Three strikes and you're out? Clear Channel's "The Score" Sports format has disappeared from the Twin Cities dial for the third time. Its most recent home, the HD2 signal of KTCZ/97.1, began carrying the iHeartRadio New Music channel a few months ago. "The Score" had originally been heard on KFXN/690 and was moved to the HD2 signal of KQQL/107.9 when Clear Channel donated 690 to a minority group in 2011. It later left KQQL-HD2 and resurfaced on KTCZ-HD2 after a brief absence. thescore690.com is still active and redirecting to thescore1035.com, apparently referring to Clear Channel's 103.5 translator which instead relays the KTCN/1130 News/Talk format. The website suggests Sporting News Radio is still being carried, but the online listing does not match the broadcast schedule. (11/30/2013)
The HD2 signal of CBS' KZJK/104.1 (St. Louis Park-Minneapolis) has switched over to "Christmas FM," replacing the usual "Lite FM" branding that had been used since the Adult Contemporary format formerly heard on WLTE/102.9 moved over to 104.1 HD2 two years ago.
Meanwhile, at least a dozen other Upper Midwest stations began playing Christmas music on Thanksgiving Day. The list includes Dubuque's "Super Hits 106" (KIYX Sageville), Brainerd's "Cool 103.5" (KUAL), Duluth's "Life 97.3" (KDNW), KNSG/94.7 (Springfield, MN), Willmar's KDJS/1590, Omaha's KGBI/100.7, Rapid City's "97.5 The Hills" (KKLS/920 and FM translator), Sioux Falls' KELO-FM/101.9, "Lite 107.3" (WSJY Fort Atkinson-Janesville), Madison's "Life 102.5" (WNWC), Sheboygan's "Lake 98-1" (WLKN Cleveland), and Wausau's "89Q" (WCLQ). Many more flips are being promoted for Friday.
Stations that made the switch to Santa earlier in the week included Grand Forks' "Lite Rock 104.3" (KZLT East Grand Forks) and Sault Ste. Marie's "Oldies 93" (WNBY-FM/93.9 Newberry) on Monday and Milwaukee's "Oldies 95.7" (WRIT-FM) on Tuesday. See the pending flips here and send any tips to JonEllis@NorthPine.com. (11/28/2013, updated 12/2 to remove KCML, which went back to its regular format)
The FCC has granted a change that will allow future station WEMP/98.9 (Two Rivers) to get on the air, but owner Mark Heller has just 20 days to accomplish the task. Dec. 16 is the three-year deadline for the new station to sign on. The FCC has approved a modification for WEMP to transmit from the WLKN/98.1 tower north of Cleveland using 6kW/89m while remaining licensed to Two Rivers. The original CP site, granted before Heller owned the station, called for using a tower in the Town of Newton that was never built due to opposition from the local government. Heller then applied to move to the Cleveland site and change the community of license to Howards Grove; after the FCC sat on the application, Heller modified it to keep Two Rivers as the community of license. (11/26/2013)
The FCC has granted an upgrade for Fife Communications' "Mix 93.5" (KCVM Hudson-Cedar Falls-Waterloo). KCVM will change its community of license to Evansdale and increase from its present 6kW/99m to 24.5kW/81m from a tower near Dunkerton, upgrading from class A to C3. Though the change will leave Hudson without a license, KCVM successfully argued that the move should be allowed because both Hudson and Evansdale are within the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Urbanized Area. (11/26/2013)
KGYM/1600 translator K298BM/107.5 (Cedar Rapids) is temporarily off the air pending a transmitter move. The 250-Watt translator, which signed on last year, tells the FCC it was forced to sign of Nov. 8 after the landlord ordered it to leave its tower on the southwest side of the city by. The FCC has granted a construction permit to move to a tower on the northeast side while remaining 250 Watts. K298BM carries KGYM, an ESPN affiliate, via the HD4 signal of sister station KZIA/102.9, a setup which allows the AM and FM signals to carry different sports play-by-play. KGYM also feeds a translator in Iowa City via KZIA-HD3. (11/25/2013)
KDKT/1410 (Beulah) tells the FCC it's operating at 500 Watts (daytime) due to failure of its main transmitter. The FOX Sports Radio affiliate normally uses 1kW daytime, giving it fringe coverage of Bismarck, and 189 Watts at night. In a request for special temporary authority, KDKT says it expects to be back to full power within sixty days. (11/25/2013)
Nearly four years after its tower collapsed, CBS affiliate KPLO/6.1 (Reliance-Pierre, RF channel 13) is back to full power from a new tower. The station's former 53-year-old tower on Medicine Butte collapsed during a January 2010 ice storm and was not rebuilt at that site after objections from the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, which considers the butte to be sacred. KPLO-TV had been using a temporary 40kW/231m facility from Medicine Butte and has now activated a 46.9kW/306m facility from a site 6km to the southwest. It's owned by Young Broadcasting and acts as a satellite of KELO-TV/11.1 (Sioux Falls); they also carry My Network TV and syndicated programming on a subchannel. The 2010 tower collapse also affected James River Broadcasting's KPLO-FM/94.5 (Reliance-Pierre), which is at reduced power from the temporary tower and has a construction permit to move to the new tower. (11/25/2013)
The Friday before Thanksgiving has proven to be popular for the debut of all-Christmas formats again this year. Stations welcoming Santa and his friends Friday included Minneapolis' "Kool 108" (KQQL/107.9 Anoka), Des Moines' "Lite 104.1" (KLTI-FM Ames), Omaha's "Star 104.5" (KSRZ), Duluth's "Kool 101.7" (KLDJ), La Crosse's "Classic Hits-mas 94.7" (KCLH Caledonia), and Fond du Lac's "Sunny 97.7" (WFDL-FM Lomira). Madison's WOLX/94.9 (Baraboo), Eau Claire's "Mix 98.1" (WISM Altoona), and Rhinelander's WOBT/1240-101.3 had made the flip earlier in the week. North of the border, Winnipeg's recently-tweaked "Lite & Refreshing 100.7" (CFJL) is mixing in a heavy dose of Christmas music. Track this year's flips here and send any tips to JonEllis@NorthPine.com. (11/22/2013)
After a brief stint carring "InformedTV," low-power TV station K25IA-D (Minneapolis) has returned to carrying five channels from Trinity Broadcasting Network. "Informed TV," a loop of lectures from 2008 Republican Congressional candidate Alan Roebke, had debuted in late September. The programming had already been seen on K21GN-D/21.3 (Alexandria). K25IA was among several dozen stations Regal Media bought from Trinity Broadcasting Network last year. Regal Media is headed by George Cooney, the CEO of TV and film producer EUE/Screen Gems. (11/21/2013)
NEBRASKA/NORTH DAKOTA/SOUTH DAKOTA:
Gray TV will have a virtual triopoly in the Lincoln-Tri Cities market and a virtual duopoly in the Bismarck-Minot market under deals announced Wednesday. Gray will buy all but one of Hoak Media's stations while Gray shared services partner Excalibur Broadcasting will buy Parker Broadcasting's stations and the remaining Hoak station for a combined $335 million. Separately, Excalibur will buy Prime Cities Broadcasting's stations in the Bismarck-Minot market for $7.5 million. Here's how the TV landscape would look if the deals get regulatory approval:
Lincoln-Tri Cities: Gray already owns CBS affiliate KOLN/10.1 (Lincoln) and satellite KGIN/11.1 (Grand Island) and recently purchased My Network TV affiliate KSNB-TV/4.1 (Superior) through failing station waiver. NBC affiliate KHAS-TV/5.1 (Hastings) would be sold to Excalibur and operated by Gray. KOLN/KGIN and KHAS currently have separate news departments.
North Platte: NBC affiliate KNOP/2.1 and low-power FOX affiliate K11TW, which is rebroadcast on a KNOP subchannel, would be sold to Gray. Gray already owns low-power CBS affiliate KNPL-LD/11.1, which recently converted from a translator to a locally-identified station with local newscasts competing with KNOP. The low-power stations don't count towards ownership caps.
Sioux Falls: Gray would buy ABC affiliate KSFY/13.1 (Sioux Falls) and satellites KABY/9.1 (Aberdeen) and KPRY/4.1 (Pierre). KSFY carries CW+ on a subchannel.
Fargo: Gray would buy NBC affiliate KVLY-TV/11.1 (Fargo), while CBS affiliate KXJB/4.1 (Valley City-Fargo) would be sold to Excalibur and operated by Gray. The two stations are already jointly operated.
Bismarck-Minot: Gray would buy NBC affiliates KFYR-TV/5.1 (Bismarck), KMOT/10.1 (Minot), KQCD/7.1 (Dickinson), and KUMV/8.1 (Williston). FOX affiliates KNDX/26.1 (Bismarck) and KXND/24.1 (Minot) would be sold to Excalibur and operated by Gray. KNDX/KXND does not have a news department. (11/20/2013)
Christian broadcaster Wilkins Radio Network is poised to buy WKSH/1640 (Sussex-Milwaukee). The news comes in an application for Wilkins to buy a Virginia station, but the application to transfer WKSH's license was not publicly available in the FCC database as of Wednesday. WKSH, a former Radio Disney owned-and-operated station, went off the air in September and returned briefly at the end of October, apparently because the FCC has still not acted on its request for special temporary authority to remain silent. Wilkins owns 19 other stations, all on AM. WKSH had carried a Christian format prior to being sold to Radio Disney in 2002. (11/20/2013)
Catholic broadcaster Agnus Dei Communications is buying KTUT/89.5 (Frankfort) from Church Planters of America for $52,500. Agnus Dei also operates KSTJ/91.3 (Hartford-Sioux Falls) and KSJP/88.9 (Ipswich-Aberdeen) and has a construction permit for KSJW/100.9 (Murdo-Pierre). KTUT is currently licensed for just 100 Watts but has applied to upgrade to 65kW, providing a rimshot signal to Huron and the outskirts of Watertown. (11/20/2013)
WRPN/1600 (Ripon) has dropped News/Talk in favor of Cumulus Media's "Classic Hits Radio" format. DX-midAMerica first reported the change, which appears to have happened earlier this week. The station's most recent syndicated Talk lineup had been non-political, including Bloomberg Radio, Clark Howard, Dave Ramsey, and Jim Bohannon, and FOX Sports Radio. CBS News and local sports play-by-play remain on WRPN's schedule after the change. (11/19/2013)
The purchase price for the "KOTA Territory" stations is $10 million, according to documents filed with the FCC. Schurz Communications subsidiary New Rushmore Radio is buying the ABC affiliates from Duhamel Broadcasting, which has owned them since their inception. The stations are KOTA-TV/3.1 (Rapid City), KHSD/11.1 (Lead, SD), KDUH/4.1 (Scottsbluff, NE), KSGW/12.1 (Sheridan, WY), and two translator/low-power TV stations. Duhamel Broadcasting also operates a group of five radio stations in Rapid City which it is retaining; New Rushmore Radio already owns a competing group of six radio stations in the market. The asset purchase agreement mentions that New Rushmore Radio may be required to divest two of its radio stations, but New Rushmore Radio argues that it should be allowed to keep all six radio stations because the transaction simply moves KOTA-TV's cross-ownership from one radio group to another. Under the agreement, Duhamel will be allowed to continue using the KOTA callsign on AM 1380. The deal also includes a non-competition agreement prohibiting William Duhamel from working in the TV business in the market for two years. (11/19/2013)
A Classical format has returned to Winnipeg on the former CFEQ-FM/107.1. DX'er Shawn Axelrod reports the changeover to "Classic FM 107.1" came Monday (11/18) with an expected new callsign of CKCL-FM and announcements that the format would include some Jazz at night. The CRTC approved the flip earlier this year after owner Golden West Broadcasting, which also operates Christian-formatted CHVN-FM/95.1, said CFEQ's previous "Ignite 107" Christian Hits format was unprofitable. Classical music hasn't been available full-time in Winnipeg (and most other Canadian cities) since CBC Radio 2 and switched most of its schedule to Adult Alternative a few years ago. (11/18/2013)
Christmas music has arrived for the season in several more Upper Midwest markets. "River 105.5" (KRBI-FM St. Peter-Mankato) made the flip on Friday. On Monday, KDAT/104.5 (Cedar Rapids), "B107.3" (KBBK Lincoln), and "Mix 98.1" (WISM Altoona-Eau Claire) joined the list. "Y105.5" (WLJY Nekoosa-Wisconsin Rapids) also flipped at an unknown date. Meanwhile, "Lite 104.1" (KLTI-FM Ames-Des Moines) ran a Christmas preview weekend and is also running Christmas music during the evening until a full flip on Friday. Many more stations have announced plans to start Christmas music on Thanksgiving or "black Friday." Track this year's flips here and send any tips to JonEllis@NorthPine.com. (11/18/2013)
NEW FM TRANSLATORS GRANTED:
A non-commercial Classic Country network is buying KVAM/88.3 (Kimball). Whiplash Radio will buy KVAM from Cedar Cove Broadcasting for $3,500. The 510-Watt station will carry the "Cat Country" network, which is also heard on recently-launched low-Wattage stations in Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma. KVAM's current format is uknown; the station has been licensed for the past two years but has had authority to remain silent for much of that time. Cedar Cove Broadcasting is headed by Victor Michael, who also owns Laramie Mountain Broadcasting, the licensee of KIMB/1260 (Kimball). (11/17/2013)
The price for Prairie Winds Broadcasting's purchase of Armada Media's six radio stations in the Aberdeen market is $5.3 million, according to an asset purchase agreement filed with the FCC. (See earlier story below for a list of stations.) Prairie Winds Broadcasting is owned by Brian Lundquist of Aberdeen (30 percent), Eldon Swingler of Aberdeen (18 percent), Kyle Johnson of Sioux Falls (15.56 percent), Kevin Johnson of Watertown (15.56 percent), the Orin and Ardelle Johnson Living Trust (15.55 percent), and Jeffrey E. Swingler of Kansas City (5.33 percent). (11/12/2013)
New Wisconsin Public Radio station WHWA/104.7 (Washburn) is on the air carrying the NPR News & Classical Music Network. The new station uses 17.5kW/184m (class C2) from a tower west of Washburn and replaces 38-Watt WPR translator W284AN/104.7 (Ashland). WHWA's sign-on marks the end of a two-decade effort to improve public radio reception in the Chequamegon Bay area. WUWS/90.9 (Ashland) signed on last year carrying WPR's Ideas Network. (11/11/2013)
KSLS/90.9 (Dickinson) has moved to 90.7, upgrading slightly from 2kW to 3.4kW in the process. The station rebroadcasts the Contemporary Christian format of KSLT/107.1 (Spearfish-Rapid City, SD). (11/11/2013)
NEW FM TRANSLATORS GRANTED:
NBC affiliate KHAS-TV/5 (Hastings) has switched its newscasts to HD and debuted a new set. The new look began Nov. 6. All of the stations in the market are now broadcasting their news in HD, with ABC affiliate KHGI (Kearney) and co-operated FOX affiliate KFXL (Lincoln) making the switch a few months ago. (11/11/2013)
The FCC has given Townsquare Media a deadline for spinning off three stations in the Waterloo area. The situation arose when Townsquare reached a deal to buy Cumulus Media's groups in Waterloo and Cedar Rapids, among others. Trouble is, the market designation for three Waterloo-area stations (KKHQ/92.3 Oelwein, KCRR/97.7 Grundy Center, and KOEL-FM/98.5 Cedar Falls) was changed to Cedar Rapids last year after the Waterloo market was dissolved, putting Cumulus over the ownership cap for the market and requiring devistiture when the stations were sold. On Friday, the FCC announced that Townsquare's divestiture trust will face a two-year deadline for spinning off the stations. It's not yet clear if Townsquare can keep the stations simply by asking Nielsen Audio to remove their designations as Cedar Rapids-market stations, since all three are licensed to communities outside of the market. (11/9/2013)
The Nebraska Broadcasters Association sends word that Elizabeth "Ibs" Young, the owner of KSID/1340 and KSID-FM/98.7 (Sidney), died last month after a brief battle with ovarian cancer. Young was raised in the Sandhills and had lived in Sidney since 1958, raising four children with her husband David, who preceded her in death. Young owns 100 percent of KSID Radio, Inc., but ownership filings indicate Dead-Short Broadcasting LLC has been operating the radio stations under a local marketing agreement since 2004. Dead-Short Broadcasting is headed by Young's daughter Suzy Ernest. (11/9/2013)
Christmas has come earlier than usual to Iowa: As you may already know, Clear Channel's "Capital 106.3" (KPTL Ankeny-Des Moines) entered the holiday format for the first time this year with a flip on Nov. 1. Saga's "Lite 104.1" (KLTI-FM Ames-Des Moines) has been the market's Christmas outlet in the past and is promoting a mid-November flip on its Facebook page. To the east, Clear Channel's "Mix 96" (KMXG/96.1 Clinton-Quad Cities) made the switch to all-Christmas today (Nov. 8). In previous years, KMXG had run all-Christmas weekends in November but not gone full-time Christmas until closer to Thanksgiving. And, as first reported by RadioInsight, Clear Channel's "KG95" (KGLI/95.5 Sioux City) also made the switch to all-Santa, earlier than last year. Track this year's flips here and send any tips to JonEllis@NorthPine.com. (11/8/2013)
Nexstar Broadcasting will run the CBS, FOX, and CW affiliates in the Quad Cities market after the purchase Grant Company's TV stations. Nexstar will pay $87.5 million for Grant's seven stations in four markets, including FOX affiliate KLJB/18.1 (Davenport), CW affiliate KCGW/26.1 (Burlington-Quad Cities), FOX affiliate WLAX/25.1 (La Crosse), and WLAX satellite WEUX/48.1 (Chippewa Falls-Eau Claire). Nexstar is already in the process of buying CBS affiliate WHBF/4.1 (Rock Island-Quad Cities) and will divest KLJB to Mission Broadcasting but continue to operate the station under a local service agreement. The transfer could mean yet another change for KLJB's 9 p.m. newscast, which was produced by Independent News Network and then ABC affiliate WQAD before being switched to NBC affiliate KWQC at the beginning of the year. (11/6/2013)
Here's a problem you don't often see in FCC filings: Bullet holes in the transmission line. Armada Media's KHAQ/98.5 (Maxwell-North Platte) says in a special temporary authority filing that it's operating at about 50 percent of its normal 100kW due to bullet holes in its transmission line. There's no further explanation of what happened, but the filing says the station's consulting engineer determined that the transmission line must be replaced. KHAQ, which carries a Classic Rock format as "The Hawk," transmits from a tower along U.S. Highway 83 about five miles north of North Platte. (11/6/2013)
Future station WEMP/98.9 (Two Rivers) is separating a dispute over a community of license change from a proposed facility change in an attempt to get the station on the air before its construction permit expires Dec. 16. WEMP's current construction permit calls for 6kW/100m from a nonexistent tower in the Town of Newton; the tower was never built because the town denied a conditional use permit. Last year, Mark Heller's Metro North Communications bought the station and applied to move it to an existing tower north of Cleveland, using 6kW/89m, and change the community of license to Howards Grove. The application has sat idle after another broadcaster filed an informal objection, prompting the FCC to ask Metro North to submit additional information showing that the change was not simply a move of the station into the Sheboygan Urbanized Area. Then came the government shutdown. Now, Metro North has modified its application to keep Two Rivers as the community of license but use the proposed 6kW/89m facility from the Cleveland tower, submitting a map that shows the proposed facility would deliver a city-grade signal to Two Rivers. (11/5/2013)
Evanov Communications' CFJL-FM/100.7 (Winnipeg) has segued to a Light Adult Contemporary direction, dropping its "Breeze" slogan in favor of "100.7 Lite & Refreshing." The change comes after the CRTC approved a format tweak dropping much of the Nostalgia from CFJL's playlist. This is the sixth format 100.7 has carried since it signed on in 2002. (11/4/2013)
Gray Television is expanding to a fourth Nebraska TV market with the purchase of Yellowstone Television's stations for $23 million. Yellowstone's stations include KSTF/10 (Scottsbluff), which is a satellite of CBS and CW affiliate KGWN-TV/5 (Cheyenne, WY). Besides KSTF and KGWN, the purchase also includes NBC affiliate KCHY-LP/13 (Cheyenne, WY), NBC affiliate KCWY/13 (Casper, WY), and a station in Texas. The announcement comes just one business day after Yellowstone completed its purchase of the stations from SagamoreHill Broadcasting. Gray is already operating the stations under a local marketing agreement and announced plans to combine the operations of KGWN and KCHY (KCHY's status as a low-power station means it doesn't count towards ownership caps). Gray also owns stations in the Omaha, Lincoln/Grand Island, and North Platte markets. KSTF's sale comes as Duhamel Broadcasting sells its "KOTA Territory" ABC affiliates, including KDUH/4.1 (Scottsbluff), to Schurz Communications. KSTF and KDUH are the only full-power commercial stations on the Nebraska side ot the market. (11/4/2013)
Armada Media is selling another cluster, this time in South Dakota. RadioInsight and other industry media report that Prairie Waves Broadcasting is buying Armada's six stations in the Aberdeen market for an undisclosed price. The buyer is headed by the cluster's current general manager, Brian Lundquist. The group includes News/Talk KSDN/930 (Aberdeen), ESPN affiliate KGIM/1420 (Aberdeen) and translator K296FM/107.1 (Aberdeen), "Rock 94.1" (KSDN-FM Aberdeen), Adult Contemporary "Sunny 97.7" (KNBZ Redfield), "Pheasant Country 103.7" (KGIM-FM Redfield), and Hot AC "The Point FM" (KBFO/106.7 Aberdeen). Armada is also in the process of selling its Menominee, MI cluster and also has stations in Milbank, SD/Ortonville, MN, Nebraska, and Colorado. (11/4/2013)
The CRTC will consider the proposed sale, upgrade, and conversion to commercial status of CJOA-FM/95.1 (Thunder Bay) at a January 27 hearing in Vancouver. United Christian Broadcasters Canada says Thunder Bay Christian Broadcasters, which has operated CJOA since its 1998 inception, approached UCB Canada about taking over the station. UCB Canada is non-profit group which owns three stations in southern Ontario and is part of New Zealand-based UCB International, which has operations in more than twenty countries. UCB Canada says CJOA is currently operated solely by volunteers and pledged to add staff to produce local programming. The proposed new owners also want to convert the station to commercial status, add four hours per day of syndicated programs, and increase the station's power from 50 Watts to 250 Watts, upgrading to class A1. The station's musical format would still be limited to non-Classical religious selections. (11/4/2013)
MINNESOTA/NORTH DAKOTA/SOUTH DAKOTA/WISCONSIN:
Myron Kunin, the head of a company with majority ownership in dozens of Upper Midwest radio and TV stations, has died at the age of 85, according to the Star Tribune. Kunin is best known as the founder of Regis Corp. but he is also the majority owner of Curtis Squire, Inc., which holds 85 percent of KQDS Acquisition Corp, Red River Broadcast Co., LLC, and Red Rock Radio Corp. The companies own the FOX affiliates in the Duluth and Fargo markets, the NBC affiliates in the Sioux Falls market, and 25 radio stations in Duluth, northeastern and north-central Minnesota, and northwestern Wisconsin. A memorial service will be held Sunday in Minneapolis. (11/2/2013)
Santa has arrived early at two AM stations in the Upper Midwest: Milwaukee's "Martini Radio" (WZTI/1290 Greenfield) flipped to all-Christmas at Noon on Halloween and southern Minnesota's KRUE/1170 (Waseca) became "North Pole Radio" on Nov. 1. WZTI's flip sets the record for earliest permanent flip to all-Christmas in the Upper Midwest, beating two of its FM competitors' 2008 record by several hours. Track this year's flips here and send any tips to JonEllis@NorthPine.com. (11/1/2013)
James Coloff is buying most of Susan Coloff's interest in Pilot Knob Broadcasting, the licensee of KIOW/107.3 (Forest City). The buyer will pay $343,000 for 49 percent interest in the company, with the seller retaining 1 percent. Anthony Coloff owns the other 50 percent of the company. Anthony and Susan are husband and wife and James is their son. The Coloffs also own several other radio stations in Iowa with different ownership structures. (11/1/2013)
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