KZWU/96.3 (Pleasantville) and KZWF/105.9 (Patterson) have been off the air since Oct. 14. In an application for special temporary authority to remain silent, owner Connoisseur Media states that it lost the stations' studio-to-transmitter link and has been unable to find a solution. The stations had signed on earlier this year simulcasting a Classic Country format. (11/29/2008)
Twin Cities Public Television is planning major changes to its channel lineup coinciding with the nation's transition to digital television on Feb. 18, 2009. TPT's current offering of seven channels split among KTCA-DT and KTCI-DT will be reduced to four, and both stations will remap to channel 2 on digital receivers:
2-1 (KTCA-DT1) will offer high definition programming, combining the analog simulcast currently seen on 2-1 and the HD broadcast currently seen on 2-2. This will be the primary channel carried for KTCA on cable and satellite.
2-2 (KTCA-DT2) will carry the Minnesota Channel, currently seen on KTCI-DT2. TPT says DirecTV plans to add the channel at an unknown date.
2-3 (KTCI-DT1) will be known as TPT Life, carrying lifestyle programming along with some of the programs currently seen in the evenings on KTCI's analog channel. This will be the primary channel carried for KTCI on cable and satellite. TPT Life will be similar to the national Create channel, which TPT says it is dropping, in part, due to poor picture and sound quality.
2-4 (KTCI-DT2) will carry the weather programming that has been a fixture on KTCI for decades, although most analog cable and satellite customers will no longer be able to see it.
The remaining channel leaving the lineup is PBS Kids, which is shutting down nationally and will leave TPT's lineup on Dec. 15. The new lineup leaves room for future expansion, which TPT says could include new channels, mobile TV, or a lease of spectrum to commercial interests. (11/27/2008)
ION Media Networks and Urban Television, LLC, are proposing a novel way of getting mandatory cable and satellite coverage of a digital TV subchannel: splitting each of ION's 42 full-power TV licenses into a shared-time arrangement. Ion's stations include KFPX (Newton-Des Moines), KPXR (Cedar Rapids), KPXM (St. Cloud-Minneapolis, and WPXE (Kenosha-Milwaukee). The two companies argue that if the stations are licensed under shared-time arrangements, cable and satellite providers should be required to carry one channel for each of the licensees. Unlike other shared-time arrangements in which licensees split the broadcast day, the two licensees would broadcast simultaneously, sharing the same digital channel. Urban Television, of which ION owns 49%, is launching a new network aimed at African-Americans. The companies argue that cable and satellite coverage is an essential element of the success of the new network. (11/26/2008)
A car crash on Sunday, Nov. 23 killed Patrick Mormann, 31, who had worked at Radio Dubuque for the past decade. Mormann was the assistant program director and music director for 92.9 "KAT FM" (KATF) 101.1 "The River" (WVRE), and hosted afternoons on KATF and middays at WVRE. He was also producer/director for the Hawkeye Football Radio Network with Gary Dolphin. Here's more coverage from KCRG-TV9. (11/25/2008)
The Dubuque Telegraph Herald reports that WDBQ-FM/107.5 (Galena, IL-Dubuque) has switched from Oldies to Classic Hits as "Q107.5". The change at the Cumulus station came on Friday, Nov. 14. (11/24/2008)
EARLY DIGITAL TV CONVERSIONS:
Although the deadline for full-power analog stations to end broadcating is Feb. 17, 2009, at least nine analog TV stations in the Upper Midwest have already left the air, and another three plan to end analog broadcasting before February:
Minnesota: KRII/11 (Chisholm) plans an early flash-cut to digital broadcasting on Jan. 6, 2009. The station has no digital companion channel since its initial construction permit was granted after allotments for digital channels were made. KRII is a satellite of NBC affiliate KBJR/6 (Superior, WI); owner Granite Broadcasting also controls the CBS, CW, and My Network TV affiliations in the Duluth market, but it's not known if any will be carried on KRII-DT subchannels.
Nebraska: PBS member network NET Nebraska has already ended analog broadcasting at KUON/12 (Lincoln), KPNE/9 (North Platte), KMNE/7 (Bassett), KRNE/12 (Merriman), and KTNE/13 (Alliance), while KXNE/19 (Norfolk) is off the air for digital conversion and is expected to return as digital-only within a few weeks. All of those stations are operating digitally on their former analog channel. Analog stations KYNE/26 (Omaha), KHNE/29 (Hastings), and KLNE/3 (Lexington) will remain on the air until 2/17/2009 since their digital broadcasts will continue on their current channels: KYNE/17, KHNE/28, and KLNE/26. FCC filings also indicate NET translators in Beatrice, Benkleman, Falls City, McCook, and Pawnee City have been flash-cut to digital; NET plans to convert all of its translators to digital by 2/17/2009, though the federal deadline only applies to full-power stations.
Nebraska: NBC affiliate KHAS-TV/5 (Hastings) plans an early conversion to digital-only broadcasting on Dec. 1. The station says the early switch is being made because of Nebraska's unpredictable winter weather. KHAS will be converting channel 5 from analog to digital broadcasting, and will be one of only four dozen stations in the country transmitting digitally on VHF Low (channels 2-6).
North Dakota: Prairie Public stations KWSE/4 (Williston) and KDSE/9 (Dickson) left the air on Sept. 1. Digital broadcasts continue on KWSE-DT/51 and KDSE-DT/20.
South Dakota: South Dakota Public Broadcasting station KPSD/13 (Eagle Butte) will convert to digital-only on Dec. 3. Other SDPB analog broadcasts will continue until February.
Wisconsin: WWAZ-TV/68 (Fond du Lac), which had carried FamilyNet, left the air in January 2008 for financial reasons and has received FCC permission to keep its analog transmitter silent permanently. However, WWAZ-DT/44 also left the air in January and had not returned at last report. It has proposed moving digital operations to channel 5 once WFRV (Green Bay) leaves the channel, but another filing indicates financial constraints will prevent construction of the full post-transition facility until at least 2010. WWAZ owner Pappas Telecasting filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in May. (11/24/2008)
85-Watt Translator W225BF/92.9 (Mauston) is on the air relaying the Soft Oldies format of WRJC/1270 (Mauston). W225BF transmits from the same tower as WRJC-FM/92.1 west of Mauston. It's the second AM-on-FM translator in Wisconsin, the other being WISS/1100 translator W247AZ/97.3 (Berlin). The FCC has still not issued a permanent rulemaking on FM translators carrying AM stations, but is allowing the practice through special temporary authorities. Rebroadcasts of HD subchannels have also been reported in other areas of the country. (11/23/2008)
KSTP-TV/5 (ABC) has decided to make the 11:05 p.m. Monday-Thursday newscast it added during the campaign season a permanent addition to the lineup, according to the Pioneer Press. Not only is it the only 11 p.m. newscast in the market, it may be the only 11 p.m. newscast in the central time zone. In the Eastern and Pacific time zones, "big three" network affiliates carry their late newscasts at 11 p.m. Between its newscasts and the "Twin Cities Live" magazine show, KSTP now has seven hours of live, local programming each weekday, the most of any station in Minnesota. (11/22/2008)
Economic tough times have lead to job cuts at many radio groups nationwide. Here's a summary of some of the cuts over the past few months in the Upper Midwest:
The latest all-Christmas flips include KELO-FM/92.5 (Sioux Falls) and WLJY/96.7 (Whiting-Wausau). There are now at least fifteen all-Christmas stations in the Upper Midwest, which is three more than last year on this date (see the list here). One station that hasn't flipped is Milwaukee's B93.3 (WLDB), which had been promoting Nov. 13 as the start of Christmas music but didn't go all-Christmas, perhaps because of new competition from 94.5 "Lake FM." A number of stations are promoting flips on their websites, including Sault Ste. Marie's "Oldies 93" (WNBY-FM Newberry) on Nov. 21, Grand Island's KSYZ/107.7 on Thanksgiving Day, and St. Cloud's "Spirit 92.9" (KKJM St. Joseph) and "Lite 99.9" (KCML St. Joseph) on the day after Thanksgiving. (11/20/2008)
92.1 "Lite FM" (WWAX Hermantown-Duluth) has added the syndicated Bob & Sheri morning show. Other personalities shift later into the day, with Chris Kelly from 9-Noon, Tony Hart from Noon-3, Shelly Bergen from 3-7, and Delilah from 7-Midnight. (11/18/2008)
KKAR/1290 (Omaha) has added Imus in the Morning from 5-8 a.m., replacing longform news in that timeslot. Outside of local newscasts and weather updates, KKAR's weekday schedule now consists entirely of nationally-syndicated talk shows. (11/18/2008)
WisconsinBroadcasting.com reports that WROE/94.3 (Neenah-Appleton) has reverted to its previous Adult Contemporary format as "Soft Rock 94.3," dropping Midwest Communications' version of the Variety Hits format. This year, Midwest Variety Hits stations in the Green Bay and Wausau markets (WZBY and WOFM/WIZD) transitioned to Classic Hits, and the Duluth outlet (KDAL-FM) transitioned to Adult Alternative. (11/17/2008)
102.9 "Lite FM" (WLTE Minneapolis) flipped to all-Christmas on Nov. 12 at 5 p.m., according to yes.com music logs. Other conversions over the past week and a half include Madison's WOLX/94.9 (Baraboo), Duluth's 92-1 "Lite FM" (WWAX Hermantown), Eau Claire's "Mix 98.1" (WISM Altoona), and Cedar Rapids' KDAT/104.5 outside of John Tesh's syndicated show. Des Moines' "Lite 104.1" (KLTI Ames) is promoting a Nov. 14 flip. The Quad City Times reports that "Mix 96" (KMXG Clinton) will be Clear Channel's Christmas station in the market this year, flipping on Nov. 22, instead of KUUL/101.3 (East Moline, IL). Track the 2008 Christmas flips right here. (11/13/2008)
New station KKWB/102.5 (Kelliher-Bemidji) has signed on with a Country format as "Coyote 102.5." Edward Paul De La Hunt won the station, originally alloted as class A, in FCC Auction No. 62 with a $45,000 bid, and upgraded it to class C2 (50kW/144m). Edward De La Hunt, Senior has a construction permit for new station WBKK/820 (Wilton-Bemidji). The De La Hunt family owns seven other stations in the Park Rapids, Walker, and Staples/Verndale areas. KKWB is the third Country station in the Bemidji market and the third new FM station in the market in the past year, bringing the Bemidji area to ten commercial stations split among three area families. (11/8/2008)
Journal Broadcasting's WKTI/94.5 (Milwaukee) has dropped its 32-year-old Hot Adult Contemporary format for Variety Hits as "94.5 Lake FM." The switch happened at Noon Thursday (11/7), and the station plans to change callsign to WLWK. WISN-TV, The Business Journal, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report the entire WKTI airstaff is out as part of the format change, but, unlike many other Variety Hits stations, "Lake FM" plans to eventually have on-air personalities. Journal is launching the new format as three of its main competitors spin Christmas tunes. The station's website describes the new format as follows: "Instead of being limited to just a few hundred of the same tired songs, we're playing thousands of songs from the 60's to today, including Pop, Rock, Top 40 and the timeless classics." (11/7/2008)
The digital signal of NBC affiliate KWWL/7 (Waterloo-Cedar Rapids) has been off the air since Wednesday morning. The outage has also affected satellite and cable providers who had already switched from the station's analog signal to digital. (11/7/2008)
MORE CHRISTMAS FLIPS:
Green Bay's 104.3 "The Breeze" (WECB Seymour) is the latest all-Christmas station, having flipped on Monday morning (11/3), according to WisconsinBroadcasting.com. Meanwhile, Milwaukee is poised to get a third major FM all-Christmas station: "B93.3" (WLDB) is promoting a flip to all-Christmas on November 13 on its website. And in the Twin Cities, yes.com music logs indicate KOOL 108 (KQQL/107.9 Anoka) flipped to Christmas on Monday morning but then went back to its regular format Monday afternoon. Track the 2008 Christmas flips right here. (11/4/2008)
ALL CHRISTMAS UPDATE:
Besides the two Milwaukee stations which flipped on Halloween (see below), all-Christmas formats came to the Cedar Rapids and Fargo markets over the weekend on "95-7 Kiss Country" (KKSY Anamosa-Cedar Rapids) and 106.9 "The Eagle" (KEGK Wahpeton-Fargo). Track the 2008 Christmas flips right here. (11/3/2008)
KSTP-TV's old morning co-anchors are reuniting at WCCO-TV. Mike Binkley will join Angela Davis on the anchor desk after Tuesday's elections. Scott Libin, the current WCCO news director, first paired Binkley and Davis when all three were at KSTP, and the newscast became number one in the market. Binkley also reported for KSTP for twenty years. (11/1/2008)
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