Lamke Broadcasting is adding a second FM signal to its existing Grand Rapids AM-FM combo with the purchase of KBAJ/105.5 (Deer River) from Red Rock Radio. Lamke will pay $200,000 for KBAJ and will begin operating the station under a local marketing agreement on Jan. 1, 2017. Lamke also owns Oldies-formatted KOZY/1320 (Grand Rapids) and Adult Contemporary outlet KMFY/96.9 (Grand Rapids). KBAJ currently relays the Classic Rock format of KQDS-FM/94.9 (Duluth), which Red Rock is in the process of selling to Midwest Communications; the deal received FCC approval earlier this month. Red Rock still has an AM and two FM's in Duluth and an AM in Eveleth after a total of five sales this year, including KBAJ. (11/30/2016)
ALL-CHRISTMAS UPDATE (AGAIN!):
At least 69 Upper Midwest radio stations are now playing all-Christmas formats, which is a half-dozen more than had flipped by this time last year. Some of Santa's statistics:
On the day before Thanksgiving, Christmas music is already over at one of the first stations in the region to adopt the format this season. iHeartMedia launched a 70's-based Classic Hits format as "Rewind 92.1" on WXXM (Sun Prairie-Madison) on Wednesday, ending a two-week stunt with Christmas music as "Best FM." "Rewind" will have a monopoly on the format for the next month since Entercom Classic Hits outlet WOLX/94.9 (Baraboo-Madison) is now in all-Christmas mode. Non-commercial Contemporary Christian station "Life 102.5" (WNWC-FM Madison) is also due to go all-Christmas on Thanksgiving Day at Noon. (11/23/2016)
On the Monday before Thanksgiving, at least 25 Upper Midwest radio stations are running all-Christmas formats, which is five more than this time last year. Flips over the weekend included iHeartMedia's "Kool 108" (KQQL/107.9 Anoka-Minneapolis) and a new entrant, WVBO/103.9 (Winneconne-Oshkosh), which had run Christmas music on the weekends in previous years but then gone back to its regular format during the week. Another ten stations are promoting flips later this week. See the 2016 All-Christmas Stations page for a complete list. (11/21/2016)
The FCC has granted another two FM signals for the Twin Cities area after two broadcasters resolved a frequency conflict. Salem Media and the University of Northwestern-St. Paul had both applied for translators on 107.5, relaying Salem's WWTC/1280 and Northwestern's KTIS/900.
Northwestern recently modified its application to 97.5, transmitting with 250 Watts from Wells Fargo Place in St. Paul, and the application was then granted. 97.5 will use a highly directional antenna pattern to limit the signal towards KPPS-LP/97.5 (St. Louis Park). KTIS is also relayed on K214DF/90.7, which transmits from downtown Minneapolis.
Meanwhile, Salem's application for 107.5 was also approved. That translator will broadcast with 250 Watts from WWTC's tower site in St. Louis Park.
There are now 35 licenses or construction permits for FM translators or low-power FM stations in the greater metro area; see the Twin Cities Class D/LPFM Stations page for a complete list. (11/20/2016)
Besides the two translators listed above, other new FM translators granted last week include:
Two longtime journalists have announced plans to retire from Duluth NBC/CBS affiliate KBJR-TV (Superior-Duluth). The station announced Friday during its annual Christmas City of the North Parade that anchor Michelle Lee will retire at the end of the year, and news director Barbara Reyelts will retire next year. Reyelts has been with the station since 1979, and Lee joined KBJR since 1990 and was at KDLH/3 for seven years prior to that. KBJR is owned by Quincy Media. (11/20/2016)
After years of legal wrangling, the FCC says Townsquare Media can become the licensee of several FM stations in the Waterloo market. KKHQ-FM/92.3 (Oelwein-Waterloo), KCRR/97.7 (Grundy Center-Waterloo), and KOEL-FM/98.5 (Cedar Falls-Waterloo) were placed into the Cedar Rapids Divestiture Trust when Townsquare bought the former Cumulus groups in the Waterloo and Cedar Rapids markets a few years ago. That's because the stations had been moved, on paper, to the Cedar Rapids market in 2012. Nielsen Audio later reassigned the stations to the Waterloo market, but the FCC said last year that the stations couldn't be sold back to Townsquare until May 2016 due to a rule that requires a two-year waiting period when market boundaries are changed. The applications to transfer the licenses were reinstated earlier this year, and approved last week. (11/20/2016)
The FCC has granted short-term license renewals for several southwestern South Dakota and Wyoming radio stations that have been silent for much of the past several years. The stations in question are Mount Rushmore Broadcasting's KZMX/580 (Hot Springs), KZMX-FM/96.7 (Hot Springs), and KFCR/1490 (Custer), as well as Wyoming stations KRAL/1240 (Rawlins) and KIQZ/92.7 (Rawlins). Letters from the FCC's Audio Division (KFCR/KZMX-FM/KIQZ letter, KZMX/KRAL letter) say the company's "conduct has fallen far short of that which would warrant routine license renewal." The letters noted that the company "faced a number of difficulties beyond its control and sought Commission authorization for each station's periods of silence" but said that the stations can't serve the public interest when they're not on the air. The stations' licenses, along with the licenses of two sister stations in Wyoming, were only renewed for two years rather than the usual eight. The letter noted that the FCC would be watching to make sure the stations are complying with federal law. A license renewal application for the company's KAWK/105.1 (Custer) remains pending. (11/20/2016)
Another new FM signal is on the air in the Twin Cities: W235CT/94.9 (St. Paul) relays the "Radio Rey" Regional Mexican format of WREY/630 (St. Paul). W235CT transmits from the Wells Fargo Center in downtown St. Paul with 250 Watts, providing a good signal to the east metro. It was moved into the metro under the FCC's AM revitalization window. WREY's primary competitor, "La Raza" KMNV/1400 (St. Paul), also has a construction permit for a new translator on 95.7.
Other recent FM translator sign-ons include:
KQSP/1530 (Shakopee-Minneapolis) has gone off the air, citing financial problems in a notification of suspension of operations filed with the FCC. The station went silent on Oct. 26. The filing says KQSP has operated at a financial loss for the past several years and its owner, Yong W. Kim's Broadcast One, is pursuing "all possible avenues for KQSP to successfully resume operations." The station is currently licensed for 8.6kW daytime but just 10 Watts at night from a tower site in the southwestern suburb of Chanhassen. It has had a few construction permits to upgrade its daytime signal in recent years, but the current permit expires later this month. KQSP had carried a Tropical format called "La Picosa," which continues to stream online. The operators of that format say on their website that they will return "very soon" and mention the possibility of an FM signal. (11/17/2016)
`Tis the season for stations to begin going all-Christmas, but one station that's made the flip every year for a decade isn't feeling the holiday spirit this year. Townsquare Media Classic Hits outlet "Kool 101.7" (KLDJ Duluth) says in response to a listener question on its Facebook page that it won't go all-Christmas, but will sprinkle Christmas songs into its regular playlist and offer a Christmas web strem. Meanwhile, non-commercial Contemporary Christian outlet "Life 97.3" (KDNW Duluth) is promoting a flip to all-Christmas coinciding with the annual Christmas City of the North Parade this Friday (11/18). Elsewhere, Fargo's "Mix 101.9" (KRWK) flipped Sunday (11/13) and at least a half-dozen other Upper Midwest stations are promoting flips to take place over the next week; see the 2016 All-Christmas Stations page for a complete list. (11/14/2016)
WPCN/1010 (Stevens Point) and its FM translator, W221CN/92.1, have dropped Talk and Sports for Scott Shannon's "True Oldies Channel" network. The station continues to carry a local morning talk show. Its most recent lineup had included Jonathon Brandmeier, Clark Howard, and CBS Sports Radio in afternoons, nights, and weekends. Several years ago, WPCN had carried "True Oldies" in overnight and weekend timeslots. The network was also carried on sister Muzzy Broadcast Group station WSPT/97.9 (Stevens Point), which moved to Classic Hits a few years ago. (11/9/2016)
iHeartMedia's WXXM/92.1 (Sun Prairie-Madison) has dropped its 12-year-old Liberal Talk format, which had been called "The Mic," and is now running classic Christmas music as "Best FM." iHeart uses the "Best FM" brand with `80s Hits formats in a few other markets. Though the flip was almost simultaneous with an election that saw Democrats Hillary Clinton and Russ Feingold lose in Wisconsin, RadioInsight notes that the change had actually been in the works for weeks. The Liberal Talk format survived longer at WXXM than at most other stations, continuing after an aborted plan to flip to Sports in 2007 and the sign-off of Air America Radio in 2010.
WXXM is at least the third Upper Midwest station to go all-Christmas this season. Follow the 2016 All-Christmas Stations page for updates throughout the season. (11/9/2016)
Zoe Communications' WLMX-FM/104.9 (Balsam Lake) has switched from Variety Hits "Mix 105" to Classic Hits of the 1970s and 80s as "Max 104.9." The change follows Zoe's purchase of WLMX and four other stations from Red Rock Radio; WLMX is the fourth of the five to change format. WLMX had used the "Mix" slogan for most of its 19-year history, first with Adult Contemporary and later with Variety Hits. Its main coverage area extends from Rice Lake to St. Croix Falls. (11/7/2016)
SECOND AM REVITALIZATION WINDOW CLOSES:
The FCC's second AM revitalization window for 250-mile FM translator moves ended last week with a total of 41 applications in the Upper Midwest, 34 of which have been granted. The last regional application through the gate was from VCY America to move a translator permit from Appleton, WI, to Duluth to relay VCY's WQRM/850 on 99.7. Among the applications that remain pending are Salem Media and the University of Northwestern-St. Paul's duelling applications for 107.5 in the Twin Cities area. Meanwhile, the only application granted last week under the window was for a translator to move to Hayward, WI, to relay WHSM/910 on 96.9. See the 2016 AM Revitalization Translators, Round 1 and Round 2 pages for a full rundown of all of the translator filings under the windows for 250-mile moves this year. There will be more windows next year for AM stations to apply for new FM translator licenses, rather than move them. (11/6/2016)
Two Brainerd-area radio stations have changed format after R&J Broadcasting began operating the Red Rock Radio stations in the market. WWWI-FM/95.9 (Pillager) has dropped its rebroadcast of Classic Rocker KQDS-FM/94.9 (Duluth) in favor of Classic Country as "Cash 95." Meanwhile, WWWI/1270 (Baxter) has dropped NBC Sports Radio and is now rebroadcasting "Talk 100" (KLKS/100.1 Pequot Lakes). The KLKS lineup had been heard on WWWI prior to its flip to Sports. The stations apparently have no web or social media presence. They are among eight that R&J is buying from Red Rock from $1.185 million; R&J is operating the stations under a local programming marketing agreement while the deal awaits FCC approval. (11/6/2016)
Troy Paskvan's KPMI/1300 (Bemidji) has switched from Sports to Classic Country as "Legends 1300." The new format includes Imus in the Morning and news updates from FOX, ABC, and GoMN (formerly Bring Me the News). Roger Paskvan's WBJI/98.3 (Blackduck-Bemidji) had previously played some Classic Country but segued to more current songs as "Babe Country 98.3" (named for Paul Bunyan's blue ox) earlier this year. (11/6/2016)
The FCC is considering a proposal from the Red Lake Nation to allot 105.3 to Red Lake, northwest of Bemidji, for a future class C1 commercial station. Tribal priority is being sought for the allotment. The Nation had first applied for the frequency last year, proposing a 100kW/192m facility using from a new tower north of Clearbrook. It would deliver a city-grade signal to most of the Red Lake Reservation and a rimshot signal to both Bemidji and Thief River Falls. Comments on the proposed allotment are being taken until Dec. 26. (11/6/2016)
iHeartMedia's "Classic Country 1360" (KMJM Cedar Rapids) is apparently the first station in the Upper Midwest to go all-Christmas this year, at least partially. Since at least Tuesday (11/1), the station has been playing nothing but Christmas music except for three hours in morning drive. KMJM last went all-Christmas in 2013. Across town, Townsquare Media's KDAT/104.5 has gone all-Christmas every year since at least 2002 and has flipped on the Friday or Monday before Christmas every year since 2009.
Elsewhere in Iowa, iHeartMedia's "Mix 96" (KMXG/96.1 Clinton-Quad Cities) says on Facebook that it will be flipping to Christmas before Thanksgiving, and iHeartMedia's "KG95" (KGLI/95.5 Sioux City) has a Facebook post suggesting its flip will happen on Nov. 18. (11/2/2016)
The FCC has declined two commercial broadcasters' request to rescind the construction permit for new low-power FM station KCOD-LP/104.1 (Decorah) but has directed its Media Bureau to conduct "further investigative and enforcement proceedings" against the permittee, Community Radio of Decorah, Postville and Northeast Iowa. In a memorandum opinion and order, the Commission said it was concerned about the issues raised. The point of contention is that Community Radio's James Glesne was still listed as a member of the board of directors of the Postville Chamber of Commerce, the licensee of KPVL/89.1 (Postville), when the application for the Decorah LPFM station was filed, but Community Radio's application indicated that Glesne had no other broadcast interests. Glesne later indicated that he had resigned from the Chamber's board. The FCC now says that while it sees no reason to revoke the permit, the Media Bureau's admonishment of Community Radio for its handling of the situation was inadequate and that the Bureau should begin a "further letter of inquiry, designed to determine the appropriate enforcement proceedings." The FCC also directed the Media Bureau to end its unofficial practice of allowing construction permit deadlines for LPFM stations to be extended even when the original deadline has passed. (11/2/2016)
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