After a 90-day reprieve, KBEK/95.5 (Mora) will stay on the air until the end of the year. The station had earlier announced plans to go silent on Friday (Sept. 30) due to economic reasons, but owner Colleen McKinney took to the airwaves Friday afternoon to announce the extension. McKinney said she hoped the extension would allow a buyer to come forward.
The community-oriented station has been on the air since 1995 with hourly local newscasts and a mix of Pop and Rock hits from the `50s through today. McKinney has kept the station going since her husband and station founder John Godfrey died of cancer in 2004. KBEK's 25kW signal is strong in Cambridge, Princeton, Milaca, Pine City, and North Branch. Although KBEK has just one AM-FM combo as a competitor for advertisers, it competes with Twin Cities signals for listeners. Its transmitter is less than a mile from the boundary of the Minneapolis market but other stations on 95.3 and 95.5 prevent the vast majority of the metro from receiving the station. (9/30/2011)
In an unusual license renewal snafu, the FCC has decided to give St. Mary's University of Minnesota in Winona its second frequency back. St. Mary's operates 4-Watt KSMR/92.5 from its campus and rebroadcasts its programming on the larger signal of 104-Watt translator K232CZ/94.3, but 94.3's license expired in 2005 and the FCC says St. Mary's left the translator on until 2010 without authority. After being informed that K232CZ's licensed had expired, St. Mary's requested renewal, stating that a previous manager thought the license renewal for KSMR also covered K232CZ. The FCC has now renewed K232CZ's license and proposed a $500 fine against St. Mary's. (9/26/2011)
The proposed sale of KFNL/92.7 (Kindred-Fargo) to a commercial broadcaster is drawing opposition from a competitor. Monterey Licenses, LLC, a subsidiary of Triad Broadcasting which owns five stations based in Fargo, has filed a petition to deny Mediactive, LLC's purchase of KFNL from Northwestern College for $250,000. The text of the petition to deny is not available online. Mediactive is headed by Robert Ingstad; James Ingstad's Radio Fargo-Moorhead owns six other stations in the market. 92.7 had been part of the Radio Fargo-Moorhead group when it was owned by Clear Channel, but a change in FCC ownership rules forced the station to be divested when Clear Channel decided to exit the market. KFNL has run a non-commercial Inspirational Christian format since Northwestern College took over operations. (9/24/2011)
Minnesota Public Radio has signed on translator K220JP/91.9 (Minneapolis) relaying Classical MPR flagship KSJN/99.5 (Minneapolis). K220JP transmits with 13 Watts from the Kenwood water tower using a directional antenna pointed at Lake of the Isles. MPR hasn't publicly said why it put the translator on the air, but the area has had reception problems since 99.5 and the market's other major FM stations moved to Shoreview a couple of decades ago, putting downtown Minneapolis skyscrapers in the way of line-of-sight reception from Kenwood. (9/23/2011)
"K-Love" station KSFS/90.1 (Sioux Falls) has upgraded from 2.5kW to 18kW, extending its main coverage area farther out of town. The upgrade happened Thursday afternoon. The move included an antenna height change from 18m to 34m and an upgrade in class from A to C3. (9/22/2011)
There's a change in plans for the move of four FM translators to the IDS Center to relay Clear Channel stations. KNXR/97.5 (Rochester) informally objected to an application to move a translator on 97.7 to IDS, and the translator's owner, Educational Media Foundation, is now asking the FCC to dismiss the 97.7 application. Instead, EMF is applying to move W225AP/92.9 from St. Paul to IDS with 99 Watts and lists Clear Channel's KFXN-FM/100.3 as the station to be rebroadcast. The other pending applications are for translators on 93.3, 99.9, and 102.5, and the paperwork stated plans to carry Clear Channel stations. Clear Channel already relays KFXN-FM-HD2 (News/Talk) on translator K278BP/103.5, which it bought from EMF last year. (9/20/2011)
Digital subchannel Live Well Network is getting its first affiliates in the Upper Midwest. Journal Broadcasting recently announced that WTMJ-TV/4 (Milwaukee) will begin carrying Live Well on 4.3 on Oct. 1, and Broadcasting & Cable reports that Journal's KMTV/3 (Omaha) will also begin carrying the network the same day. Live Well displaces The Cool TV in both markets. (9/20/2011)
WFRV/5 (Green Bay) anchor Tammy Elliot announced this week that she's leaving the station at the end of the month. Elliot joined the station as an intern in 1990 and worked her way up to anchor. She left for a job in Milwaukee in 2002 but returned in 2006 for family reasons. Now, she's leaving the station to spend more time with her children. Elliot anchors the 5:00 news and co-anchors the 10:00 news with Tom Zalaski; the station says Zalaski will co-anchor the station's 5:00, 6:00, and 10:00 news with Erin Davisson after Elliot's departure. (9/20/2011)
The little guy is buying out the big guy in Worthington, where Absolute Communications, LLC is buying Three Eagles' three radio stations for $2.2 million. Absolute Communications owns "US104" (KUSQ/104.3 Sibley, IA-Worthington) and will take over Three Eagles' KWOA/730, KITN/93.5, and KWOA-FM/95.1 (Worthington). KUSQ launched just a few years ago with a rimshot signal and runs a Country format, while Three Eagles' more-established stations carry News/Talk, Adult Contemporary, and Classic Hits. Absolute Communications is managed by John Daniels of Hinton, IA, and also owns two stations in Jamestown, ND (KSJB/KSJZ). (9/19/2011)
Eleanor Mondale Poling, radio and TV host and daughter of former Vice President Walter Mondale, died of cancer Saturday. Mondale's resume included work as an entertainment reporter for WCCO-TV/4, E! Entertainment Television and other national networks, as well as radio work at WLOL/99.5 in the early 1990's and WCCO/830 more recently. Mondale Poling was 51. More coverage is available from the New York Times, Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, MinnPost, WCCO, KSTP, KMSP, and KARE. (9/18/2011)
A translator that began its life in Brainerd has applied for what could be the last stop on a chain-style move to St. Cloud. Radio Assist Ministry's W274BL/102.7 is still licensed to Brainerd but has a transmitter site near Rice after several moves. Now, it's applied to move to the KNSI/1450 tower in St. Cloud on 103.3 with 250 Watts and states it would relay KNSI.
However, it's not clear if the move can be completed in light of a recent FCC decision calling translator "hops" an abuse of process. The practice came about because the FCC is not currently accepting major change applications for translators, meaning translators can only make minor changes - those in which the new protected coverage area overlaps with the old one. After years of approving one move after another for numerous translators, the FCC now says the process is an abuse because it attempts to "evade" or "subvert" the current prohibition on major changes. Ironically, the FCC says applicants that have not previously applied for chain-style moves can now seek a waiver to make a move that would not otherwise be allowed under the minor-change rules. Since the decision was announced only a few weeks ago, it's not yet clear what impact this will have on pending moves. Besides the Brainerd/St. Cloud case, it appears translators were poised to head into the Twin Cities, Rochester, and Milwaukee areas. Other moves have already been completed to Des Moines and Rice Lake, WI. (9/18/2011)
Three Angels Broadcasting Network has converted its Lincoln low-power station to digital. What had been K27GX is now K26JQ-D. 3ABN-owned stations typically carry 3ABN, Prophecy Channel, 3ABN Latino, 3ABN Radio, and Radio 74 Internationale. (9/18/2011)
PLANS FOR NEXT FM AUCTION:
Thirteen new Upper Midwest FM stations are poised to be included in the FCC's next auction. Auction No. 91 is tentatively set to begin March 27, 2012.
More details are available here. Meanwhile, the FCC is considering deleting twenty allotments that have gone unsold in two or more auctions. These include 96.7 Bosobel, 96.3 Owen, and 106.9 Tigerton in Wisconsin. (9/13/2011)
Wisconsin Public Radio formally signed on new station WUWS/90.9 (Ashland) at Noon Monday. The 24.5kW/71m station carries WPR's Ideas Network and HD2 Classical service, replacing 26-Watt translator W275AF/102.9. WUWS cost about $345,000 to build, 75 percent of which was covered by a federal grant. WPR has been working for fifteen years to improve its signal in the Chequamegon Bay area and is also in the process of building a new station on 104.7 licensed to Washburn, which will replace another WPR translator in Ashland. WPR says 102.9 is now silent. It's due to be bumped off the air by Northland College's new station but has a construction permit to move to 102.3. (9/12/2011)
The FCC has finalized its approval of a plan to allow a full-power TV station to move its transmitter from Dodge County to Milwaukee. Pappas Telecasting's WWAZ-TV was originally slated to broadcast on channel 44 from a tower near Mayville but will instead broadcast on channel 5 from Milwaukee. The company had said the move is needed because the original WWAZ tower cannot support any more antennas. ABC's WLS-TV/7 (Chicago) supported WWAZ's move because it would free up channel 44 for WLS to use, allowing it to escape VHF digital reception problems.
WDJT, Inc. opposed the move, saying it would be possible for WWAZ to use its existing tower if it removed the old analog antenna or made other changes. It also argued that making way for WLS was not a valid reason to allow WWAZ to move. The FCC disagreed and denied WDJT's petition for reconsideration last week. The commission said it is important to address WLS' VHF reception problems but did not note that WWAZ could experience the same issue.
The commission has not yet formally granted WWAZ's application, which calls for 25kW/354m on channel 5 from the WMVS tower. WWAZ will remain licensed in Fond du Lac, which is in the Green Bay-Appleton market, but could possibly ask to be reassigned to the Milwaukee market and seek carriage on Milwaukee cable and satellite systems.
The original construction permit for WWAZ, first known as WMMF, was issued in 1988 but the station did not sign on until thirteen years later. It carried FamilyNet until going silent in 2009. (9/12/2011)
Community Broadcasting is buying translator K300BM/107.9 (North Platte) from Radio Assist Ministry for $20,000. The new owners plan to relay Bott Radio Network station KCVN/104.5 (Cozad) on K300BM. (9/12/2011)
Classic TV network "Me-TV" is expanding its coverage in the Upper Midwest. It recently replaced the AccuWeather Channel on KCCI/8.2 (Des Moines) and KETV/7.2 (Omaha), and Broadcasting & Cable reported that KSTP/KSTC (St. Paul) and WGBA (Green Bay) have signed deals to carry the network. It also has affiliates in the Milwaukee, Madison, Wausau, Rochester, and Cedar Rapids-Waterloo markets. (9/12/2011)
WGBW/1590 (Two Rivers) is expected to begin permanently broadcasting from its new Denmark facility on Monday at 6:30 a.m., putting the station in the Green Bay market. The station will also be on the air Sunday for testing. It upgraded its daytime power from 1kW to 10kW with the move, switching from nondirectional to directional. Nighttime power is 50 Watts directional, with an application to increase to 500 Watts. WGBW will continue carrying Citadel's "True Oldies Channel." (9/10/2011)
Cumulus Media has flipped KRQN/107.1 (Vinton-Cedar Rapids) from Classic Hits/Oldies to Contemporary Hits at "i107-1." The change came Friday afternoon, Sept. 9. The new format targets locally-owned "Z102.9" (KZIA), though Cedar Rapids listeners are in the unique situation of also being able to hear Cumulus' CHR stations from the Davenport and Waterloo markets (quite a change from the mid-1990's when no CHR stations were audible in the city!) KRQN's rimshot signal isn't much stronger in Cedar Rapids than its out-of-town sisters. 107.1, owned by George S. Flinn, had originally signed on as KROJ in 2005 with Classic Country and switched to Oldies when Cumulus took over operations through a time brokerage agreement the following year. (9/9/2011)
Translator W228BQ/93.5 (Rice Lake) is now on the air relaying WGMO-HD3/95.3 (Spooner) as "Rice Lake's Oldies Station." Zoe Communications moved the translator in from Ladysmith and it now uses 38 Watts from a tower northwest of Rice Lake. Another Zoe translator, W234BG/94.7 (Chetek), broadcasts from the same tower carrying an Adult Contemporary format from WGMO-HD2. Rice Lake hasn't had a full-fledged Oldies station since WMYD/1090 switched to Classic Country in the early 1990's. (9/9/2011)
Minnesota did not have any Native American radio stations until a few months ago, and now another two sign-ons this week bring the total to four. WGZS/89.1 (Cloquet), on the Fond du Lac Reservation, is using a limited broadcast schedule of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays for now. WGZS uses 50kW/135m (class C2) from a tower on the north end of the reservation near Brookston. The station's main coverage area theoretically includes Duluth, though the city's intermodulation problem may make reception difficult on portable radios. The station is easily listenable on car radios in Duluth.
Meanwhile, the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe began testing KOJB/90.1 (Cass Lake) on Thursday and expects to begin live programming in several weeks. KOJB uses 18kW/140m (class C2) from Bena, with possible fringe coverage of Bemidji and Grand Rapids.
Native American stations KBFT/89.9 (Nett Lake) and KKWE/89.9 (White Earth) also recently signed on, with KNKN/88.1 (Naytahwaush) expected to sign on this fall. (9/8/2011)
VHF DIGITAL TV UPGRADES:
New Minnesota Public Radio station WIRC/89.3 (Ely) will sign on Sept. 15, according to an announcement running on other MPR stations in the region. WIRC will replace translator W269AC/101.7 in carrying MPR's News network. The new station will also bump existing Classical MPR translator K208CR/89.5 off the air, but the programming could presumably move to 101.7. WIRC will use 18.5kW/116m, extending MPR's coverage on the Vermilion Range and in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. (9/7/2011)
The Star Tribune reports the expected end has come for the Sports format at KFXN/690 (Minneapolis), which has changed to Hmong programming following Clear Channel's donation of the station to the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council. "The Score" lineup moved to the HD2 channel of KQQL/107.9 (Anoka-Minneapolis) and the station's website redirects to thescore1035.com, suggesting that Clear Channel ultimately intends to carry the format on translator K278BP/103.5. 103.5 is currently relaying the News/Talk format of KTCN/1130 (via KFXN-FM-HD2), which had originally been slated for K273BH/102.5 until informal objections delayed plans to upgrade that translator to a full 250 Watts.
Meanwhile, 690's new format competes directly with Peter Xiong's KPNP/1600 (Watertown). Though 690 is licensed for just 500 Watts day and 4 Watts night from a directional array in New Hope, it has better daytime coverage of the metro than KPNP, which uses 5kW in a northerly-directional pattern from a site about 25 miles west of Minneapolis. 690 had carried "The Score" for thirteen years but may be better known for the KTCR Country format that originally aired on the facility decades ago. (9/6/2011)
Woodward Communications' WXMM/92.9 (Chilton-Appleton) signed on as "92.9 Country" just in time for the Labor Day weekend. The new station broadcasts with 6kW/95m from a tower near Stockbridge, delivering a strong signal to Appleton and Oshkosh. WXMM competes primarily with Midwest Communications' "Y100" (WNCY/100.3 Neenah-Green Bay). Woodward owns six other stations in the region. It's been a decades-long process for that frequency to become active: the FCC first issued a construction permit to another company in the early 1990's, but it was never built. Then four groups applied for the frequency in 1996, but they couldn't reach a settlement and the applications sat dormant until the FCC finally put the frequency up for auction last year. Metro North Communications won the CP and sold it to Woodward for $1.2 million. (9/5/2011)
Red Rock Radio's KFGI/101.5 (Crosby-Brainerd) has switched from Classic Rock to Variety Hits as "Sam FM." The switch happened at 6 p.m. Sept. 1. The previous "KQ101.5" Classic Rock format had originated at co-owned KQDS-FM/94.9 (Duluth), though it was not a full simulcast of KQDS. This is the 101.5's fourth format change in the last decade, having gone from Country to Oldies in 2002 an then back to Country in 2004 after an ownership change, and then to Classic Rock in 2007. (9/2/2011)
KCRG-TV (Cedar Rapids) has added locally-originated "WxNow" on 9.3. It's the only broadcast weather channel in the market and is also carried on digital cable. Weather forecasts had been part of the original version of "Local 9.2," which has moved towards an Independent format including live sports broadcasts, a sports-talk show, repeats of KCRG newscasts, and syndicated programming including "Live with Regis & Kelly," "Everybody Loves Raymond," and "Two and a Half Men." KCRG-TV/9.1 is an ABC affiliate. (9/2/2011)
Another Educational Media Foundation translator is facing a challenge as it applies to upgrade its Twin Cities metro coverage. K273BH/102.5 (Fridley) already broadcasts from the IDS Center in Minneapolis with 41 Watts and has applied to upgrade to 250 Watts. Clear Channel later confirmed plans to rebroadcast one of its stations (KFXN-FM-HD2) on the translator. FCC records say Lake Broadcasting has now filed an informal objection to the application. It's not yet clear who "Lake Broadcasting" is, but a similarly-named company - Lakeland Broadcasting - owns KQIC/102.5 (Willmar), which has a fringe signal that can be heard on car radios in the west metro. FCC rules say a translator must leave the air if listeners complain of interference to a fully-licensed station.
Another EMF translator, K249ED/97.7 (Albertville), already faces opposition from the owner of KNXR/97.5 (Rochester) for its application to move its transmitter from Maple Grove to IDS. Another two suburban EMF translators, on 93.3 and 99.9, have applied to move to IDS and specified Clear Channel stations to be rebroadcast. If all of the moves are successful, Clear Channel would have five translators in Minneapolis in addition to its five full-power FM signals. (9/1/2011)
The FCC has approved a move by Twin Cities-area translator W239AM/95.7 (Hudson, WI). The newly-issued construction permit calls for W239AM to move to 96.7 and use a transmitter site in a residential neighborhood of Woodbury, MN, though the translator would remain licensed to Hudson. The translator is owned by William Cornwall and relays KNXR/97.5 (Rochester). W239AM is slated to be displaced from its current frequency by WDMO/95.9 (Baldwin), which is moving from Durand. The translator had originally applied to move to 97.9, prompting an informal objection from Jeff Sibert, who said the move would eliminate one of the last channels potentially available for low-power FM in the metro. (9/1/2011)
TV MARKET RANKINGS:
The Nielsen Media TV market rankings for the 2011-2012 season show no change in rank for about half of the markets in the Upper Midwest. Bismarck-Minot is seeing one of the most dramatic changes in the nation, moving up five slots to #152 after adding nearly 7,000 TV households. Meanwhile, Fargo is up three positions, Green Bay and Sioux City are up two, and Milwaukee, Des Moines, Lincoln, and Quincy are each moving up one slot. Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Sioux Falls, and Marquette are each moving down one position. Other Upper Midwest markets, including Minneapolis and Milwaukee, are not moving. About half of Upper Midwest markets saw a drop in the number of TV households as the figure dropped nationwide. The complete list is here. (9/1/2011)
WRHN/100.1 (Rhinelander) switched from Hot Adult Contemporary to Variety Hits as "Sam FM" at Midnight on the morning of Sept. 1. Both the old and new format come from Dial Global. The 100kW station is owned by NRG Media. (9/1/2011)
A one-week change in the musical selection in a weekly fifteen-minute religious program on a low-power Thunder Bay-area radio station is of great concern to Canadian regulators. CFQK-FM/104.5 (Kaministiqua), which is rebroadcast on CKED-FM/103.5 (Shuniah Township) and carries a Country format, is required to broadcast a certain amount of Canadian Special Interest Music. It normally fulfills this obligation during a religious program produced by a Finnish church which airs on Sunday morning. However, the CRTC found that a program that aired in February 2010 did not contain any musical selections from the Canadian Special Interest Music category. CFQK responded by changing the opening music of the program with a selection from the category to ensure compliance. In response to the one instance of non-compliance, the CRTC renewed CFQK's license for six years, shorter than it would have normally done. The complete saga can be read here. (9/1/2011)
The CRTC has renewed the license for CJIV-FM/97.3 (Dryden) for a shorter two-year term amid concerns about the station's programming and compliance with other regulations. CJIV, a low-power station, is owned by Way of Life Broadcasing carries a Christian format. Programming-wise, the commission is concerned that CJIV is still not carrying enough local programming, specifically local news. The commission is also concerned with the station's failure to file requested information and to provide a complete record of the matter broadcast when requested. CJIV has taken steps to rectify the CRTC's conerns since the last license hearing, and the CRTC encouraged the station to continue to increase the amount of Canadian programming it carries. (9/1/2011)
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