Midwest may have to divest a station in the Duluth market, where its smallest outlet is WDUL/970 (Superior-Duluth).

Not included in the deal are three other Red Rock stations in Duluth, WEVE's longtime AM counterpart, or KQDS-FM rebroadcasters in Deer River and Pillager-Brainerd. After this deal and the sale of its five stations in northwestern Wisconsin earlier this year, Red Rock has 14 remaining radio stations in northeastern and north-central Minnesota. Red Rock is a sister company to Red River Broadcast Co., which owns Duluth FOX affiliate KQDS-TV/21 as well as TV stations in the Fargo and Sioux Falls markets. Myron Kunin, whose family owns controlling interest in the companies, died in 2013. (8/23/2016)

ABC has returned to DirecTV in North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota, but without newscasts from Grand Forks. WDAY-TV/6 (Fargo) reports that it and sister Forum Communications Co. station KBMY/17 (Bismarck) returned to DirecTV on Aug. 18 after a two-and-a-half month outage. However, DirecTV is not carrying Forum's WDAZ/8 (Devils Lake-Grand Forks), which carries the only newscasts for the Grand Forks area. Federal rules do not require DirecTV to carry both WDAY and WDAZ since Grand Forks is considered to be part of the Fargo market. The station's news story says that it will be distributing free antennas to customers in the Grand Forks area and points out that DISH Network and cable companies still carry WDAZ. (8/23/2016)

In its first week of granting FM translator moves under the second AM revitalization filing window, the FCC has granted about half of the applications filed in the Upper Midwest. They include:

You can follow applications for the Upper Midwest as they come in at the 2016 AM Revitalization Translators, Round 2 page. (8/17, 8/19, and 8/21/2016; corrected KPRM frequency 8/23)

The FCC has dealt Gray TV a blow in the Fargo market, saying Gray did not retain the rights to use cable channel 4 when it sold the license associated with that channel number. Gray sold the former KXJB-TV/4.1 (Valley City-Fargo) to comply with ownership caps but retained its longtime "KX4" CBS affiliation by moving it to a subchannel of KVLY-TV/11.1 (Fargo). Channel 4.1 is now KRDK-TV and its new owner, Ravi Kapur's Major Market Broadcasting, sought carriage on Cable One channel 4. Cable One initially rejected KRDK's must-carry request, saying it already had a contract with Gray to carry "KX4" on that channel. Gray contended that KRDK's new owner had agreed not to seek carriage on cable channel 4, a claim which KRDK denied and which the FCC's Media Bureau has now rejected as an "unsubstantiated and self-serving argument." It ordered Cable One to begin carrying KRDK on channel 4, or a channel mutually agreed upon by KRDK and Cable One, within 45 days. The FCC also recently denied Gray's request to move KRDK's virtual channel to 38.1 so that KVLY could use both virtual channels 4.1 and 11.1. KRDK carries Cozi TV and local sports on channel 4.1. (8/15/2016)

New low-power FM station WFNU-LP/94.1 (St. Paul) is on the air as "Frogtown Community Radio." The 100-Watt station was initially supposed to share time with the Center for Hmong Arts & Talent (CHAT) on the frequency, but CHAT returned its construction permit after the two groups partnered together. WFNU-LP's studio is at CHAT's facility. It is the fifth LPFM station to sign on in the Twin Cities metro area, with several more to come -- see the updated Twin Cities Class D/LPFM's page for a complete list. (8/14/2016)

Heritage Rocker KRNA/94.1 (Iowa City-Cedar Rapids) has flipped to "Classic Rock that Really Rocks," ending what the station's Jaymz Larson calls a "long walk of shame" in a video. The station has gone through Alternative and Active Rock playlists in recent years. The Classic Rock format puts KRNA, owned by Townsquare Media, in direct competition with iHeartMedia's "100.7 The Fox" (KKRQ Iowa City-Cedar Rapids). Fans of newer Rock music will likely move over to NRG Media's "Rock 108" (KFMW/107.9 Waterloo-Cedar Rapids). (8/12/2016)

After a year and a half as Classic Rocker "Big FM," Corus Media's CJKR-FM/97.5 (Winnipeg) has reverted to its former "Power 97" moniker with a mainstream Rock format. Numeris 12+ ratings show that while "Big FM" had seen some growth since its early 2015 launch, it never came close to Rogers Classic Rocker CITI-FM/92.1 -- which actually saw its ratings jump after CJKR changed format. "Power 97" will announce its new airstaff next month. (8/12/2016)

KRDK-TV (Valley City-Fargo) has made changes to its channel lineup, dropping from ten to eight channels as it upgrades its primary channel 4.1 to HD. The station said in a post on its Facebook page that in order to add the HD channel, it had to drop Weigel Broadcasting's H&I, Decades, and Movies! channels. A subsequent post said the decision to drop the Weigel channels was not KRDK's alone. The HD channel carries Cozi TV and local high school sports. KRDK also added Bounce TV as part of the switch. (8/7/2016)

Forum Communications ABC affiliate WDAY-TV (Fargo) is planning a new 9 p.m. newscast to air on its subchannels. Promos running on the station say the new newscast will air on the WDAY'Z XTRA and Justice Network subchannels beginning August 29, which are seen on WDAY-TV as well as WDAZ (Devils Lake-Grand Forks), KBMY (Bismarck), and KMCY (Minot). The newscast launch will come around the same time that WDAY-DT2 and WDAZ-DT2 lose their CW affiliation, which is moving to a subchannel of Gray TV's future low-power station, KXJB-LD/30 (Horace-Fargo). (8/7/2016)

A company managed by Nebraska broadcaster Mike Flood is buying the construction permit for a new low-power TV station in Sioux City. Contigo Communications, LLC is buying K14NV-D from Puerto Rico-based Telecinco for $50,000. Flood operates several LPTV stations under the "NewsChannel Nebraska" name as well as several radio groups. (8/7/2016)

A half-dozen Upper Midwest FM translator sales recently filed for FCC approval are related to the AM revitalization translator filing opportunity, which is now in its second window:

Family Stations is selling K208FZ (Amana, IA) to Vision Communications for $35,000. The buyer intends to move the translator to Kansas.

Educational Media Foundation is selling K293CG (Gilbert-Ames, IA) to Midwest Communications for $40,000. The buyer has applied to move the translator to Sioux Falls to relay KELO/1320 (Sioux Falls).

E-String Wireless, Ltd. is selling K247CA (Iowa City) to NRG Media for $33,000. The buyer has applied to move the translator to Omaha to relay KMMQ/1020 (Plattsmouth-Omaha).

Horizon Christian Fellowship is selling K272FH (Rapid City) to Prairie Winds Broadcasting for $40,000. The buyer has applied to move the translator to Aberdeen to relay KSDN/930 (Aberdeen).

Educational Media Foundation is selling W270CT (Black River Falls, WI) to the Milwaukee Radio Alliance, LLC for $32,500. The buyer has applied to move the translator to Franklin-Racine to relay WZTI/1290 (Greenfield-Milwaukee), which has an existing FM translator in Milwaukee.

WRVM, Inc. is selling W263BS (Rhinelander, WI) to Salem Media for $50,000. The buyer has applied to move the translator to suburban Minneapolis to relay WWTC/1280 (Minneapolis). (8/4/2016)

The "My9" subchannel in the Duluth-Superior market is no longer available on DISH Network after Quincy Media's channel changes this week. "My9" moved from KBJR-DT2/6.2 to KBJR-DT3/6.3 to make way for the new "CBS 3" on 6.2 as part of channel changes that will allow Quincy to continue selling ads on both KBJR's primary NBC channel and the CBS subchannel (see post from July 19 for background). DISH had previously carried KBJR-DT2 on channel 9; DISH and other providers began carrying KBJR-DT2 on channel 3 instead of KDLH/3.1 as part of Quincy's channel changes. KDLH's main channel, now a CW affiliate owned by SagamoreHill Broadcasting, is now carried on DISH channel 11. There is no longer a channel 9 on DISH's lineup in the market. (DirecTV had never carried the "My9" channel.) (8/3/2016)

"Iron Country" will launch Wednesday, Aug. 3, on Big Radio's W270CW/101.9 (Beloit) and WGEZ/1490 (Beloit). The Classic Country format will feature hits from the 1970's to early 2000's and 101.9 will be the first commercial FM signal specifically targetting Beloit. "Big Red," who formerly hosted a Sunday morning Classic Country show on Bliss Communications' WJVL/99.9 (Janesville), will host mornings on "Iron Country." W270CW was moved to Beloit under the FCC's AM revitalization window.

The Oldies format previously heard on WGEZ will replace ESPN Radio on sister station WBEL/1380 (South Beloit, IL), though "The Big 1380" will continue to carry local talk programming during the daytime hours. The stations are among ten along the stateline operated by Ben Thompson of Beloit and his father, Scott Thompson of Monroe. (8/2/2016)

Saga Communications has dropped Soft Oldies "Legend 104.5" in favor of "Talk 104.5" in Des Moines. The format, consisting of syndicated talkers including Laura Ingraham and Clark Howard, is heard on K283CC/104.5 (Des Moines) and the HD2 signal of KAZR/103.3 (Pella-Des Moines). FM Talk is not a novelty in the market, where Cumulus Media's KWQW/98.3 (Boone-Des Moines) had carried Talk for a decade until dropping it for Classic Hip-Hop and R&B last year. (8/1/2016)

The rush is on for the last available FM frequencies in the Twin Cities. One commercial broadcaster has reached an agreement with the would-be operator of a low-power FM station to give up its permit, while two other broadcasters are competing for a different frequency.

Greg Borgen's Spanish-language WREY/630 (St. Paul) has applied to operate a translator on 94.9, moving it in from southern Minnesota under the second FCC AM revitalization window. It would transmit from the Wells Fargo Center in downtown St. Paul, providing a good signal to the east metro. WREY has reached an agreement with the Victoria Theater Project to give up the construction permit for WVIC-LP/94.9 (St. Paul). In exchange, WREY sister station WDGY/740 (Hudson-St. Paul) would give the Victoria Theater Project a two-hour program on Sunday mornings and 18 announcements per week for one year. WREY is already rebroadcast on K288GR/105.5 (Bayport-Hudson), which is not directly tied to WREY's license since it was not obtained using a waiver.

Meanwhile, the University of Northwestern-St. Paul's KTIS/900 (Minneapolis) and Salem Media's WWTC/1280 (Minneapolis) both filed applications for translators on 107.5 on the first day of the second revitalization filing window. KTIS proposes using 180 Watts directional from the IDS Center in Minneapolis, while WWTC proposes using 250 Watts directional from its tower site in St. Louis Park. KTIS carries the non-commercial "Faith Radio" while WWTC carries Conservative Talk. KTIS is already heard on the Educational Media Foundation's K214DF/90.7 (Golden Valley-Minneapolis), but K214DF could be switched to a different station because it was not obtained using a waiver. (8/1/2016)

The second filing window allowing FM translators to be moved up to 250 miles to relay AM stations has opened, expanding the opportunity to include all AM stations. The initial filing window that closed Thursday, July 28, was only open to class C and D AM stations, which generally have weaker nighttime signals. 53 applications were filed in the Upper Midwest during the first window; all but three last-minute applications have been granted and at least 23 of the translators are now on the air. (See a list on the 2016 AM Revitalization Translators, Round 1 page.)

The first applications of the second window were filed Friday, July 29, and became publicly available on Monday. They include:

You can follow applications for the Upper Midwest as they come in at the 2016 AM Revitalization Translators, Round 2 page. (8/1/2016)

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