Meanwhile, as previously reported, Northern Lights has reserved the KZGO callsign for KNOF and purchased domain names that suggest the "Go" Adult Alternative format could be moving to 95.3 from KTWN-FM/96.3 (Edina-Minneapolis), leaving 96.3 open for a new format. KTWN-FM has been heard testing HD subchannels, one of which will carry "Praise" programming displaced from KNOF. (11/24/2015)
St. Paul, MN: KENL-LP/98.1, owned by Enlace Adventista and carrying a Spanish Christian format from a transmitter in southern Maplewood.
St. Paul, MN: WEQY-LP/104.7, owned by the Dayton's Bluff District Four Community Council and known as "East Side Community Radio."
Two Harbors, MN: KTWH-LP/99.5, owned by Two Harbors Community Radio with a Community/Variety format.
Stevens Point, WI: WSNP-LP/105.9, owned by the City of Stevens Point and carrying recordings of meetings and other programs produced by the city. A variety of music airs at other times. (11/16/2015)
Rapid City, SD: KKQZ-LP/92.7, Western Dakota Technical Institute, 100W (11/16/2015)
WTIQ/1490 (Manistique) has dropped Classic Hits in favor of Classic Country as "The Maverick." The change, first reported by DX-midAMerica, comes seven months after Armada Media sister company AMC Partners Escanaba closed on its purchase of WTIQ and four stations in the Escanaba market from Lakes Radio/Radio Results Network. (11/16/2015)
The Nebraska Rural Radio Association is buying translator K282BE/104.3 (Hastings) from Radio 74 Internationale for $17,500. K282BE is currently licensed to transmit from a site west of Hastings but the asset purchase agreement says the buyer will not be able to use that site. The application lists a non-commercial station to be rebroadcast, for now, on K282BE. As previously reported, the Nebraska Rural Radio Association is also in the process of buying K295BI/106.9 (Kearney) from Radio 74 Internationale. The original application said K295BI would relay the Association's KRVN/880 (Lexington), but it has since been amended to list KRVN-FM/93.1 (Lexington) as the primary station. (11/14/2015)
The FCC has granted Horizon Christian Fellowship a construction permit for a new translator station on 99.5 in Sioux Falls, dismissing an informal objection from Powell Broadcasting's KKMA/99.5 (Le Mars-Sioux City, IA). Powell had submitted a declaration from a Sioux Falls radio engineer who said he listens to KKMA and feared the new translator will prevent reception of the station. The FCC's Audio Division rejected Powell's informal objection, saying the company had failed to provide any "convincing evidence" of KKMA listenership within the translator's proposed main coverage area. The new translator, K258CU, will still have to respond to interference complaints from KKMA listeners once it signs on. It will use 10 Watts from a site on the southern edge of the city. (11/12/2015)
WBAY-TV (Green Bay) has added Ion Television on channel 2.3, becoming the second Media General station in the Upper Midwest to add Ion on a subchannel. As previously reported, Media General's KWQC/6.2 (Davenport) also recently began carrying Ion. The launch of Ion on Media General subchannels seems to be a change in strategy for Ion, which previously relied almost exclusively on its owned-and-operated stations for broadcast distribution and was only carried on a subchannel in two markets. WBAY/2.3 had carried Live Well Network until the service ended national distribution earlier this year; WBAY is a primary ABC affiliate and also carries weather programming on 2.2. (11/11/2015)
WBWT-LP, the last analog TV station in Milwaukee, recently converted to digital operations and has changed its callsign to WTSJ-LD. It continues to carry MundoMax on channel 38.1 and has added Azteca America on 38.2, a network the station had carried before switching to MundoFOX (now MundoMax) several years ago. The station was recently sold to DTV America Corp.
In other Milwaukee DTV news, WTMJ-TV has switched channel 4.2 from weather programming to Laff. The station carries NBC on 4.1 and Cozi TV on 4.3.(11/11/2015)
KRDK-TV (Valley City-Fargo) has added Comet TV on channel 4.3, joining nine other channels available from the station. It also carries Cozi TV, BEK Sports, Decades, Movies!, Grit, Escape, Laff, H&I, and Buzzr. KRDK, which was formerly CBS affiliate KXJB-TV, is owned by Ravi Kapur's Major Market Broadcasting. (11/11/2015)
One of the parent organizations of Wisconsin Public Radio is buying an FM translator to carry the Ideas Network in the Auburndale/Marshfield area. The Wisconsin Educational Communications Board will pay Edgewater Broadcasting $24,500 for W262AX/100.3 (Marshfield), which the application says will relay Ideas Network station WLBL/930 (Auburndale). W262AX is currently licensed for 250 Watts from a site in Marshfield but the application includes a map suggesting that it will apply to move to WLBL's tower site. (11/10/2015)
An FCC public notice says Northern Lights Broadcasting has requested KZGO as a new callsign for KNOF/95.3 (St. Paul), suggesting the company may move its "Go" Adult Alternative format from KTWN-FM/96.3 (Edina-Minneapolis) once its purchase of 95.3 is complete. The company registered go953.com and two similar domains a month ago in a move reported by RadioInsight. 95.3 uses less wattage than 96.3 but has a stronger signal to downtown Minneapolis due to its transmitter location at the IDS Center; 96.3 transmits from New Hope in the northwest metro. Northern Lights is awaiting FCC approval to buy KNOF, a longtime Christian outlet, from Praise Broadcasting for $7.95 million. The company has committed to carrying Praise programming on KTWN-FM-HD2 as part of the sale. (11/9/2015)
Family Life Broadcasting is buying 10-Watt translator W256BE/99.1 (Lancaster) from Edgewater Broadcasting for $24,000. Family Life also owns Christian station WJTY/88.1 (Lancaster) and states W256BE will relay WJTY, which already delivers a strong signal to W256BE's coverage area. The translator's current status is unknown. (11/9/2015)
The KSKK Adult Contemporary format has returned to 94.7 in the Staples/Wadena area, though on a much weaker signal than before. The former KSKK/94.7 (Staples) went silent in June after De La Hunt Broadcasting sold the license to James Ingstad's Radio Fargo-Moorhead, which moved it west to become KDLB/94.5 (Frazee-Detroit Lakes). De La Hunt then moved KSKK's AC format to the former KVKK/1070 (Verndale), which changed its callsign to KSKK and began being relayed on K234CQ/94.7 (Staples) last week. The translator was moved south from Park Rapids, where it was originally on 104.9. K234CQ transmits with 250 Watts from the KVKK tower near Aldrich, with Staples and Wadena both on the edge of its main coverage area. The previous KSKK/94.7 had used 50kW. (11/8/2015)
Heartland Christian Broadcasters has signed on 250-Watt translator W224CG/92.7 (Deer River) Carrying its "Psalm FM" network, which originates on KBHW/99.5 (International Falls). It's the 12th translator for "Psalm FM," which is also heard on KADU/90.1 (Hibbing). (11/8/2015)
We now know how KKWZ/95.3 (Crary) could legally be allowed to move to Rugby: it's getting Two Rivers Broadcasting's KQZZ/96.7 (Devils Lake) to change its community of license to Crary to "backfill." Edward Paul "Butch" De La Hunt is in the process of selling KKWZ to Rugby Broadcasters, which wants the station moved 65 miles west to Rugby to pair with its existing KZZJ/1450. KKWZ would broadcast with 6kW/45m (class A) from Rugby. KQZZ would not make any actual facility change, but would have to start saying Crary in its hourly legal ID. Documents filed with the FCC do not reveal what kind of consideration Two Rivers Broadcasting is receiving for the change. A backfill is necessary because KKWZ is the only station licensed to Crary and the FCC generally doesn't approve community of license changes that remove a community's only license. KKWZ has never actually been on the air other than for testing, but the rule applies because it has received its license. (11/6/2015)
Here's a belated rundown of some of the changes to local TV news schedules this fall:
Minneapolis NBC affiliate KARE 11 plans to add a 6:30 p.m. newscast, according to a column by the Star Tribune's CJ a month ago. The newscast had shown up in some TV listings but has not yet appeared on the air. When it launches, it will compete with the established local newscast in that timeslot on ABC affiliate KSTP-TV/5. According to listings that appeared and then disappeared, KARE's new newscast will displace Entertainment Tonight from its longtime slot; ET will move earlier to 4:30, moving Jeopardy! back to a double-run in the 3:00 hour. (This item has been updated to reflect the fact that the newscast has not actually launched, as earlier listings had indicated.)
Milwaukee NBC affiliate WTMJ-TV/4 dropped its 3 p.m. newscast.
Winnipeg CBC station CBWT/6 dropped local news from the 5 p.m. hour and is now running an hour of news at 6 p.m. as part of a previously-reported national change. No other station in Manitoba carries local news at 5 p.m., which is a standard news time south of the border. CBWT's only other local newscast is a 10-minute update at 11 p.m.
Madison CBS affiliate WISC-TV/3 added an hour-long 4 p.m. newscast, competing with NBC affiliate WMTV/15's half-hour 4 p.m. newscast.
Quad Cities CBS affiliate WHBF/4 (Rock Island) added a half-hour 4 p.m. newscast, competing with NBC affiliate KWQC/6 in the time slot.
Duluth's FOX 21 (KQDS-TV) extended its morning newscast to two hours from 7 to 9 a.m. The newscast had most recently aired from 6:30 to 8 a.m. The station also extended its Sunday 9 p.m. newscast to an hour and moved its main anchors to a Sunday to Thursday schedule. (11/5/2015)
Fox Television Stations has returned the license for K30DK (Bemidji). The analog translator had previously carried FOX affiliate KMSP, which is now seen on the company's KFTC/26.1 (Bemidji). K30DK had gone silent in June 2014 after 23 years on the air relaying KMSP. (11/5/2015)
Sinclair Broadcast Group is buying Pappas Liquidating Trust's TV stations in the Lincoln-Tri Cities and North Platte markets for $31.25 million. The deal, reached at auction, includes FOX affiliate KFXL-TV/51.1 (Lincoln) and the "Nebraska TV" ABC affiliates including KHGI-TV/13.1 (Kearney), satellite KWNB-TV/6.1 (Hayes Center), KHGI-CD (North Platte), and translator stations in McCook and O'Neill. KFXL's FOX programming is also relayed on KHGI/KWNB subchannels. Even though the market does not have enough ownership voices for a duopoly, Sinclair argues it should be allowed to own both KFXL-TV and KHGI-TV because the stations' coverage areas do not overlap. Sinclair also owns FOX 42 (KPTM Omaha) and operates CW 15 (KXVO Omaha), both of which Pappas had previously run. (11/5/2015)
iHeartMedia brought Christmas to two Iowa cities on Wednesday (11/4) with all-Christmas formats debuting on "Mix 96" (KMXG/96.1 Clinton-Quad Cities) and "KG95" (KGLI/95.5 Sioux City). The flips are one day earlier than last year for KMXG and three days earlier for KGLI. Once again this year, you can track the all-Christmas flips here. (11/4/2015)
DX-midAMerica reports that W291CJ/106.1 (Marquette) has returned to the air with a Christmas format as "Gift 106." The 250-Watt translator is owned by Todd Stuart Noordyk's Great Lakes Radio. The format, originating on an HD subchannel of another Great Lakes Radio station, had also been on the air last November and December, but the translator fell silent after Christmas. It's apparently the first station in the Upper Midwest to make the permanent switch to all-Christmas this year. (11/4/2015)
After five years of consideration, the FCC has denied a Milwaukee FM translator's attempt to move to a different frequency. Ivan Rene Moore's W273AT/102.5 (Mequon-Milwaukee) left the air in January 2012 due to interference complaints from listeners of non-commercial Christian station WNWC-FM/102.5 (Madison).
The complaints had started shortly after W273AT began using a Milwaukee tower site in 2010, leading the translator to apply for a move to 93.9. The move would require a displacement waiver since the frequency change is larger than normally allowed. The FCC's Audio Division has now decided that W273AT does not qualify for a displacement waiver since WNWC-FM made no facility change and it was actually a facilty change by W273AT that brought it into conflict with WNWC-FM.
W273AT had carried an R&B format as "Majic 102.5" during its eighteen months transmitting from Milwaukee as a translator of WNOV/860 (Milwaukee), which Moore was operating at the time. The translator remains licensed to transmit from a site north of Milwaukee. (11/3/2015)
Gray TV is selling the Rushmore Media group of radio stations in Rapid City to Homeslice Media LLC for $2.5 million, reuniting Rushmore's four FM stations with the two AM stations Homeslice purchased from the group just last year. The previous sale had been a required divestiture when Schurz Communications bought ABC affiliate KOTA-TV/3.1 (Rapid City). Now, Gray is in the process of buying Schurz and is selling off all three of Schurz's radio groups nationwide. Rushmore's stations are "Hot 93.1" (KRCS Sturgis-Rapid City), "93.9 The Mix" (KKMK Rapid City), "98.7 Kat Country" (KOUT Rapid City), and "100.3 The Fox" (KFXS Rapid City), while Homeslice's stations are KBHB/810 (Sturgis) and "Smash Hits" KKLS/920 (Rapid City). Homeslice is based in Sturgis and headed by Dean Kinney. As previously reported, Gray is retaining the ABC-TV affiliation to operate alongside the FOX affiliation on its KEVN/7 (Rapid City) but the company is divesting the actual KOTA-TV license to comply with ownership rules.
In a separate transaction, Gray is selling Schurz's four-station group in South Bend, IN, to Madison-based Mid-West Family Broadcasting. The $5.5 million deal was brokered by Bob Heymann of Media Services Group. (11/2/2015)
WQXJ/104.5 (Blackduck-Bemidji) has switched to a Sports format as KBUN-FM, picking up the full "Fan" daytime lineup from KFXN-FM/100.3 (Minneapolis). Morning and afternoon drive time "Fan" programming had previously aired on KBUN/1450 and translator K235BP/94.9 (Bemidji), which are now airing ESPN Radio fulltime. KBUN-FM is airing the Minnesota Vikings, Wild, and Timberwolves, with Timberwolves games moved to the AM side when there is a conflict with the Wild. WQXJ had previously carried a Classic Hits/Oldies format. The changes happened on Oct. 26 and follow Hubbard Broadcasting's purchase of the stations. (11/1/2015)
WLTU/92.1 (Manitowoc) has flipped to "Hot Country 92.1," dropping Classic Hits/Oldies, following Lee Davis' sale of the station to Mark Seehafer. The change came at Noon on Sunday (11/1). It's the only FM Country outlet in the Manitowoc/Two Rivers market, where Seehafer now owns six stations. The group also includes AM Country, AM News/Oldies, FM Adult Contemporary, FM Easy Listening, and FM Classic Rock formats. (11/1/2015)
Sci-Fi subchannel network Comet TV is set to launch on Oct. 31 with at least eight affiliates in the Upper Midwest, all of them owned by network partner Sinclair Broadcast Group. Comet TV's initial lineup includes cult classics "Outer Limits" and "Stargate SG-1" but also six hours per day of paid programming. The network's website is listing affiliates including WCGV/24.2 (Milwaukee), WCWF/14.2 (Suring-Green Bay), WMSN/47.2 (Madison), KGAN/2.3 (Cedar Rapids), KTVO/3.3 (Kirksville-Ottumwa), KDSM/17.2 (Des Moines), KMEG/14.3 (Sioux City), and KPTM/42.3 (Omaha). It appears Comet will displace getTV in Des Moines and Madison and Estrella TV in Omaha, unless they're moving to new channels. (10/29/2015)
Media General's KWQC-TV (Davenport) says it'll begin carrying Ion TV on channel 6.2 on Nov. 1, displacing a local weather channel. The station is a primary NBC affiliate and also carries Cozi TV on channel 6.3. KWQC appears to be only the second station nationwide to carry Ion on a subchannel, and one of only a few Ion affiliates that isn't owned and operated by the network. Ion carries reruns of recent network shows. (10/29/2015)
Scripps' KMTV (Omaha) has added Laff on channel 3.3, which is a new channel for the station. Laff carries comedy movies and sitcoms from the 1990's. KMTV is a primary CBS affiliate and also carries Antenna TV on 3.2. (10/29/2015)
A belated note that KNEN/94.7 (Norfolk) has switched from Classic Rock to an information-heavy Classic Hits format as "News Channel Nebraska." The name change coincides with the launch of low-power TV station KNEN-LD/35 (Norfolk), which also uses the "News Channel Nebraska" branding. The stations are owned by Flood Communications. (10/29/2015)
Bott Communications has withdrawn its application for a new station on AM 1130 in central Nebraska, saying concerns about interference to the FCC monitoring station in Grand Island make the project "not economically feasible." The Christian broadcaster had won the frequency in a 2014 auction. It had sought a station licensed to Ravenna using 12kW daytime, 3kW critical hours, and 600 Watts nighttime with a directional antenna pattern shooting east and west, but the FCC sought changes to protect its monitoring station. Bott says the changes to protect the monitoring station would require construction of a six-tower array and the resulting facility would not reach any major population centers. Bott already has FM translators in Grand Island and Hastings and owns KCVN/104.5 (Cozad), which delivers a strong signal to Kearney and Lexington. (10/28/2015)
A northeastern Twin Cities metro area church is buying an FM signal in the southeast metro. Forest Lake's Maranatha Assembly of God Church will pay Religious Information Network $52,000 for WAJC/88.1 (Newport), which transmits from the exurb of Coates and has a main coverage area including several southeastern suburbs. WAJC simulcasts a Christian Rock format called "The Remnant," which is produced by students at the University of Northwestern-St. Paul and is simulcast on the HD4 signal of Northwestern's KTIS-FM/98.5 (Minneapolis). The format had been carried on HD subchannels of KTIS-FM prior to WAJC's sign-on in early 2013. (10/27/2015)
Edgewater Broadcasting is selling the construction permit for new translator K248CE/97.5 (Davenport) to Benjamin Shafer for $40,000. The CP calls for 41 Watts from central Davenport. Shafer, who has an address in St. Louis, is currently listed as an intern at a public radio station in Springfield, IL. (10/26/2015)
TV viewers in Rapid City may not notice any change to their channel lineup when Gray TV divests a station in the market. Though it'll be "moving" the ABC affiliation to a different station from a regulatory perspective, viewers will still find ABC on the same virtual broadcast channel and with the same callsign, according to an asset purchase agreement recently filed with the FCC. Gray TV will retain the rights to the KOTA-TV callsign and virtual channel 3.1 as part of its sale of the current KOTA-TV license to Legacy Broadcasting. The divestiture is needed because FCC rules prohibit co-ownership of both KOTA-TV, which Gray is buying as part of its purchase of Schurz Communications, and existing Gray FOX affiliate KEVN/7. The new virtual channel 3.1 could originate from either the current KEVN or new low-power station KEVN-LD, one of which will presumably take the KOTA-TV callsign.
The filing also revealed that KOTA-TV satellite KHSD/11 (Lead) will be included in the sale to Legacy, which is a change from Gray's previous statement that it would retain KHSD. Besides the KOTA-TV and KHSD licenses, which will operate under new callsigns, Legacy's purchase also includes the current KOTA-TV and KHSD transmitter sites, KOTA-TV's translator on channel 18 in Rapid City, and the rights to the MeTV and ThisTV affiliations -- all for $1.
Gray will retain current KOTA-TV satellites KSGW/12 (Sheridan, WY) and KDUH/4 (Scottsbluff, NE), but switch them to relay other Gray stations. KSGW will relay NBC affiliate KCWY/13 (Casper, WY), while KDUH will relay NBC affiliate KNOP/2 (North Platte, NE). In a revision of its original September filing, Gray now says it will apply to change KDUH's community of license to Sidney, NE, legally removing it from the Cheyenne-Scottsbluff market, where Gray already owns KGWN/5 (Cheyenne, WY) and satellite KSTF/10 (Scottsbluff, NE). Sidney is in the Denver market. KDUH would not change its transmission facility as part of the community of license change. (10/26/2015)
FCC'S AM REVITALIZATION: FINISHING THE EXPANDED BAND MOVE
As part of its AM revitalization plan, the FCC has set its sights on 25 stations that had been expected to sign off years ago, including three in the Upper Midwest: KCFI/1250 (Cedar Falls-Waterloo), KZOT/1180 (Bellevue-Omaha), and WLMV/1480 (Madison).
The stations were among those granted permits to move to the expanded band (1620-1700) during the 1990's, with the plan that the old frequency would sign off after five years. Stations were chosen to move to the expanded band based on the amount of interference that would be reduced by their old frequency leaving the air. Stations in Des Moines, Iowa City, West Fargo, and Sussex-Milwaukee were among those which surrendered their old licenses as planned, but the 25 remaining stations never voluntarily signed off.
The notice of proposed rulemaking calls for a one-year deadline, to begin at a future date, for the 25 remaining licensees to surrender either their original frequency or their expanded band station. (The expanded band counterparts of the stations listed above are KDNZ/1650 Cedar Falls, KOZN/1620 Bellevue, and WOZN/1670 Madison.)
The FCC is also asking for comments on whether there is enough room in the expanded band to add more stations without creating too much interference, and who should be allowed to apply for new stations in the expanded band. (10/23/2015)
FCC'S AM REVITALIZATION PLAN: MORE FM TRANSLATOR OPPORTUNITIES
The FCC's AM revitalization plan includes an order that creates two new opportunities for AM stations to get FM translators:
First, a filing window in 2016 will give AM stations a chance to move an existing FM translator up to 250 miles to serve as an AM-on-FM translator. Currently, such moves can be achieved with a waiver (which is limited to a shorter distance) or a lengthy chain-link "hop" consisting of a series of temporary facilities. Only class C and D stations, which are generally less powerful, will be allowed to apply for moves in the first six months, with class A and B stations joining the party for a subsequent three-month window.
Then, there will be a filing window in 2017 for new FM translator licenses, limited to AM stations that didn't get one in the 2016 window. Class C and D stations will again get first crack.
However, these windows may not be of much benefit to AM stations in major markets, where there does not appear to be room for any more FM translators with significant coverage. (10/23/2015)
FCC'S AM REVITALIZATION: STATION UPGRADES AND TRANSMITTER SITING
The FCC's AM revitalization plan includes several orders intended to help AM stations upgrade, find better transmission sites, or reduce operating costs by:
-Eliminating the "ratchet rule" that prevents facility changes for most stations unless they can show the change will reduce skywave interference. Northern Minnesota broadcaster Edward De La Hunt was one of only two commenters to support keeping the ratchet rule, arguing that it protects stations from receiving new interference from other stations, but the FCC found this was a "disproven rationale." The FCC agreed with most commenters that the benefit of upgrading a signal was greater than the cost of interference from another station that upgraded.
-Loosening requirements for a strong signal to communities of license, dropping the required daytime 5 mv/m coverage from 80 percent to 50 percent of the community, and imposing a similar 50 percent standard at night for new or modified facilities. The stated intention of the change is to allow stations greater flexibility to find tower sites and continue to serve communities that are getting physically larger. However, the move could also potentially allow some suburban or exurban stations to move their transmitters closer to larger nearby cities.
-Allowing stations to use a technology called Modulation Dependent Carrier Level, which allows newer transmitters to briefly reduce power during quiet intervals, saving money on the electric bill.
-Reducing the minimum efficiency standard for AM towers by 25 percent in an attempt to allow transmitters to be placed at more compact sites.
The plan also includes notice of proposed rulemaking on several issues, including:
-Dropping all "critical hours" protection for class A stations, which are the large 50kW blowtorches formerly known as "clear channel" stations. Critical hours are the hours after sunrise and before sunset, and about 200 stations are currently required to drop power and/or use a more restrictive antenna pattern during critical hours to avoid interference to class A stations. The requirement is particularly troublesome for stations since critical hours occur during drive time most of the year. The FCC is seeking data to show whether class A stations would really lose any listeners if critical hours protections are dropped.
-Reducing daytime contour protections for class B, C, and D stations, potentially allowing more stations to upgrade in an effort to overcome static and other manmade interference. (10/23/2015)
MINNESOTA/NORTH DAKOTA/SOUTH DAKOTA:
Red River Broadcast Co. is poised to launch classic TV channel Antenna TV in all three of its markets, according to the network's affiliate list. It lists the network as "coming soon" to KDLT/46.2 (Sioux Falls), KVRR/15.2 (Fargo), and KQDS-TV/21.2 (Duluth). KDLT, which is a primary NBC affiliate, currently carries Cozi TV on 46.2. KVRR and KQDS-TV are primary FOX affiliates and do not currently have subchannels. It's not immediately known whether Antenna TV will be carried on KDLT and KVRR's satellite stations. (10/23/2015)
Midwest Communications has brought the "Jack FM" Variety Hits format to northeastern Wisconsin, flipping WYDR/94.3 (Neenah-Appleton) from "The Drive" Classic Hits to "Jack." WYDR had carried "The Drive" for five years, mostly in a simulcast with WZDR/99.7 (Sturgeon Bay-Green Bay). 99.7 flipped to a simulcast of "Duke FM" (WGEE-FM/93.5 New London) as WDKF earlier this year. (10/23/2015)
Two of the four commercial radio stations in the Ironwood/Hurley area are getting new owners as Baroka Broadcasting buys WUPM/106.9 (Ironwood) and WHRY/1450 (Hurley) from Big G Little O, Inc. for $200,000. The buyer is headed by Jesse Baroka of Bessemer, who owns 60 percent of the company. WUPM carries an Adult Top 40 format while WHRY carries Oldies. (10/22/2015)
KLOH/1050 (Pipestone) will get an FM translator as owner Wallace Christensen buys K257FP/99.3 (Pipestone) from Refuge Media for $10,000. K257FP, which is not yet on the air, is currently permitted to transmit from a site south of town but has applied to move to the KLOH tower with 250 Watts. KLOH carries a Country format. (10/21/2015)
Santamaria Broadcasting is buying Davidson Media's KMNV/1400 (St. Paul) and KMNQ/1470 (Brooklyn Park) for $1.2 million. The buyer, headed by Maya Santamaria of Minneapolis, has been programming the stations for the past two years. They simulcast a spanish-language format as "La Raza," with KMNV serving the central part of the metro area and KMNQ serving the northern suburbs. (10/19/2015)
MAXIMUM BIDS FOR TV SPECTRUM AUCTION REVEALED:
The TV industry is taking in the details of an upcoming FCC auction that could cause major change to the broadcast TV landscape nationwide, with potential that some broadcast owners could get tens or hundreds of millions of dollars to move to inferior channels, share spectrum with another station, or take their stations off the air for good.
The FCC on Friday released the opening bids for each TV station the upcoming spectrum auction, revealing for the first time the maximum amount TV broadcasters might receive. Since it'll be a reverse auction, prices will likely go down from the opening bid. The full list came out a day after the FCC released details of the auction, which has the ultimate goal of repacking the TV band to eliminate about 20 UHF TV channels that can then be sold to wireless providers.
Stations that reach larger populations and broadcast on UHF generally have higher opening bid prices. The highest opening bids in the Upper Midwest, topping $200 million, are for large UHF stations in the Milwaukee, Madison, and Minneapolis markets. In contrast, some stations in very rural areas and those with small coverage areas are listed as "not needed" to be relinquished for the repacking to work. These include many stations in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and rural Minnesota.
There are four options: Go off the air completely, move to a VHF Low channel (2-6), move to a VHF High (7-13) channel, or share a channel with another station. (Readers should remember that many stations currently transmit on a UHF channel but remap to their former VHF channel number on DTV receivers.) Stations will have to tell the FCC during a December 1 to 18 filing window whether they are interested in participating, with the auction itself being held as soon as next spring.
TV NewsCheck reported earlier this year that Tribune, Univision, Ion, and Fox have stated their intention to sell some spectrum.
There's no way around the fact that the spectrum auction will lead to reduced broadcast TV service in several ways:
-Fewer news voices if TV stations with news departments shut down.
-The loss of programming when stations go off the air completely or have to drop multicast channels as part of a channel-sharing arrangement.
-Reduced picture quality for some networks because of channel-sharing arrangements.
-Signals that are more difficult to receive because VHF channels, especially VHF Low, are difficult to receive with indoor antennas and more suspectible to interference.
The auction will, of course, also mean job losses at stations that shut down completely. (10/19/2015)
Gray TV's WEAU/13 (Eau Claire) has made changes to its subchannel lineup, adding two networks but ending its 24-hour weather channel on 13.2. Antenna TV, formerly on 13.3, moved to 13.2, with Heroes & Icons added on 13.3 and Movies! on 13.4. WEAU is a primary NBC affiliate. (10/17/2015)
A belated note that classic game show network Buzzr debuted as expected on channel 9.4 of KMSP (Minneapolis) late last month, replacing Bounce on that channel. KMSP is a primary FOX affiliate and the addition of Buzzr is part of a national deal between Buzzr and Fox Television Stations. (10/17/2015)
KPVL/89.1 (Postville) went silent at the end of September and may never return, at least not as it had previously operated. The station had signed on in 2002 with the goal of building community in the small northeastern Iowa town, which had drawn national media coverage for tensions between longtime residents and immigrants who work at the town's meatpacking plant. However, longterm funding proved elusive. The station cites funding problems as the reason for going silent on its website but didn't mention financing in its official notification to the FCC, instead saying that the City of Postville had asked the station to remove its antenna from the water tower. KPVL had launched a studio to Decorah a few years ago but cited the poor signal to Decorah, which is outside of its 3kW signal's main coverage area, as part of its problem in attracting listeners. (10/15/2015)
Gray TV is buying several low-power TV stations in the Fargo market which could potentially be used to give a full-HD bandwidth home to the CBS programming currently seen on a subchannel of Gray NBC affiliate KVLY-TV/11 (Fargo). Gray is buying construction permits for new LPTV stations K30LT-D (Horace), K28MA-D (Argusville), and K30LR-D (Grand Forks) from Landover 2, LLC for $100,000. The Horace and Argusville CP's currently call for sites near Fargo, and the asset purchase agreement says Landover 2 will give Gray permission to file facility change application(s). CBS has been seen on channel 11.2 of KVLY-TV since last fall. (10/12/2015)
The University of Northwestern-St. Paul's KFNW/1200 (West Fargo) is operating at reduced power due to construction of an electical line near its transmitter site. The station normally uses 50kW day and 13kW night from a four-tower directional array, but tells the FCC that the electrical line construction is interfering with directional patterns. KFNW requested special temporary authority to transmit non-directionally with 10kW day and 3.25kW night until the situation is resolved. (10/12/2015)
NBC affiliate KARE/11 (Minneapolis) is back on DISH Network after a brief retransmission dispute between DISH and KARE owner Tegna, which was formerly Gannett's TV division. The outage began Friday night (10/9) and ended Sunday afternoon, affecting Tegna's top-ranked network affiliates in large and medium markets nationwide. The Minneapolis viewing area stretches west to the South Dakota border, north to Bemidji, south to Jackson and Blue Earth, and east to Menomonie and Rice Lake, Wis. KARE 11 says on its Facebook page that this is the first time it's ever been pulled from a provider in a retransmission consent dispute, but the post led to the predictable rants from upset DISH customers who blame local KARE 11 staffers for what is clearly a corporate dispute. (10/11/2015, updated 10/12)
Two AM-on-FM translators are likely for central Nebraska as the result of sales:
The Nebraska Rural Radio Association is buying K295BI/106.9 (Kearney) from Radio 74 Internationale for $22,500 to relay KRVN/880 (Lexington). K295BI is licensed for 250 Watts from a tower north of Kearney.
MWB Broadcasting II, LLC is buying K255BV/98.9 (O'Neill) from Edgewater Broadasting for $12,000. MWB owns stations in nearby Ord, including KNLV/1060, though a non-commercial station is specified in the application for now. K255BV is currently licensed for 10 Watts from O'Neill. The deal does not include any equipment, suggesting a new facility may be needed. (10/9/2015, updated 10/12 to remove incorrect reference to MWB owning KBRX)
The Des Moines Register and WHO-DT report that KBGG/1700 (Des Moines) plans to modify its format on Monday (10/12), picking up some of the Talk programming left homeless when sister Cumulus Media station KWQW/98.3 (Boone-Des Moines) flipped to Classic Hip-Hop as "The Vibe." "1700 The Champ" will become "Big 1700," carrying News/Talk programming from Midnight to Noon weekdays and Sports at other times. The current local morning show, hosted by Jim Brinson and Trent Condon, will move into the 12 to 3 p.m. slot, followed by the existing local afternoon show hosted by Marty Tirrell and Ken Miller from 3 to 6. CBS Sports Radio will continue in evenings and on weekends. The News/Talk lineup was not reported. (10/8/2015)
KBGY/107.5 (Faribault) has switched to a simulcast of co-owned Country outlet "Bob FM" (KLCI/106.1 Elk River-Minneapolis), displacing what had been the oldest spanish-language format on FM in Minnesota. KLCI's signal is strong in the northwest metro, while KBGY delivers a rimshot signal to the far southern suburbs and both stations have fringe signals to the central Twin Cities. "La Mera Buena" had launched with a Regional Mexican/Tropical format on KBGY in 2004 and continues online and on KLCI-HD4. However, many listeners gone on La Mera Buena's Facebook page to complain about not being able to receive the station -- HD Radio signals do not travel as far as analog signals, and KLCI-HD only reaches the far northwest metro. The "Bob FM" simulcast competes with two core Country signals in the Twin Cities, as well as two local Country stations in the Faribault-Owatonna area. (10/7/2015)
After six days of stunting, Townsquare Media has debuted "Sasquatch 106.5, Real Classic Rock for the Northland" on W293CT/106.5 (Duluth) and WEBC/560 (Duluth). The new format debuted Tuesday (10/6) at 1 p.m. with an announcement taking swipes at heritage Red Rock Radio Classic Rocker KQDS-FM/94.9 (Duluth). The lineup will include the syndicated Alice Cooper and Bob & Tom shows, the latter of which was previously heard on two Midwest Communications stations before being dropped last year. WEBC had dropped ESPN Radio last Wednesday as it added the W293CT simulcast, first running all-Christmas and then switching to a repeat of Bro Smith's 1976 "Bigfoot" on Monday afternoon. (10/6/2015)
Cumulus Media has brought Classic Hip-Hop to Des Moines, replacing the longtime News/Talk format on KWQW/98.3 (Boone-Des Moines) with "The Vibe." Like Minneapolis, where Cumulus also recently launched "Vibe," Des Moines has no current Hip-Hop outlet; the city didn't even have a Top 40 station for most of the 1990's, meaning this is the first time many songs on the "Vibe" playlist have run on commercial radio in central Iowa. 98.3 had launched its Talk format as "Wow FM" in 2003 and changed its name to "The Torch" last year. Its departure leaves iHeartMedia blowtorch WHO/1040 (Des Moines) as the only secular News/Talker in the capital city. (10/5/2015)
Leighton Enterprises has flipped KHME/101.1 (Winona) from Light Adult Contemporary to Classic Hits as KRIV-FM following its purchase of the station from Jerry Papenfuss. "101.1 The River, Winona's Greatest Hits" debuted Monday (10/5) after a weekend of stunting with "river" songs. KHME had carried Light AC since it launched in 1992, first as "Home 101" and then "Soft Rock 101.1." The Leighton group in Winona also has FM Hot AC, FM Country, AM Classic Country, and AM News/Talk formats and competes with La Crosse stations for listenership. (10/5/2015)
NBC/FOX affiliate WLUC/6 (Marquette) is getting a new owner as part of a swap between Sinclair Broadcast Group and Gray TV. Gray announced Thursday that it will get WLUC in exchange for WSBT/22 (South Bend, IN), which Gray is receiving as part of its purchase of Schurz Communications. Gray already owns WNDU/16 (South Bend) and will keep WNDU, with Sinclair taking over WSBT. Though the South Bend market has nearly four times the population of the Marqette market, Gray says WSBT and WLUC are roughly equal in terms of cash flow due to WLUC's dominance of the Upper Peninsula TV market. WLUC carries NBC on 6.1, FOX on 6.2, and Grit TV on 6.3. (10/1/2015)
The Black Hills' oldest TV station, KOTA-TV/3 (Rapid City), is being sold off for $1 as part of Gray TV's purchase of KOTA-TV owner Schurz Communications. Gray owns FOX affiliate KEVN/7 (Rapid City) and had already announced that it would divest KOTA-TV and move its ABC programming to KEVN, which could carry ABC on a subchannel and/or a new low-power TV station. The company announced Thursday that the KOTA-TV license, along with the rights to its MeTV and This TV channels and some property, will be sold to Legacy Broadcasting for $1. Gray and Legacy have done business in similar situations before, with Legacy taking Gray's divestiture castaways in the Bismarck and Lincoln markets last year. Gray anticipates the transactions will be completed in the fourth quarter of this year or the first quarter of next year. (10/1/2015)
City Pages: Tony Fly's rabid fans help him land DJ gig with 105 The Vibe (11/24)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Tune in to yesterday: Website archives Milwaukee's radio past (11/23)
Star Tribune: Charlie Boone, legendary WCCO radio host, dies at 88 (11/22)
Manitowoc Herald Times Review: Ex-radio DJ arrested for child porn (11/19)
New York Times: Iowa TV Gets Its Close-Up, Enjoying Outsize Influence (11/16)
Des Moines Register: KCCI news kingpin Kevin Cooney prepares to sign off (11/13)
Star Tribune: Unnamed donor gives $10 million to MPR and American Public Media (11/12)
Star Tribune/C.J.: On the Jacob Wetterling case from Day 1, Caroline Lowe is back; covering it for the competition, KARE 11 (11/10)
Quad City Times: Former newsman Doug Retherford kept tabs on community (11/10)
FierceWireless: Sinclair, CBS, Gray voice support for FCC's 600 MHz incentive auction (11/6)
The Dudek Abides: MATC Names New MPTV General Manager (11/4)
St. Paul Pioneer Press: St. Paul radio station trying to raise money for antenna, equipment (11/2)
Star Tribune: Current DJ Mary Lucia returning to the air after 7-month absence (11/2)
Milwaukee Business Journal: Country station WKTI names 'Jake & Tanner' as morning-show team (10/30)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Despite slide, WRIT-FM maintains lead in Milwaukee ratings race (10/30)
Madison 365: Radio Más que Música: Celebrating 15 years, La Movida Radio entertains, informs and creates connections (10/23)
Star Tribune: WCCO's Mark Rosen is the last of the red-hot sportscasters (10/30)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Bonnie Petrie, battling vocal disorder, leaving anchor gig at WTMJ-AM (10/28)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: AT&T U-Verse, WITI-TV parent Tribune reach retransmission deal (10/26)
St. Paul Pioneer Press: BT Turner, Jason Nagel fired from Go 96.3 (10/23)
WDAY: Talk radio's Mike McFeely returning to 970 WDAY and The Forum (10/20)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Retransmission talks continue between U-Verse, Channel 6 owner (10/19)
St. Paul Pioneer Press: 89.3 The Current DJ leaves, says brain injury made work difficult (10/16)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Longtime Milwaukee Public TV general manager to retire (10/15)
Des Moines Register: Political ad onslaught has only just begun (10/13)
Star Tribune: Paul Douglas: Talking about climate change 'not good for my television career' (10/12)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Tom Murray leaves TV news behind for ministry (10/12)
Twin Cities Business: MPR's Florida Boondoggle (9/30)
West Central Tribune: Celebrating 75 years of local radio (9/29)
St. Paul Pioneer Press: Twin Cities Public Television's Lowertown studios take on new dimension (9/28)
Sioux City Journal: From punk to Christian to 'dad rock,' Morningside College radio is making waves on the FM dial (9/26)
Current: With Keillor moving on, stations ponder future with a changing 'Prairie Home' (9/22)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: WTMJ-TV to drop 3 p.m. newscast, add syndicated talk show (9/10)
St. Paul Pioneer Press: Paul Douglas among Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame inductees (9/8)
Milwaukee Business Journal: Bill Hurwitz retiring from Milwaukee Radio Alliance, says stations still not for sale (9/3)
The Dudek Abides: Milwaukee radio ratings for August (9/3)
Star Tribune: WCCO news anchor Mike Binkley bowing out of TV after 34 years (9/2)