There's a large new FM signal on the air in Nebraska's panhandle. Last Wednesday (11/27), Christian-formatted KPNY/102.1 (Alliance) flipped the switch on a new tower 19 miles south of the old one, changing to 102.3 and upgrading to 100kW/412m (class C0). The upgrade gives KPNY the second-largest FM coverage area in the state (after Three Eagles' KZEN/100.3 Central City) and extends its main coverage area farther to the south. KPNY carries the "My Bridge Radio" network, which posted pictures of the new tower on its Facebook page. (12/3/2013)
Wisconsin Public Radio has announced that longtime host Jim Fleming will retire at the end of January as host of "To the Best of Our Knowledge," though he will continue on "Chapter a Day." Fleming has hosted the nationally-syndicated "TTBOOK" since its inception 23 years ago. Anne Strainchamps will take over as host of the show and will give up her weekly show "45 North," which airs Fridays from 9 to 11 a.m. on the Ideas Network. "On Point," which already airs in the time slot Monday through Thursday, will take over the Friday time slot. (12/3/2013)
Two dozen more Upper Midwest radio stations joined the all-Christmas list on the weekend following Thanksgiving, including Waterloo's "93-5 The Mix" (KCVM Hudson), Rochester's "Y105" (KYBA/105.3 Stewartville), St. Cloud's "Spirit 92.9" (KKJM St. Joseph), Fargo's "92-7 The Drive" (KZDR Kindred) and "Life 97.9" (KFNW-FM), Minot's "Mix 99.9" (KMXA-FM), Rapid City's "Power 107.1" (KSLT Spearfish), Sioux Falls' "Life 96.5" (KNWC-FM), and Sheboygan's "1420 The Breeze" (WJUB Plymouth). Meanwhile, Canada doesn't have the Thanksgiving kickoff to the Christmas season, since Canadian Thanksgiving is in mid-October, but Winnipeg's 102.3 "Clear FM" (CKY-FM) made the switch to all-Christmas on Saturday. See the complete list of all five dozen Upper Midwest flips here and send any tips to JonEllis@NorthPine.com. (12/2/2013)
NEW FM TRANSLATORS GRANTED:Des Moines, IA: K284BZ/104.7, 10W, Educational Media Foundation.
Iron Mountain, MI: W240CQ/95.9, 15W, Family Educ. Broadcasting Corp. of Door Co.
Roseau, MN: K247BS/97.3, 225W, Minnesota Public Radio.
Howard/Green Bay, WI: W221DA/92.1, 250W, David M. Stout. Midwest's WNFL/1440 listed as primary station.
Madison, WI: W265CV/100.9, 250W, Clear Channel. (12/2/2013)
KXNet - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson
It was "kind of a big deal" when a new anchor debuted on the 6 p.m. Saturday edition "KX News" on CBS affiliate KXMB/12 (Bismarck) and its satellites. Will Ferrell, in full character as Ron Burgundy, co-anchored the newscast with Amber Schatz as a promotion for "Anchorman 2," which opens Dec. 18. "Burgundy" was limited to reading a few light stories, including one about Santa visiting Mandan, and also introduced news packages on a two-shot with Schatz. The station said on its Facebook page that the newscast was pre-recorded for security reasons and because of a late-running football game. (12/1/2013)
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:Appleton, WI: W300CM/107.9, 250W, Sister Grace, Inc.
Port Washington, WI: W286CO/105.1, 55W, Sister Grace, Inc.
Racine, WI: W251BU/98.1, 55W, Sister Grace, Inc. (11/18/2013)
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:Muscatine/Davenport, IA: K295CA/106.9, 250W, Radio Assist Ministry. Clear Channel's WLLR listed as primary station.
Houlton, WI/Stillwater, MN: W285EV/104.9, 250W, Clear Channel. KQQL listed as primary station; community of license listed as "Houlton, MN," though Houlton is actually in Wisconsin.
Roseau, MN: K239BU/95.7, 225W, Minnesota Public Radio. KRXW listed as primary station.
Eau Claire, WI: W286CK/105.1, 250W, Edgewater Broadcasting. WVCF listed as primary station.
Manitowoc, WI: W278BQ/103.5, 250W, Sister Grace, Inc. WPJP listed as primary station.
Shorewood/Milwaukee, WI: W264CT/100.7, 104W, Clear Channel. This is an unusual situation: Co-channel WKKV is listed as the primary station to be delivered via microwave. Though this type of facility would usually be applied for as a booster, Clear Channel chose to apply for it as a translator instead, citing a California situation in which such a setup was allowed. In that case, the translator extended slightly beyond the primary station's contour, but that's not the case in this setup; W264CT will be entirely within WKKV's coverage area. (11/11/2013)
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)
It's the end of an era in "KOTA Territory:" Duhamel Broadcasting is selling ABC affiliate KOTA-TV/3.1 (Rapid City) and its three satellite stations to Schurz Communications for an undisclosed price. The Duhamel family has owned the TV station, western South Dakota's first, since it signed on in 1955. Duhamel Broadcasting also operates a group of five radio stations in Rapid City which it is retaining; Schurz already owns a competing group of six radio stations in the market. Schurz, based in Indiana, also owns or operates eight TV stations in markets outside the Upper Midwest. The sale includes KOTA-TV satellites KDUH/4.1 (Scottsbluff, NE), KHSD/11.1 (Lead, SD), and KSGW/12.1 (Sheridan, WY). The stations carry Me-TV on their .2 channels and ThisTV on .3. (10/31/2013)
Radio Plus Bay Cities LLC is buying Armada Media's Marinette-Menominee cluster for $1.9 million. The group includes "SportsRadio 570" (WMAM Marinette), News/Talk WAGN/1340 (Menominee), "Cat Country 95.1" (WLST Marinette), Adult Contemporary "Q96.3" (WSFQ Peshtigo), and Oldies WHYB/103.7 (Menominee). Radio Plus Bay Cities is headed by Chris Bernier of Fond du Lac, who is a minority owner of Armada Media. Bernier owns 66 percent of Radio Plus Bay Cities while Adam Bernier of Eden Prairie, MN owns 33 percent and Terrence Holzmann of Fond du Lac owns 1 percent. Chris Bernier and Holzmann are principals of companies that own four radio stations in the Fond du Lac area. Armada retains its groups in South Dakota, western Minnesota, Nebraska, and Colorado, which include 21 owned stations and 8 stations being operated under a local marketing agreement. (10/31/2013)
WKSH/1640 (Sussex-Milwaukee) has apparently gone silent again after a brief return to the airwaves. The station was heard Oct. 29 and early Oct. 30 with a short loop of show tunes and easy listening selections, using only a "WKSH Sussex" legal ID between each song. It appeared the station had left the air again by the evening of Oct. 30. Disney first took the former Radio Disney station off the air Sept. 28 as it seeks a buyer. No sale has been announced or filed with the FCC. The reason for WKSH's brief return is not immediately clear, but it is worth noting that the FCC has not yet acted on the station's request for special temporary authority to remain silent amid the backlog following the federal government shutdown. (10/29/2013, updated 10/30)
CBS and FOX affiliate KEYC/12 (Mankato) is back on DISH Network. KEYC's two channels were off DISH for two weeks and returned last Friday (10/25). KEYC had reported that the dispute centered not around money, but around contract language which the station said would violate copyrights for network programming. There is no word how that dispute was resolved. DISH's package for the four-county Mankato market also includes Minneapolis stations KSTP-ABC and KARE-NBC and a national feed of PBS.
Elsewhere, disputes continue between DISH Network and FOX affiliate KTTW/7 (Sioux Falls) and between DirecTV and ABC affiliate KLKN/8 (Lincoln). (10/29/2013)
The last analog TV station in the Twin Cities is one step closer to entering the digital world. The FCC has granted Univision affiliate WUMN-LP/13 a construction permit for a 15kW digital facility on channel 17. 17 was the former analog home of Twin Cities Public Television station KTCI, which now transmits on channel 23 and remaps to channel 2.3 but is still carried on channel 17 on satellite. WUMN-LP is owned by Media Vista Minneapolis. (10/29/2013)
NEW FM TRANSLATORS GRANTED:Iowa City/Cedar Rapids, IA: K286BY/105.1, 250W, Edgewater Broadcasting. Clear Channel's KKRQ/100.7 (Iowa City) listed as primary station.
Ishpeming, MI: W248BU/97.5, 10W, Family Educ. Broadcasting Corp. of Door County. WNLI/88.7 (Sturgeon Bay) listed as primary station.
Bloomer, WI: W269CQ/101.7, 200W, David M. Stout. Mid-West Management's WAYY/790 (Eau Claire) listed as primary station.
Chippewa Falls/Eau Claire, WI: W272CY/102.3, 250W, David M. Stout. Mid-West Management's WEAQ/1150 (Chippewa Falls) listed as primary station.
Milwaukee (north), WI: W262CJ/100.3, 12W, Mary Medicus. Educational Media Foundation's WLVE/105.3 (Mukwonago) listed as primary station. (10/28/2013)
The owners of an FM station in the Willmar market are buying the AM-FM combo in Benson. Headwaters Media, LLC will pay Quest Broadcasting $275,000 for KBMO/1290 and KSCR-FM/93.5, which were last known to carry Soft Oldies and Classic Hits formats, respectively. The buyers are already operating the stations under a local marketing agreement. Headwaters Media is owned by Justin Klinghagen and John Jennings and also owns 94.1 "The Loon" (KKLN Atwater-Willmar). Quest's Paul Estenson agreed to a five-year non-compete clause as part of the sale. (10/28/2013)
CFNO-FM/93.1 (Marathon) has applied to add a rebroadcasting transmitter in Beardmore, a former township within the municipality of Greenstone. CFNO-FM-3 would use 260 Watts on 107.1 and would reach an estimated 246 people at a construction cost of $22,500. CFNO already has rebroadcasters in Geraldton, Longlac, and Nakina, which are also within Greenstone, as well as Hornepayne, Nipigon, and White River. The station says it received a request from Greenstone leaders to add a transmitter in Beardmore and cites the rupture of a pipeline a few years ago that caused evacuations near Beardmore as evidence that a local transmitter is needed. The Beardmore transmitter would not originate any of its own programming but would carry emergency announcements via CFNO. CFNO also has a pending application to move its studio to Thunder Bay, where sister company Dougall Media owns other stations, and said in that application that staff in Thunder Bay would continue to provide local news and emergency bulletins to the CFNO listening area. (10/28/2013)
Canadian regulators have approved a downgrade for CBC Radio One's station in Wawa, which is on the eastern side of Lake Superior. CBLJ-FM/88.3 will drop from 5kW to 4.807kW but raise its antenna height above average terrain from 115m to 133m, downgrading from class B to B1. The CBC stated the downgrade was necessary due to budget reductions. CBLJ is a rebroadcaster of CBCS-FM (Sudbury). (10/28/2013)
New Catholic radio station KSTJ/91.3 (Hartford-Sioux Falls) has or will soon sign on. The station posted pictures of its tower construction and antenna installation on its Facebook page and applied for a license to cover last week. KSTJ's 41kW/221m signal rimshots Sioux Falls and Mitchell. It carries programming from EWTN Radio in a simulcast with KSJP/88.9 (Ipswich-Aberdeen); KSTJ is owned by the Catholic Chancery Office while KSJP is owned by Agnus Dei Communications. (10/28/2013)
Christian station WRVM has signed on transltors W226BM/93.1 (Wisconsin Rapids) and W265CR/100.9 (Nekoosa). W226BM uses uses 250 Watts and W265CR uses 120 Watts. WRVM is now heard on four full-power stations and 26 tanslators in northeastern and central Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula, with construction permits for several more translators. (10/28/2013)
Longtime Farm/Country station KEYZ/660 (Williston) has switched most of its schedule to syndicated talk. The station dropped its longtime "Keyz Country" slogan and added several syndicated shows this week, including Joel Heitkamp from 9 to 11 a.m., Sean Hannity from 2 to 5 p.m., Dennis Miller from 6 to 9 p.m., Jim Bohannon from 9 p.m. to Midnight and 5 to 6 a.m., and Coast to Coast AM overnight. The station, which is an ABC News affiliate, runs seven hours of local programming each weekday and continues to play Classic Country on the weekend. The change comes as the area's economy becomes dominated by the oil industry rather than agriculture. KEYZ's 5kW signal can easily be heard across western North Dakota, eastern Montana, northwestern South Dakota, and southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba during the day. Sister station KYYZ/96.1 (Williston) carries a Country format. (10/25/2013)
KXVO/15.2 (Omaha) has dropped Azteca America and is now carrying This TV, which is also seen 22 hours per day on sister station KPTM/42.2. KPTM-DT2 carries My Network TV from 7 to 9 p.m., the only hours the programming service is available. 15.1 is a primary CW affiliate while 42.1 is a primary FOX affiliate and "Estrella TV" is carried on 42.3. (10/25/2013)
Educational Media Foundation, the operator of the Christian "K-Love" and "Air1" music networks, is buying two stations in northeastern Wisconsin and seven translators in Wisconsin and Michigan. EMF will pay Bethesda Christian Broadcasting $825,000 for WNLI/88.7 and WPFF/90.5 (Sturgeon Bay) and translators in Appleton and Sheboygan, WI (two translators), and Escanaba, Iron Mountain, Ishpeming, and Marquette, MI. The Family Educational Broadcasting Corp. of Door County first signed on WPFF in 1992 and added WNLI in 1999. The stations were sold to Bethesda Christian Broadcasting, which has most of its holdings in South Dakota, in 2007. (10/23/2013)
The purchase price for Cyrus Capital Partners' purchase of controlling interest in NRG Media is $70 million, according to paperwork filed with the FCC. Waitt Media Holdings is selling its 79.74 percent stake in the Cedar Rapids-based company to funds held by Cyrus, which are ultimately owned by Stephen Freidheim of New York. The full ownership structure is detailed here. Quass Communications, LLC, James T. Smith, and Charles DuCoty maintain minority ownership in NRG Media, which owns seven stations in Illinois, six in Iowa, sixteen in Nebraska, and thirteen in Wisconsin. (10/22/2013)
Federal regulators are considering a change to aircraft communications that could allow a new FM station to sign on in the Omaha market. KIMI/107.7 (Sidney, IA) has been prevented from firing up its full 50kW ERP facility rimshotting Omaha due to concerns about interference to airplane communications (see below for more details). Now, the Kona Coast Radio station says in a new filing with the FCC that the Federal Aviation Administration is considering changing the Instrument Landing System frequency at Offut Air Force Base to avoid interference from KIMI. The station is seeking special temporary authority to remain silent until the changes are made. The day before the government shutdown, the FCC approved an STA for KIMI to broadcast with 500 Watts so it could return to the air before the Oct. 3 deadline to keep its license as a previous STA expired, but KIMI went silent again Oct. 8 at the FAA's request. (10/21/2013)
NEW FM TRANSLATORS GRANTED:Knoxville/suburban Des Moines, IA: K279BX/103.7, 250W, Edgewater Broadcasting. Clear Channel's KDRB/100.3 (Des Moines) listed as primary station on application.
Escanaba, MI: W229BP/93.7, 27W, Family Educational Broadcasting Corp.
Bloomer/Eau Claire, WI: W276CP/103.1, 177W, Edgewater Broadcasting. Clear Channel's WMEQ/880 (Menomonie-Eau Claire) listed as primary station on application. (10/21/2013)
Canadian regulators have approved downgrades for CBC/Radio-Canada's two stations in Fort Frances, which also reach part of far northern Minnesota. CBC Radio One station CBQQ-FM/90.5 will drop from 50kW to 25kW and Radio-Canada Première station CKSB-9-FM/89.1 will drop from 50kW to 5.62kW. CBC/Radio-Canada said the reductions are necessary to reduce operating costs. In OK'ing the power drops, the CRTC noted that most of the listeners who may lose reception are in the U.S. CBQQ programming mostly originates from CBQT/88.3 (Thunder Bay), while CKSB-9-FM is a secondary transmitter of CKSB/1050 (St. Boniface-Winnipeg, MB). (10/21/2013)
ABC affiliate KLKN/8 (Lincoln) left DirecTV due to a retransmission consent dispute at midnight Oct. 17/18. KLKN says the dispute is not only over money but also over digital rights, which KLKN says it does not have the right to grant from ABC or program syndicators. CBS/FOX affiliate KEYC/12 (Mankato, MN) has also cited a digital rights issue in its current dispute with DISH Network. Due to the unusual situation of two separately-owned ABC affiliates existing in the Lincoln-Tri Cities market, DirecTV customers still have access to ABC programming from KHGI/13 (Kearney); strangely, the situation was reversed during a 2012 dispute when KHGI was off DirecTV but KLKN remained. Retransmission consent disputes also took KLKN off DISH Network briefly in 2008 and Time Warner Cable briefly in 2010. (10/18/2013)
With the federal government shutdown ending and FCC databases coming back online, we can now see one of the last applications filed before the Commission closed on Oct. 1. Wayne Radio Works, LLC is buying the construction permit for new translator K255CK/98.9 (West Point) from VSS Catholic Communications for $15,000. Wayne Radio Works owns two stations in Wayne, but the translator would have to be moved before it could rebroadcast either of them. The CP's 170-Watt coverage area is in the West Point region. (10/16/2013)
Midwest Communications has announced plans to swap two formats in Sioux Falls with its Country format moving to a stronger signal. On Oct. 28, KTWB will move to 92.5 as "Big Country" while Adult Contemporary-formatted KELO-FM will move to 101.9 and drop the longtime "Lite" moniker in favor of simply frequency and callsign. 92.5 is one of the strongest FM stations in the Upper Midwest, using 100kW/555m (class C), while 101.9 uses 34kW/177m (class C2). Meanwhile, KELO-FM also announced that it would go all-Christmas on Thanksgiving Day. (10/16/2013)
A correction on the new format at WLKX/95.9 (Forest Lake-Minneapolis): Rather than Spanish Christian as had been reported on the cusp of the change last month, WLKX is running a mix of Regional Mexican and Tropical as "La Neta" and streaming online at lanetaradio.com. "La Neta" is programmed separately from co-owned KBGY/107.5 (Faribault), which runs a similar format as "La Mera Buena." WLKX's signal is strong in the far northeastern suburbs while KBGY's is strong in the far southern suburbs; both stations have fringe signals to Minneapolis and St. Paul and simulcast Spanish-language Twins broadcasts. WLKX continues to carry some English-language programming on the weekends in simulcast with co-owned stations in the region, including North Dakota State University Bison football and "Bear Facts and Fish Tales" Sunday nights from 7 to 9. The station had carried an english-language Christian format since 1995, first as "Spirit 95.9" and then "Hope 95.9." "Hope" programming continues on the HD2 signal of sister station KLCI/106.1 (Elk River-Minneapolis). (10/14/2013)
Mankato's only two local channels are off DISH Network due to a dispute with United Communications, which operates CBS and FOX affiliate KEYC. The station says it actually did reach a new retransmission consent agreement with DISH in July, but that DISH later demanded contract language which KEYC says would violate copyrights for network programming. DISH's package for the four-county Mankato market also includes Minneapolis stations KSTP-ABC and KARE-NBC and a national feed of PBS. (10/11/2013)
Regulators have approved a format tweak for "The Breeze" CFJL-FM/100.7 (Winnipeg). The Evanov Communications station will adjust its format to Light Adult Contemporary targetting listeners 45+ after the CRTC agreed to drop requirements that CFJL carry a specialty music format and play no more than 70 percent popular music. No one submitted an intervention opposing the change. The CRTC found CFJL had shown the economic need for the change and that it would not have a negative effect on other stations in the market. BBM ratings show CFJL is the lowest-rated station in Winnipeg, though its share more than doubled from the fall (September 3-October 28, 2012) to the spring ratings period (March 4-April 28) from 0.9 to 2.1. The current format has been among the lowest-rated of the five formats the station has run since signing on in 2002. (10/11/2013)
IOWA/NEBRASKA/WISCONSIN:An affiliate of Digity, LLC, is buying NextMedia, which has a 33-station group including WLIP/1050 (Kenosha, WI) and WIIL/95.1 (Union Grove, WI). Digity is associated with Palm Beach Broadcasting LLC and GoodRadio.TV, which owns six stations in Iowa.
In case you missed it, ownership of two radio groups with holdings in the Upper Midwest is changing in deals announced this week:
Waitt Company and McCarthy Capital are selling their interest in NRG Media to funds affiliated with Cyrus Capital Partners. NRG is based in Cedar Rapids and owns seven stations in Illinois, six in Iowa, sixteen in Nebraska, and thirteen in Wisconsin.
Terms were not disclosed for either sale but will likely become available in FCC filings once the federal government reopens. (10/10/2013)
Former KMSP-TV anchor Rod Grams, who went on to become a U.S. Representative and then a U.S. Senator, has died at age 65. The Star Tribune reports he died Tuesday evening (10/8) after a battle with cancer. Besides KMSP, Grams' two-decade broadcast career included work in Montana, Wausau, and Rockford. Grams served in the U.S. House from 1993 to 1995 and the U.S. Senate from 1995 to 2001 as a Republican. He and his wife own the Little Falls Radio Corporation, which owns KLTF/960, WYRQ/92.1, and KFML/94.1. (10/9/2013)
Wisconsin Public Radio could be ready to sign on another new station in the Chequamegon Bay area by the end of the year, marking the end of a two-decade effort to improve reception in the popular vacation area. Antenna installation is scheduled for this week for WHWA/104.7 (Washburn), which will carry the NPR News & Classical Music network with 17.5kW/184m (class C2) from a tower west of Washburn. WHWA will replace 38-Watt WPR translator W284AN/104.7 (Ashland). The sign-on of WHWA will mark the end of the "Clear Signal" campaign, which launched after the sign-on of a new commercial station in Ashland led to intermodulation that interfered with fringe reception of other regional WPR signals. The effort initially spawned two translators, one of which was replaced by the sign-on of Ideas Network station WUWS/90.9 (Ashland) last year. The former Ideas Network translator was moved from 102.9 to 102.3 and switched to 24-hour Classical from WHSA-HD2. (The translator had to vacate 102.9 to make way for future station WRNC/102.9.) WPR plans to return W284AN's license since there is no suitable frequency for a relocation. (10/8/2013)
WECL/92.9 (Elk Mound-Eau Claire) has switched from Classic Rock to Active Rock as "The X," filling a void in the market that had been left since sister station WDRK/99.9 (Cornell-Eau Claire) flipped from Active Rock to Variety Hits three years ago. "The X" debuted Monday (10/7) after a weekend of stunting with all-Metallica. The change follows Mid-West Family Broadcasting's purchase of WECL and five other stations in the Eau Claire market from Maverick Media. WECL had carried Classic Rock for nine years, most recently as "The Big Cheese." Mid-West has a long-running Active Rocker in the Madison market, WJJO/94.1 (Watertown-Madison). (10/7/2013)
KWLM/1340 (Willmar) reports that one of its early leaders, Bill Linder, has died. Linder first started at the station, which his father founded, in 1940 and worked with his father and brother to build the Linder Radio Group. The family now owns stations in the Willmar, Marshall, Mankato, and Owatonna markets and the Linder Farm Network. Bill Linder was inducted as a charter member of the Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame