The FCC has announced a freeze on all filings for new low-power TV stations or major changes to existing LPTV stations, effective immediately. It had resumed accepting LPTV applications for rural areas in August 2009, but now says a freeze is needed because of proposals to reallocate some of the TV spectrum for other uses. Hundreds of applications for new LPTV stations were filed in the Upper Midwest when the window was open, mostly from companies which appear interested in using the stations for datacasting. A freeze was already in effect for new LPTV stations within 75 miles of the largest cities in the 100 largest TV markets, including Minneapolis, Chicago, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Madison, Davenport, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Omaha, and Kansas City. (10/27/2010)
NBC affiliate KWQC/6.1 (Davenport) launched the Quad Cities' first HD newscasts on Wednesday (Oct. 27). ABC affiliate WQAD/8.1 (Moline) is expected to go HD in the near future. Meanwhile, KLJB (Davenport) is now simulcasting ThisTV on channel 18.3, which was already seen on sister station KGCW/26.2 (Burlington). (10/27/2010)
KCWV/27 (Duluth) has dropped "My Family TV" and is now carrying other Christian programming. The station, owned by George Flinn III, had carried "My Family TV" since signing on late last year. (10/27/2010)
All three news-producing TV stations in Madison are now running their local newscasts in HD. ABC affiliate WKOW/27 made the switch on Tuesday (Oct. 26), a few weeks after NBC 15 (WMTV) upgraded to HD. CBS affiliate WISC/3's local news has been in HD for two years.
Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, ABC affiliate WISN-TV/12 has switched to 16:9 widescreen newscasts. NBC affiliate WTMJ-TV/4 and FOX 6 (WITI) began HD newscasts last year. (10/27/2010)
Sinclair Broadcasting's WCGV (Milwaukee) has added The Country Network on channel 24.2. (10/27/2010)
KMTY/97.7 (Holdrege) has applied to move into the Kearney market. The station would change its community of license to Gibbon and transmit from south of Kearney with 100kW/125m (class C1), a facility which would still deliver a rimshot signal to Holdrege. KMTY is owned by Armada Media, which owns no other stations in Kearney, and currently carries a Variety Hits format as "Jack FM." To make way for the change, KMTY is asking the FCC to downgrade the allotment of KRGY/97.3 (Auburn-Grand Island) from class C1 to C2; KRGY once had a construction permit to upgrade to C1 facilities but never built it, remaining C2. (10/26/2010)
Christian Hits "Pulse 99.5" (KPUL Winterset-Des Moines) is hoping to upgrade its signal to the capital city as part of a potential move to 101.7. As previously reported, KPUL would be forced to move to 101.7 as part of a proposal by KTIA-FM/99.3 (Boone) to change its community of license to Johnston and move its transmitter to Saylorville. (The moves would also bump KFMG-LP/99.1, which informally objected to the plan, and KUNI translator K269EJ/101.7, which has already applied to move to 97.7.) As part of the frequency change, KPUL is also hoping to move its transmitter 4-6 miles closer to Des Moines. The station is hoping to raise $40,000 by the end of the year to make the plan a reality, though FCC approval is still needed. (10/25/2010)
Just weeks after adding TheCoolTV on channel 23.2, Sinclair Broadcasting's WUCW (Minneapolis) has added The Country Network on 23.3. The Country Network is also expected to launch on Sinclair stations in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Madison, and Milwaukee in the coming months. (10/25/2010)
Conservative talk host Scott Hennen is returning to "The Flag" (WZFG/1100 Dilworth, MN-Fargo). Hennen helped build the station and hosted the 8-11 a.m. slot until parting ways with his three business partners last month. Now, he'll host 2-5 p.m. as a syndicated host, displacing Sean Hannity. It's not immediately clear whether Hannity is being cancelled or moved to another time slot. (10/22/2010)
Hockey fans might be surprised where they're seeing games this season: public TV. This season the Minnesota Channel began simulcasting Bemidji State University men's ice hockey home hockey games produced by Lakeland Public Television (KAWE/9 Bemidji). The Minnesota Channel is carried as a subchannel by every PBS station in Minnesota and North Dakota and is on most digital cable systems in Minnesota. In addition, KAWE moved the broadcasts this season to its primary channel, which is seen across the Minneapolis-St. Paul market on DirecTV and DISH Network, and PBS North (WDSE/8 Duluth and WRPT/31 Hibbing) will simulcast this Saturday night's game against UMD on its primary channel. (10/21/2010)
It appears Journal Broadcasting's NBC 26 (WGBA Green Bay) is about to get back into the morning show business. As first reported by Warren Gerds of the Green Bay Press Gazette, the station has posted jobs for three morning positions, including anchor/producer, weather forecaster/host, and commercial producer. The station cancelled its previous morning show in 2008 and initially simulcasted the news from sister station WTMJ-TV/4 (Milwaukee) before dropping the simulcast for repeats of WGBA's 10 p.m. newscast. (10/19/2010)
MINNESOTA/IOWA/MICHIGAN/NORTH DAKOTA/SOUTH DAKOTA:
In what may be a radio first, Classical Minnesota Public Radio plans to broadcast at least 85 hours of Christmas music weekly from Nov. 29 to Dec. 26. Classical MPR managing director Brian Newhouse said the holiday programming will air from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays and on some hours of the weekend, yet to be determined. "This is going to be fun, classy and beautiful," Newhouse said in a press release. "We want to give our listeners the best music inspired by the holidays, music from throughout the ages, creating a companion for them as they celebrate the season." Programming will include choral, instrumental, solo vocal and orchestral arrangements. Non-holiday Classical music will continue on the HD2 signal of KSJN/99.5 (Minneapolis) and a web stream at classicalmpr.org. (10/18/2010)
Quincy Newspapers NBC affiliate KWWL/7 (Waterloo) has applied to add a translator in Dubuque. It would broadcast on channel 7, synchronized with the primary KWWL broadcast, using 300 Watts at 185 meters from a tower southeast of town, covering Dubuque with a directional antenna pattern. KWWL states the translator is needed to reach people who could receive its analog signal but cannot receive its digital signal. Iowa Public Television has also applied for a translator in Dubuque, on channel 18 with 15kW. (10/17/2010)
Quincy Newspapers ABC and CW affiliate WXOW/19.1 (La Crosse) has applied to add a translator in Tomah. It would broadcast on channel 26 with 660 Watts at 129 meters from a tower north of Sparta, with a directional antenna pointed at Tomah. The station says the translator is needed to reach people who could receive its analog signal but cannot receive its digital signal. (10/17/2010)
Gray Television's NBC 15 (WMTV Madison) began broadcasting its local newscasts and some syndicated programming in high definition last week. The change coincided with an upgrade in the station's weather system. The upgrade comes two years after CBS affiliate WISC/3 (Madison) began local HD newscasts. (10/17/2010)
Journal Broadcasting CBS affiliate KMTV (Omaha) has added TheCoolTV on channel 3.2. (10/17/2010)
The CRTC has denied an application for two stations near Thunder Bay to increase power, saying the upgrades "would negatively affect the competitive balance in the market."
Dougall Media's CFQK-FM/104.5 (Kaministiquia) and CKED-FM/103.5 (Shuniah Township) simulcast the region's only Country format as "The Thunder" from a studio in Thunder Bay, though CFQK's 50-Watt signal has only fringe coverage of Thunder Bay and CKED's 10 Watts is only strong in the northern part of the city. Both stations sought increases to 250 Watts, changing from low-power to class A.
Canadian market caps generally allow only two fully-licensed FM stations per owner in a market the size of Thunder Bay, and Dougall also owns stations CKPR-FM/91.5 (100kW) and CJSD-FM/94.3 (93kW). Dougall also owns the market's only two TV stations and a weekly newspaper, competing with a daily newspaper and Acadia Broadcasting's two radio stations.
CRTC rules would allow one company to own three full-power Thunder Bay stations if the combination would not have a negative impact on the market. However, the CRTC noted Dougall's own statement that CFQK relies almost entirely on advertisers in the Thunder Bay area. The Commission theorized that the power increase would make CFQK more attractive to Thunder Bay advertisers and thus have a negative impact on other stations.
The CRTC also questioned Dougall's assertion that the CFQK's upgrade was needed to improve reception in buildings in Kaministiquia, noting that the station would still not have a sufficient signal strength to penetrate buildings in Kaministiquia after the upgrade. (10/15/2010)
5 Star Communications is buying KVTK/1570 and KVHT/106.3 (Vermillion) from Culhane Communications for $1.775 million. 5 Star Communications is owned by Jeff Fuller, who owns two radio stations in Cherokee, Iowa, with his wife. Culhane Communications is owned by Kevin and Margaret Culhane, who entered into non-competition agreements as part of the deal. Culhane Communications has a pending application for a new station on AM 690 licensed to Tyndall which the agreement says would be operated as a non-profit station. The agreement also calls for Kevin Culhane to continue play-by-play announcing for Wayne State College through the end of the basketball season. (10/15/2010)
The CRTC has granted William Gade's 5777152 Manitoba Ltd. permission to build a new station in Virden, a town of 3,110 located west of Brandon. It'll broadcast on 103.3 with 3.44kW/38m (class A), carrying a mix of Country, Pop, and Rock with 3-4 minute newscasts. The applicant requested the callsign CJVM-FM. Riding Mountain Broadcasting Ltd. objected to the proposal, saying the new station would threaten the viability of its two stations in Brandon, but the CRTC noted that the new station would not have a listenable signal in Brandon and found its impact on the market as a whole would be minimal. 5777152 Manitoba Ltd. also owns stations in Neepawa and Swan River and also has authorization to build a new station in Winnipeg Beach. (10/14/2010)
The FCC has cancelled the licenses of four analog TV translator stations: Red River Broadcast Co.'s K47IC (Milbank, SD), Independent Communications' K21EN (Yankton, SD), and Pappas Telecasting's WCWH-LP/40 (McCook, NE) and KBVZ-LP/42 (McCook). K47IC had relayed NBC affiliate KDLT/46 (Sioux Falls) but went silent earlier this year due to the South Shore tower collapse. K21EN had relayed FOX affiliate KTTW/7 (Sioux Falls). WCWH-LP and KBVZ-LP had relayed ABC affiliate KWNB/6 (Hayes Center) and FOX affiliate KTVG/17 (Grand Island) but went off the air when KWNB-LD/29 (McCook) converted to digital, carrying both stations. (10/13/2010)
The FCC has upheld a $7,000 fine against Cornell College for failure to file a timely license renewal application for KRNL-FM/89.7 (Mount Vernon) and continuing to operate the station after the license expired. The FCC says KRNL's license renewal application was due by Oct. 1, 2004, but was not filed until more than a month after the license expired in 2005. After the fine was first proposed in 2007, Cornell sought a reduction based on financial hardship and said it made a good faith effort to comply with the rules. The FCC says though Cornell initiated the online renewal process for KRNL before the deadline, it didn't finish the application until March 9, 2005, and also says the college did not submit required documentation to prove financial hardship. (10/12/2010)
NBC 15 (WMTV Madison) has moved the start of its morning newscast up to 4:30 a.m., joining CBS affiliate WISC/3 in the earlier time slot. ABC affiliate WKOW/27 continues to start at 5 a.m. Meanwhile, WKOW has added an hourlong newscast at 8 a.m. Saturdays. WMTV also has weekend morning newscasts, but only the Sunday shows compete head-to-head. Meanwhile, in Green Bay, Warren Gerds of the Press Gazette reports that ABC affiliate WBAY/2 will move the start of its morning newscast up to 4:30 a.m. next Monday, Oct. 18. (10/12/2010)
Chadrad Communications, owned by Kathleen R. Brown, has applied to move the construction permit for a new station licensed to Hay Springs from 107.7 to 99.9. Chadrad states the change would allow it to use a different tower site, which would get the station on the air more quickly. The current CP calls for 100kW/150m from south of Chadron; the application seeks 100kW/120m from a tower east of Chadron already used by KVAR/93.7 (Pine Ridge, SD). Chadrad also owns KCSR/610 (Chadron) and bought the CP earlier this year from Big Cat Broadcasting for $85,000. (10/11/2010)
After one denial, the FCC has approved The Praise Network's plan to get KGRJ/89.9 (Chamberlain) on the air after the collapse of the tower it had originally planned to used. The original construction permit called for the station to use 47.5kW/310m (class C1) from the KPLO-TV/FM tower, which collapsed during an ice storm last winter. The FCC denied KGRJ's application to use lower power from a tower in Chamberlain because The Praise Network was selected to win the original CP based on its larger proposed coverage area. Now, the FCC has approved KGRJ's application to use 21.5kW/78m (class C3) from another tower near Chamberlain, granting a waiver to resolve the coverage area concerns. KGRJ said it would re-apply for the original facilities once the new KPLO tower is built. (10/11/2010)
Madison's FOX 47 (WMSN-TV) is in the process of moving from VHF to UHF. The station initially opted to keep its channel 11 digital broadcast channel, but then decided to move to channel 49. Engineers are posting updates on the station's website, saying WMSN is currently broadcasting from a temporary side-mounted channel 11 antenna and should complete the transition to channel 49 from a top-mounted antenna by November 1. It'll use 310kW/450m on channel 49. With the move, Madison will be an all-UHF market, the only one in Wisconsin. (10/11/2010)
CBS affiliate WJMN-TV/3.1 (Escanaba-Marquette) has upgraded to 1,000kW, though the station says its still testing the transmitter. The new power level is, by far, the highest ever used by an Upper Peninsula station. WJMN broadcasts on digital channel 48 and is a satellite of WFRV/5.1 (Green Bay). (10/8/2010)
More TheCoolTV: the music network is now on Sinclair's WUCW/23.2 (Minneapolis) and KDSM/17.2 (Des Moines), as expected. The stations are also expected to begin carrying The Country Network on .3 in the coming months. (10/8/2010)
CBS affiliate KGAN (Cedar Rapids) has added TheCoolTV on channel 2.2. Meanwhile, The Country Network is expected to be added on KFXA/28.2 (Cedar Rapids), which carries FOX on 28.1, within the next several months. The stations are operated by Sinclair Broadcasting. (10/6/2010)
NBC affiliate KHAS-TV (Hastings) has added ThisTV on channel 5.2. (10/6/2010)
Minnesota Public Radio has switched the programming on translator K231AT/94.1 (Pine City-Beroun) from its News network to its Classical network. The change follows the sign-on of WGRH/88.5 (Hinckley), which carries the News network. (10/4/2010)
American Family Radio's KBOJ/88.1 (Worthington) went silent on Oct. 1. In an FCC filing, AFR says the 250-Watt station had to leave the air because the tower it used is being dismantled. An application for a new transmitter site has not yet been filed. (10/4/2010)
The Upper Midwest was well-represented at the NAB Marconi Radio Awards last week. Hubbard Broadcasting's "KS95" (KSTP-FM/94.5 St. Paul) was named Large Market Station of the Year, James Ingstad's KFGO/790 (Fargo) was named Small Market Station of the Year, and Leo Greco of WMT/600 (Cedar Rapids) was named Small Market Personality of the Year. (10/4/2010)
The new format at KRGY/97.3 (Aurora-Grand Island) is Classic Rock as "The Wolf." The Legacy Communications station, formerly Hot Adult Contemporary "Star 97.3," had been stunting with Christmas music for several days. Its primary competition is NRG Media's KROR/101.5 (Hastings). (10/1/2010)
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