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A new
FCC filing indicates the price of R&J Broadcasting's previously-reported purchase of eight Red Rock Radio stations in the Brainerd, Aitkin, and International Falls area is $1.185 million. (See the 9/16 item for complete list of stations.) R&J, owned by Jimmy Birkemeyer of Ada, is already operating the stations under a local programming and marketing agreement. This is one of four Red Rock Radio sales in progress; the company is also awaiting FCC approval to sell five northeastern Minnesota stations to Midwest Communications for $5.625 million and two in Pine City to Q Media Group for $300,000, and has received FCC approval for the sale of five northwestern Wisconsin stations to Zoe Communications for $750,000. (9/26/2016)

Catching up on developments in the world of FM translators, the following construction permits were granted last week under the current filing window for long-distance moves:

  • Des Moines, IA: KRNT/1350, 102.1, 99W
  • Beatrice, NE: KWBE/1450, 94.7, 250W

The following new application was filed last week:

  • La Crosse, WI: WKTY/580, 96.7, 250W

The following translators are now on the air:

  • Waverly, IA: KWAY/1470, 96.3, 250W
  • Fosston, MN: KKCQ/1480, 99.7, 250W
  • Princeton, MN: WQPM/1300, 107.5, 250W (having moved from 106.9 and 103.3)
  • Waseca, MN: KOWZ/1170, 106.3, 250W
  • Black River Falls, WI: WWIS/1260, 105.3, 250W
  • Viroqua, WI: WVRQ/1360, 107.3, 250W

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. (9/25/2016)

The purchase price for the previously-reported sale of Red Rock Radio's AM-FM combo in Pine City is $300,000, according to an asset purchase agreement filed with the FCC. The buyer, Alan Quarmstrom's Q Media group, is already operating WCMP/1350 and WCMP-FM/100.9 under a local programming and marketing agreement that took effect Sept. 14. Meanwhile, the previously-reported deal to sell eight Red Rock stations based in Brainerd, Aitkin, and International Falls to R&J Broadcasting had not yet been filed with the FCC as of Wednesday night. The sale of five northeastern Minnesota Red Rock stations to Midwest Communications is awaiting approval, while the sale of five northwestern Wisconsin Red Rock stations to Zoe Communications was approved last week. Red Rock has three stations in Duluth and one in Deer River remaining. (9/22/2016)

WHSM/910 (Hayward) has dropped Sports for light pop hits of the 1960's to 1980's. The change follows Zoe Communications' purchase of the station, and four others in northwestern Wisconsin, from Red Rock Radio. The new format may find fans among those who listened to the Soft Oldies format the station ran from 1999 to 2014. It had most recently been carrying the Minneapolis-based "Fan" network and NBC Sports Radio. Meanwhile, "Muskie 101" (WHSM-FM/101.1 Hayward) continues to carry a Country format, but it's now locally-originated instead of being satellite-fed. (9/20/2016)

Educational Media Foundation's KLFG/89.5 (Fort Dodge) has applied for an upgrade to cover more of north-central Iowa. Currently using 17kW/111m (class C3), the station would move to the KTIN-TV tower near Bradgate and transmit with 30kW/287m (class C1). KLFG carries EMF's "K-Love" Contemporary Christian network. (9/20/2016)

As it awaits FCC approval of its purchase of KFKX/90.1 (Hastings) from Hastings College, Community Broadcasting is planning a bigger signal for the station. It has applied to move to 89.9 and use 16kW/99m (class C3) from a tower closer to Grand Island. Community Broadcasting operates the Bott Radio Network and has translators in Hastings and Grand Island, but reached a deal to sell the Hastings translator to Legacy Broadcasting. (9/20/2016)

Mississippi Valley Broadcasters' "Kicks 106.3" (WQCC La Crosse) is operating at about half power due to storm damage. According to a request for special temporary authority filed with the FCC, WQCC's transmitter site was struck by lightning on July 21. When the transmitter was fired up with a rebuilt tube, another part failed. The filing says WQCC is operating at about 50 percent of its normal power. The station is licensed for 18kW/118m (class C3). (9/20/2016)

Gray Television's WSAW/7 (Wausau) is asking the FCC to order satellite providers to extend its CBS and FOX channels into two northern Wisconsin counties that are part of the Duluth-Superior market.

The 379-page petition for special relief (part 1, part 2) indicates WSAW has already asked DirecTV and DISH Network to add its signal to customers in Ashland and Iron counties, but the providers have declined carriage based on concerns that the spotbeam carrying the Wausau-market stations is not strong enough in portions of the two counties.

WSAW is now asking the FCC to make a satellite market modification, as allowed by the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization (STELAR) Act of 2014. The provision allows stations' satellite markets to be expanded to include "orphan counties," which are counties that are part of out-of-state TV markets. However, it remains to be seen if WSAW's argument will be successful in this case since Duluth-Superior NBC/CBS affiliate KBJR-TV is licensed to Superior, Wisconsin, and already carries a significant amount of Wisconsin news, sports, and weather programming, as do the market's ABC and FOX affiliates. (For full disclosure, your reporter is employed by the ABC affiliate, WDIO.)

The issue is largely driven by the decades-old conflict between Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers telecasts that exists in thirteen Wisconsin counties covered by the Duluth-Superior and Minneapolis-St. Paul markets. This season, four of the 16 regular-season Packers games will not be seen on Duluth-Superior and Minneapolis-St. Paul stations because the games are at the same time as the Vikings. (The games are available through the $270 Sunday Ticket package.) However, it's not likely that WSAW's reach would be extended before the end of the current season because the FCC has 120 days to consider the petition. (9/19/2016)

R&J Broadcasting and Q Media Properties are buying a total of ten radio stations from Red Rock Radio, which already has pending deals to sell ten other stations. The latest deals were announced Friday by broker Kalil & Co.; purchase prices have not yet been disclosed.

R&J is buying eight Red Rock stations based in Brainerd, Aitkin, and International Falls. They include: Sports WWWI/1270 (Baxter-Brainerd), Classic Rocker WWWI-FM/95.9 (Pillager-Brainerd), "Talk 100" (KLKS/100.1 Pequot Lakes-Brainerd), Sports KKIN/930 (Aitkin), Classic Country KKIN-FM/94.3 (Aitkin), "101.5 Jack FM" (KFGI Crosby-Aitkin-Brainerd), Oldies KGHS/1230 (International Falls), and Country "KS104" (KSDM/104.1 International Falls). R&J owns four radio stations in northwestern Minnesota.

Meanwhile, Alan Quarnstrom's Q Media Properties is buying Soft Oldies WCMP/1350 (Pine City) and "Cool Country" WCMP-FM/100.9 (Pine City). Quarnstrom had owned the stations from 2001 until 2007, when he sold them to Red Rock. He currently owns four radio stations in southeastern Minnesota.

Red Rock is also in the process of selling five stations in northeastern Minnesota to Midwest Communications and five in northwestern Wisconsin to Zoe Communications, leaving the company with three stations in Duluth (KQDS/1490, WWAX/92.1 Hermantown, and KZIO/104.3 Two Harbors) and one in Deer River (KBAJ/105.5). It's a sister company to Red River Broadcast Co., which owns the FOX TV affiliates in Duluth and Fargo and the NBC TV affiliate in Sioux Falls. (9/16/2016)

Midwest Communications has quickly found a buyer for a station it needs to divest on the Iron Range. Refuge Media will pay $96,000 for KMFG/102.9 (Nashwauk-Hibbing), which Midwest needs to drop to make way for its purchase of KGPZ/96.1 (Coleraine-Grand Rapids). Midwest was already at the market cap of four FM stations serving the Hibbing area when it reached a deal to buy KGPZ and four other northeastern Minnesota stations from Red Rock Radio last month. Duluth-based Refuge Media operates the Christian Hits "Refuge Radio" network, which has two other full-power stations and numerous translators. KMFG currently carries a Classic Rock format. The sale includes the license and transmitter, but not any studio equipment. (9/16/2016)

After just a month with four 6 p.m. TV newscasts, Duluth is about to lose one. The city got a fourth 6 p.m. newscast when Quincy's KBJR-DT2 launched "CBS3 News at 6" in early August. Now, FOX 21 (KQDS-TV) is planning to move its 6 p.m. newscast to 5:30 on Monday, Sept. 19, according the station's Facebook page. FOX 21, owned by Red River Broadcast Co., has carried a newscast at 6 p.m. since 2010. The market had a 5:30 p.m. newscast on former CBS affiliate KDLH/3 from 2005 up until this past July. (9/13/2016)

Gray's WOWT (Omaha) has added Cozi TV on channel 6.2, replacing AccuWeather and news repeats. WOWT carries NBC on 6.1 and Antenna TV on 6.3. (9/12/2016)

The CW Television Network will move from full-power primary affiliations to subchannels of big-four network affiliates in Madison and Cedar Rapids-Waterloo on Monday, Sept. 12. In Madison, Gray NBC affiliate WMTV will add CW on 15.2, with WeatherNation programming moving from 15.2 to 15.4. Syndicated programming on CW 15.2 will include rerurns of American Dad, Last Man Standing, and Rules of Engagement. Previous CW affiliate WBUW/57.1 continues as an independent station, replacing the two hours of CW prime time with TMZ Live and Dr. Phil. Meanwhile, in eastern Iowa, Quincy NBC affiliate KWWL (Waterloo) will add the CW on 7.2. The channel will apparently replace current CW affiliate KWKB/20.1 (Iowa City) on DISH Network channel 20 but will be carried on DirecTV channel 8, according to listings on the station's website. Syndicated programming on CW 7.2 will include TMZ, Jerry Springer, and Steve Harvey. ThisTV, which is being dropped from KWWL-DT2, is being picked up as KWKB's new primary affiliation. (9/11/2016)

An FM translator is currently transmitting from a tree after its tower mysteriously vanished. Radio 74 Internationale tells the FCC that it discovered on Aug. 24 that someone had removed the tower for K263AP/100.5 (Mandan), which actually transmits from a rural area south of Bismarck-Mandan. In a request for special temporary authority, the station tells the FCC it's transmitting from an eight-meter tree with 50 Watts. "The situation could continue for yet several weeks or months until either we determine exactly who removed the tower, why, and can seek its return, or...install another tower," the filing says. K263AP carries Radio 74 Internationale by relaying KJIT-LP/106.7 (Bismarck). (9/10/2016)

KBMW-FM/92.7 (Breckenridge-Wahpeton), which is the former KZDR/92.7 (Kindred-Fargo), is now on the air with an Adult Contemporary format as "B92.7." Brooke Ingstad's Radio Wahpeton Breckenridge, LLC moved the station after purchasing it from the Robert J. Ingstad's Mediactive, LLC. It's unusual for a station to move out of a rated market, but the Ingstad family's companies own a number of other stations and translators in Fargo-Moorhead. Radio Wahpeton Breckenridge, LLC also owns Country-formatted KBMW/1450 (Breckenridge), KBMW translator K232FH/94.3 (Breckenridge), and Classic Hits "Eagle 106.9" (KEGK Wahpeton-Fargo). KEGK continues to target listeners in Fargo-Moorhead. (9/10/2016)

With 92.7 no longer in use as a full-power frequency in the Fargo market, it's one of several frequencies that will soon light up with new 250-Watt signals. The FCC recently granted the three new translators after correcting an earlier mistaken approval of two translators that, it turned out, were mutually exclusive. Two applications were amended to specify different frequencies, and all three were then approved. Radio F-M Media's KQWB/1660 will be relayed on 92.7, Midwest's KFGO/790 will be relayed on 94.1, and Midwest's KVOX/740 will be relayed on 107.3. KQWB and KVOX carry Sports formats, while KFGO carries News/Talk. (9/10/2016)

There have been two additional applications for FM translators in Des Moines since the original report last month about the second window opening for FM translator moves. iHeartMedia wants a 250-Watt translator for its KXNO/1460 on 96.9, while Saga Communications is seeking a 99-Watt translator for its KRNT/1350 on 102.1. Both stations currently carry Sports formats. (9/10/2016)

Besides the Fargo applications noted above, the only other FM translator move application granted in the last two weeks is in Rapid City. KOTA/1380 will be relayed on 100.7 with 250 Watts, making it the last Rapid City AM station to get an FM translator. 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. (9/10/2016)

Michael Flood is continuing to expand his broadcast holdings with the purchase of a low-power TV station in Omaha. Flood Communications of Omaha, LLC is buying KOHA-LD/48 (Omaha) from Word of God Fellowship/Daystar for $250,000. The agreement includes a provision allowing Daystar to continue running its programming on channel 48.3 at a rate of $1,000 per year. Flood Communications of Omaha also owns Spanish-language "Lobo 97.7" (KBBX-FM Nebraska City-Omaha). Flood's other companies own several low-power TV station running news and local events under the "News Channel Nebraska" name and radio stations in several other Nebraska markets. (9/9/2016)

The CRTC has approved a downgrade for the CBC Radio One station in Geraldton, joining a growing list of CBC transmitters that have cut power in recent years. The CBC says the transmitter at CBLG/89.1 is time-worn and needs to be replaced. It will drop from 11.9kW (class B) to 5.95kW (class B1), with the antenna height barely changing from 134m to 133m. The CRTC says it received no objections to the downgrade. (9/9/2016)

Des Moines is the Upper Midwest's big star of the new Nielsen Media TV market rankings, rising three spots to number 69 for the 2016-2017 season. The market gained more than 7,000 households, an increase of nearly two percent. Madison and Sioux Falls were the only other Upper Midwest TV markets to rise in the rankings, each moving up one spot. Meanwhile, the once-rising western North Dakota market, including the oil patch city of Williston, fell one spot. Other markets falling one spot include Fargo, La Crosse-Eau Claire, Duluth, Rapid City, and Cheyenne-Scottsbluff. Other Upper Midwest markets were unchanged. One bright spot for the TV business is that Nielsen says the decline in TV households has ended, with a national increase of just over one percent since last year. North Platte and Ottumwa-Kirksville are the only Upper Midwest markets to see a decline in TV households over the year. (9/7/2016)

Several changes are coming to the Fargo TV market on Monday, Sept. 12. The Forum reports that Gray TV's new CW affiliate will be seen on channel 30.2 of new low-power station KXJB-LD (Horace-Fargo), and that it will carry a 9 p.m. newscast produced by sister NBC/CBS affiliate KVLY-TV. It will apparently be rebroadcast on K28MA-D (Argusville) and K30LR-D (Grand Forks). Though no announcement can be found on KVLY's website or Facebook page, it appears that KXJB's main channel will carry the "KX4" CBS programming that has been seen on KVLY-DT2 for the past two years.

The CW affiliation is moving from longtime affiliate WDAY-DT2 (Fargo) and WDAZ-DT2 (Devils Lake-Grand Forks), which will move Justice Network from their DT4 to their DT2 channels after the CW leaves. TV listings indicate the station's "WDAY'Z Xtra" subchannel, seen on DT3, will begin operating more as an independent station on Sept. 12, dropping weather programming for syndicated shows in the late afternoon and evening hours. WDAY, a primary ABC affiliate owned by Forum Communications, also recently recently launched a 9 p.m. newscast on both "WDAY'Z Xtra" and Justice Network.

These changes come as Midcontinent Communications moves channels on its lineup. According to an email sent to subscribers, "KX4" will move from channel 4 to 9 so that Cozi TV affilaite KRDK-TV/4.1 (Valley City-Fargo) can be carried on cable channel 4. KXJB's CW programming will be carried on channel 17. WDAY-DT2 will continue to be carried on channel 7, except with Justice Network rather than CW. (9/7/2016)

Educational Medial Foundation is buying the construction permit for K248CE/97.5 (Davenport) from Benjamin Shafer for $32,000. Shafer bought K248CE last year for $40,000. The translator is not yet on the air and faces a Dec. 5 construction deadline. The application states it will carry EMF's "Air 1" Christian Hits network via KAIP/88.9 (Wapello); sister network "K-Love" is already carried on WLKU/98.9 (Rock Island). (9/5/2016)

Legacy Broadcasting is buying K260BK/99.9 (Hastings) from Community Broadcasting for $40,000. The application states Legacy will use K260BK as a fill-in translator for its KRGI-FM/96.5 (Grand Island), meaning it could relay an HD subchannel of that station. Community Broadcasting currently uses K260BK to carry its Bott Radio Network, but will no longer need the translator after its purchase of KFKX/90.1 (Hastings) is complete. (9/5/2016)

The FCC has approved a new tribal FM allotment in north-central South Dakota. 93.5 is alloted to Eagle Butte for a future class C1 station after a request from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, which wants to build a station using 100kW/203m. The new station will serve a large area of tribal lands that have few other radio options. No comments were filed during a window for comment this summer. The tribe must still apply for and receive a construction permit before the new station can sign on. (9/3/2016)

Here is a rundown of some of the new digital TV subchannels that have signed on as the new TV season begins:

Black Hills: Legacy Broadcasting's KHME (Rapid City) and KQME (Lead) added H&I TV on channels 23.2 and 5.2, replacing ThisTV.

Des Moines-Ames: Nexstar added Laff on WOI-DT/5.2, Escape on KCWI/23.2, and Bounce on KCWI/23.3. Meanwhile, Tribune's WHO-DT added ThisTV on 13.4.

Green Bay: Nexstar's WFRV added Bounce on 5.2.

La Crosse-Eau Claire: In an unusual situation, Nexstar added four subchannels, but they are split between two stations serving different ends of the market. WLAX (La Crosse) is carrying Laff on 25.3 and Grit on 25.4, while WEUX (Chippewa Falls-Eau Claire) is carrying Escape on 48.3 and Bounce on 48.4. The stations simulcast FOX and Me-TV on their other channels.

Quad Cities: Nexstar added Grit on WHBF/4.3, Escape on WHBF/4.4, Laff on KGCW/26.3, and Bounce on KGCW/26.4.

Sioux City: Nexstar's KCAU added Escape on 9.2, Laff on 9.3, and Bounce on 9.4.

Western North Dakota: Nexstar's KXMB/12 (Bismarck), KXMC/13 (Minot), KXMA/2 (Dickinson), and KXMD/11 (Williston) added Laff on their .3 channels and Escape on their .4 channels. (9/1/2016)

After two years as Country-formatted "The Hawk," Townsquare Media's KQCS/104.9 (DeWitt-Quad Cities) flipped to Classic Hits as "KIIK (Kick) 104.9" on Wednesday (8/31). The playlist consisting of hits from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s is positioned as "The Quad Cities' Greatest Hits." It has no direct competitor in the market, which has not had a core FM signal carrying Classic Hits for a few years. As of Wednesday evening, Townsquare had not yet activated the website or Facebook page for the new format, but it is streaming through the old Hawk website. (8/31/2016)

Commercials will no longer be airing on the CBC's two music networks after the CRTC denied permission to extend a condition of the networks' licenses allowing up to four minutes of national advertising per hour. The commercials had aired since 2013 on CBC Radio 2, which has stations in Winnipeg, Brandon, and Thunder Bay, and the French-language ICI Musique, which has a station in Winnipeg. While the CRTC found that the broadcast of commercials had not negatively affected commercial broadcasters or been disruptive to listeners, it decided that the CBC has not met its pledge to maintain its investment in radio. The networks' information-based networks, CBC Radio One and ICI Premičre, have been commercial-free since 1975, except for parliamentary advertising. CBC's TV channels air commercials just like other networks. (8/31/2016)

Documents filed with the FCC reveal that the price for Midwest Communications' purchase of five northern Minnesota radio stations from Red Rock Radio is $5.625 million, and that an Iron Range station will be divested as part of the deal.

As previously reported, Midwest is buying Classic Rocker KQDS-FM/94.9 (Duluth) to add to its Twin Ports group, as well as KQDS-FM rebroadcasters KAOD/106.7 (Babbitt) and WXXZ/95.3 (Grand Marais), Iron Range Adult Contemporary outlet WEVE/97.9 (Eveleth), Iron Range Country outlet KGPZ/96.1 (Coleraine), and three WEVE translators on the Iron Range.

Midwest has an existing six-station group in Duluth. Though six was previously the ownership cap for Duluth, Midwest says in its filing that the market now has more than the 30 stations required for a seven-station group after to the sign-on of a few non-commercial stations in recent years.

However, a divestiture is required on the Iron Range. Midwest currently owns six stations based in Hibbing and plans to divest Classic Rocker KMFG/102.9 (Nashwauk-Hibbing) due to overlap with KGPZ. WEVE's transmitter is far enough east that its city-grade signal does not overlap with KGPZ's signal, and does not count as a seventh Hibbing station. (Contour-based ownership rules are in effect on the Iron Range because it is not a rated market.)

The filing also reveals that Midwest plans to switch the current WEVE translator in Hibbing (W252AN/98.3) to KGPZ and the current WEVE translator in Ely (W288AI/105.5) to KAOD. The company told the Duluth News Tribune last week that it intends to continue the KQDS-FM simulcast on KAOD and WXXZ. (8/31/2016)

KXLQ/1490 (Indianola) has filed a notification of suspension of operations with the FCC. The station, owned by Birach Broadcasting, says in the filing that it experienced transmitter issues on August 25. It requests to remain silent for 180 days while the transmitter is repaired. The station serves an area south of Des Moines and carries a Sports format. (8/30/2016)

The FCC has deleted the license of KXZS/107.5 (Wall), which records indicate had been silent since March 2015. Federal law says stations forfeit their license if they are silent for more than a year. KXZS initially received its license, serving the Badlands east of Rapid City, in 2011, but then requested a series of special temporary authorities to remain silent. It was owned by JER Licenses and was granted at the same time as KXZT/107.9 (Newell), which is not yet on the air and is being sold to Bad Lands Broadcasting. (8/30/2016)

The FCC has granted the following FM translator moves under the second AM revitalization filing window:

  • Shenandoah, IA: KYFR/920, 94.5, 250W
  • Lincoln, NE: KLMS/1480, 101.5, 130W
  • Omaha, NE: KMMQ/1020 (Plattsmouth), 99.5, 250W (amended from original 96.7 application)
  • Beloit, WI: WBEL/1380 (South Beloit, IL), 98.9, 250W
  • Oshkosh, WI: WSCO/1570 (Appleton), 99.1, 120W
  • Oshkosh, WI: WHBY/1150 (Kimberly), 106.3, 190W

You can follow applications for the Upper Midwest as they come in at the 2016 AM Revitalization Translators, Round 2 page. (8/28/2016)

Midwest Communications is picking up an additional FM station in Duluth and several others in northeastern Minnesota in a deal that splits apart the Red Rock Radio group in the Twin Ports.

The deal, reported by RadioInsight, includes Classic Rocker KQDS-FM/94.9 (Duluth), KQDS-FM rebroadcasters KAOD/106.7 (Babbitt) and WXXZ/95.3 (Grand Marais), Iron Range Adult Contemporary outlet WEVE/97.9 (Eveleth), Iron Range Country outlet KGPZ/96.1 (Coleraine), and three WEVE translators on the Iron Range.

Midwest currently owns three AM stations and three FM stations in the Twin Ports, and two AM stations and four FM stations on the Iron Range. (See the Minnesota Radio Markets page for complete lists.) To comply with ownership caps, Midwest may have to divest a station in the Duluth market, where its smallest outlet is WDUL/970 (Superior-Duluth).

Not included in the deal are three other Red Rock stations in Duluth, WEVE's longtime AM counterpart, or KQDS-FM rebroadcasters in Deer River and Pillager-Brainerd. After this deal and the sale of its five stations in northwestern Wisconsin earlier this year, Red Rock has 14 remaining radio stations in northeastern and north-central Minnesota. Red Rock is a sister company to Red River Broadcast Co., which owns Duluth FOX affiliate KQDS-TV/21 as well as TV stations in the Fargo and Sioux Falls markets. Myron Kunin, whose family owns controlling interest in the companies, died in 2013. (8/23/2016)

ABC has returned to DirecTV in North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota, but without newscasts from Grand Forks. WDAY-TV/6 (Fargo) reports that it and sister Forum Communications Co. station KBMY/17 (Bismarck) returned to DirecTV on Aug. 18 after a two-and-a-half month outage. However, DirecTV is not carrying Forum's WDAZ/8 (Devils Lake-Grand Forks), which carries the only newscasts for the Grand Forks area. Federal rules do not require DirecTV to carry both WDAY and WDAZ since Grand Forks is considered to be part of the Fargo market. The station's news story says that it will be distributing free antennas to customers in the Grand Forks area and points out that DISH Network and cable companies still carry WDAZ. (8/23/2016)

In its first week of granting FM translator moves under the second AM revitalization filing window, the FCC has granted about half of the applications filed in the Upper Midwest. They include:

  • Ames, IA: WOI/640, 104.7, 250W
  • Duluth, MN: KDAL/610, 103.9, 250W
  • Duluth, MN (Superior, WI): WDSM/710, 98.1, 250W
  • Fergus Falls, MN: KJJK/1020, 97.7, 250W
  • Park Rapids, MN: KPRM/870, 100.5, 250W
  • Grand Island, NE: KMMJ/750, 104.3, 250W
  • Grand Island, NE: KRGI/1430, 106.9, 250W
  • Scottsbluff, NE: KNEB/960, 100.3, 250W
  • Fargo, ND: KFGO/790, 92.3, 250W
  • Fargo, ND: KQWB/1660 (West Fargo), 92.7, 250W
  • Aberdeen, SD: KSDN/930, 102.1, 250W
  • Clintonville, WI: WOTE/1380, 94.9, 250W
  • Milwaukee, WI: WGLB/1560, 96.1, 99W
  • Shawano, WI: WTCH/960, 96.1, 250W
  • Sioux Falls, SD: KELO/1320, 105.1, 250W
  • Eau Claire, WI: WDVM/1050, 107.9, 250W

You can follow applications for the Upper Midwest as they come in at the 2016 AM Revitalization Translators, Round 2 page. (8/17, 8/19, and 8/21/2016; corrected KPRM frequency 8/23)

The FCC has dealt Gray TV a blow in the Fargo market, saying Gray did not retain the rights to use cable channel 4 when it sold the license associated with that channel number. Gray sold the former KXJB-TV/4.1 (Valley City-Fargo) to comply with ownership caps but retained its longtime "KX4" CBS affiliation by moving it to a subchannel of KVLY-TV/11.1 (Fargo). Channel 4.1 is now KRDK-TV and its new owner, Ravi Kapur's Major Market Broadcasting, sought carriage on Cable One channel 4. Cable One initially rejected KRDK's must-carry request, saying it already had a contract with Gray to carry "KX4" on that channel. Gray contended that KRDK's new owner had agreed not to seek carriage on cable channel 4, a claim which KRDK denied and which the FCC's Media Bureau has now rejected as an "unsubstantiated and self-serving argument." It ordered Cable One to begin carrying KRDK on channel 4, or a channel mutually agreed upon by KRDK and Cable One, within 45 days. The FCC also recently denied Gray's request to move KRDK's virtual channel to 38.1 so that KVLY could use both virtual channels 4.1 and 11.1. KRDK carries Cozi TV and local sports on channel 4.1. (8/15/2016)

New low-power FM station WFNU-LP/94.1 (St. Paul) is on the air as "Frogtown Community Radio." The 100-Watt station was initially supposed to share time with the Center for Hmong Arts & Talent (CHAT) on the frequency, but CHAT returned its construction permit after the two groups partnered together. WFNU-LP's studio is at CHAT's facility. It is the fifth LPFM station to sign on in the Twin Cities metro area, with several more to come -- see the updated Twin Cities Class D/LPFM's page for a complete list. (8/14/2016)

Heritage Rocker KRNA/94.1 (Iowa City-Cedar Rapids) has flipped to "Classic Rock that Really Rocks," ending what the station's Jaymz Larson calls a "long walk of shame" in a video. The station has gone through Alternative and Active Rock playlists in recent years. The Classic Rock format puts KRNA, owned by Townsquare Media, in direct competition with iHeartMedia's "100.7 The Fox" (KKRQ Iowa City-Cedar Rapids). Fans of newer Rock music will likely move over to NRG Media's "Rock 108" (KFMW/107.9 Waterloo-Cedar Rapids). (8/12/2016)

After a year and a half as Classic Rocker "Big FM," Corus Media's CJKR-FM/97.5 (Winnipeg) has reverted to its former "Power 97" moniker with a mainstream Rock format. Numeris 12+ ratings show that while "Big FM" had seen some growth since its early 2015 launch, it never came close to Rogers Classic Rocker CITI-FM/92.1 -- which actually saw its ratings jump after CJKR changed format. "Power 97" will announce its new airstaff next month. (8/12/2016)

KRDK-TV (Valley City-Fargo) has made changes to its channel lineup, dropping from ten to eight channels as it upgrades its primary channel 4.1 to HD. The station said in a post on its Facebook page that in order to add the HD channel, it had to drop Weigel Broadcasting's H&I, Decades, and Movies! channels. A subsequent post said the decision to drop the Weigel channels was not KRDK's alone. The HD channel carries Cozi TV and local high school sports. KRDK also added Bounce TV as part of the switch. (8/7/2016)

Forum Communications ABC affiliate WDAY-TV (Fargo) is planning a new 9 p.m. newscast to air on its subchannels. Promos running on the station say the new newscast will air on the WDAY'Z XTRA and Justice Network subchannels beginning August 29, which are seen on WDAY-TV as well as WDAZ (Devils Lake-Grand Forks), KBMY (Bismarck), and KMCY (Minot). The newscast launch will come around the same time that WDAY-DT2 and WDAZ-DT2 lose their CW affiliation, which is moving to a subchannel of Gray TV's future low-power station, KXJB-LD/30 (Horace-Fargo). (8/7/2016)

A company managed by Nebraska broadcaster Mike Flood is buying the construction permit for a new low-power TV station in Sioux City. Contigo Communications, LLC is buying K14NV-D from Puerto Rico-based Telecinco for $50,000. Flood operates several LPTV stations under the "NewsChannel Nebraska" name as well as several radio groups. (8/7/2016)

A half-dozen Upper Midwest FM translator sales recently filed for FCC approval are related to the AM revitalization translator filing opportunity, which is now in its second window:

Family Stations is selling K208FZ (Amana, IA) to Vision Communications for $35,000. The buyer intends to move the translator to Kansas.

Educational Media Foundation is selling K293CG (Gilbert-Ames, IA) to Midwest Communications for $40,000. The buyer has applied to move the translator to Sioux Falls to relay KELO/1320 (Sioux Falls).

E-String Wireless, Ltd. is selling K247CA (Iowa City) to NRG Media for $33,000. The buyer has applied to move the translator to Omaha to relay KMMQ/1020 (Plattsmouth-Omaha).

Horizon Christian Fellowship is selling K272FH (Rapid City) to Prairie Winds Broadcasting for $40,000. The buyer has applied to move the translator to Aberdeen to relay KSDN/930 (Aberdeen).

Educational Media Foundation is selling W270CT (Black River Falls, WI) to the Milwaukee Radio Alliance, LLC for $32,500. The buyer has applied to move the translator to Franklin-Racine to relay WZTI/1290 (Greenfield-Milwaukee), which has an existing FM translator in Milwaukee.

WRVM, Inc. is selling W263BS (Rhinelander, WI) to Salem Media for $50,000. The buyer has applied to move the translator to suburban Minneapolis to relay WWTC/1280 (Minneapolis). (8/4/2016)

The "My9" subchannel in the Duluth-Superior market is no longer available on DISH Network after Quincy Media's channel changes this week. "My9" moved from KBJR-DT2/6.2 to KBJR-DT3/6.3 to make way for the new "CBS 3" on 6.2 as part of channel changes that will allow Quincy to continue selling ads on both KBJR's primary NBC channel and the CBS subchannel (see post from July 19 for background). DISH had previously carried KBJR-DT2 on channel 9; DISH and other providers began carrying KBJR-DT2 on channel 3 instead of KDLH/3.1 as part of Quincy's channel changes. KDLH's main channel, now a CW affiliate owned by SagamoreHill Broadcasting, is now carried on DISH channel 11. There is no longer a channel 9 on DISH's lineup in the market. (DirecTV had never carried the "My9" channel.) (8/3/2016)

"Iron Country" will launch Wednesday, Aug. 3, on Big Radio's W270CW/101.9 (Beloit) and WGEZ/1490 (Beloit). The Classic Country format will feature hits from the 1970's to early 2000's and 101.9 will be the first commercial FM signal specifically targetting Beloit. "Big Red," who formerly hosted a Sunday morning Classic Country show on Bliss Communications' WJVL/99.9 (Janesville), will host mornings on "Iron Country." W270CW was moved to Beloit under the FCC's AM revitalization window.

The Oldies format previously heard on WGEZ will replace ESPN Radio on sister station WBEL/1380 (South Beloit, IL), though "The Big 1380" will continue to carry local talk programming during the daytime hours. The stations are among ten along the stateline operated by Ben Thompson of Beloit and his father, Scott Thompson of Monroe. (8/2/2016)

Saga Communications has dropped Soft Oldies "Legend 104.5" in favor of "Talk 104.5" in Des Moines. The format, consisting of syndicated talkers including Laura Ingraham and Clark Howard, is heard on K283CC/104.5 (Des Moines) and the HD2 signal of KAZR/103.3 (Pella-Des Moines). FM Talk is not a novelty in the market, where Cumulus Media's KWQW/98.3 (Boone-Des Moines) had carried Talk for a decade until dropping it for Classic Hip-Hop and R&B last year. (8/1/2016)

The rush is on for the last available FM frequencies in the Twin Cities. One commercial broadcaster has reached an agreement with the would-be operator of a low-power FM station to give up its permit, while two other broadcasters are competing for a different frequency.

Greg Borgen's Spanish-language WREY/630 (St. Paul) has applied to operate a translator on 94.9, moving it in from southern Minnesota under the second FCC AM revitalization window. It would transmit from the Wells Fargo Center in downtown St. Paul, providing a good signal to the east metro. WREY has reached an agreement with the Victoria Theater Project to give up the construction permit for WVIC-LP/94.9 (St. Paul). In exchange, WREY sister station WDGY/740 (Hudson-St. Paul) would give the Victoria Theater Project a two-hour program on Sunday mornings and 18 announcements per week for one year. WREY is already rebroadcast on K288GR/105.5 (Bayport-Hudson), which is not directly tied to WREY's license since it was not obtained using a waiver.

Meanwhile, the University of Northwestern-St. Paul's KTIS/900 (Minneapolis) and Salem Media's WWTC/1280 (Minneapolis) both filed applications for translators on 107.5 on the first day of the second revitalization filing window. KTIS proposes using 180 Watts directional from the IDS Center in Minneapolis, while WWTC proposes using 250 Watts directional from its tower site in St. Louis Park. KTIS carries the non-commercial "Faith Radio" while WWTC carries Conservative Talk. KTIS is already heard on the Educational Media Foundation's K214DF/90.7 (Golden Valley-Minneapolis), but K214DF could be switched to a different station because it was not obtained using a waiver. (8/1/2016)

The second filing window allowing FM translators to be moved up to 250 miles to relay AM stations has opened, expanding the opportunity to include all AM stations. The initial filing window that closed Thursday, July 28, was only open to class C and D AM stations, which generally have weaker nighttime signals. 53 applications were filed in the Upper Midwest during the first window; all but three last-minute applications have been granted and at least 23 of the translators are now on the air. (See a list on the 2016 AM Revitalization Translators, Round 1 page.)

The first applications of the second window were filed Friday, July 29, and became publicly available on Monday. They include:

  • Ames, IA: WOI/640, 104.7, 250W
  • Shenandoah, IA: KYFR/920, 94.5, 250W
  • Duluth, MN: KDAL/610, 103.9, 250W
  • Duluth, MN (Superior, WI): WDSM/710, 98.1, 250W [would replace a current CP allowing the same translator to relay Midwest's WDUL/970]
  • Fergus Falls, MN: KJJK/1020, 97.7, 250W
  • Minneapolis, MN: KTIS/900, 107.5, 180W
  • Minneapolis, MN: WWTC/1280, 107.5, 250W
  • Park Rapids, MN: KPRM/870, 96.5, 250W
  • St. Paul, MN: WREY/630, 94.9, 250W
  • Grand Island, NE: KMMJ/750, 104.3, 250W
  • Grand Island, NE: KRGI/1430, 106.9, 250W
  • Lincoln, NE: KLMS/1480, 101.5, 130W
  • Omaha, NE: KXSP/590, 96.5, 250W
  • Omaha, NE: KMMQ/1020 (Plattsmouth), 96.7, 250W
  • Onalaska, WI: WKBH/1570 (Holmen), 94.1, 250W
  • Scottsbluff, NE: KNEB/960, 100.3, 250W
  • Fargo, ND: KVOX/740, 93.1, 250W
  • Fargo, ND: KFGO/790, 92.3, 250W
  • Fargo, ND: KQWB/1660 (West Fargo), 92.7, 250W
  • Aberdeen, SD: KSDN/930, 102.1, 250W
  • Sioux Falls, SD: KELO/1320, 105.1, 250W
  • Beloit, WI: WBEL/1380, 98.9, 250W
  • Clintonville, WI: WOTE/1380, 94.9, 250W
  • Eau Claire, WI: WDVM/1050, 107.9, 250W
  • Franklin-Racine, WI: WZTI/1290 (Greenfield), 107.3, 250W
  • Milwaukee, WI: WGLB/1560, 96.1, 99W
  • Oshkosh, WI: WSCO/1570 (Appleton), 99.1, 120W
  • Oshkosh, WI: WHBY/1150 (Kimberly), 106.3, 190W
  • Shawano, WI: WTCH/960, 96.1, 250W [WTCH already operates a translator on this frequency. The existing translator has appied to move to 96.5 to relay WOTE/1380 (Clintonville) in Shawano.]

You can follow applications for the Upper Midwest as they come in at the 2016 AM Revitalization Translators, Round 2 page. (8/1/2016)

News archive...

Newspaper/Web Articles

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Grand Forks Herald: Scott Swygman, former voice of UND sports, dies (9/24)
KCCI: Longtime KCCI chief meteorologist John McLaughlin resigns (9/12)
MinnPost: With launch of Frogtown station, low power radio comes full circle in Twin Cities (8/11)
Iowa City Press-Citizen: KXIC legend Dottie Ray was a 'pioneer in broadcasting' (8/10)
Star Tribune: 'Here we go again': Barb Abney is out of a job at Go 96.3 (8/4)
Des Moines Register: Departing KCCI reporter: 'Racism in the state did not help my decision to stay' (8/2)
Lincoln Journal Star: KFOR releases morning show host (8/1)
St. Paul Pioneer Press: Obituary: Local radio personality Dick Driscoll rubbed elbows with likes of Elvis (7/19)
Lincoln Journal Star: Is Coby Mach returning to Lincoln radio? (7/18)
Star Tribune: DJ/music director/hype man Peter Parker 'lives and breathes hip-hop' at Go 95.3 (7/15)
Star Tribune: MPR reporter and news editor Toni Randolph dies at 53 (7/5)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee Public TV drops 'InterChange,' 'I Remember' (6/27)
CBS Sunday Morning: Garrison Keillor signs off (6/26)
Cedar Rapids Gazette: Iowa broadcasting legend Bob Brooks dies at 89 (6/25)
Grand Island Independent: Hastings College radio station says ‘goodbye’ as art and media departments merge (6/24)
St. Cloud Times: Sauk Rapids station to play entire music library (6/24)
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Star Tribune: Be well, Garrison, and keep in touch (6/17)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: WISN-TV adds Franklin native Lindsey Slater to weather team (6/8)
WGBA: Moravchik named News Director of NBC26 (6/1)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: WITI-TV leads overall, barely, in May sweeps (5/26)
Star Tribune: Is Chris Thile ready to replace Garrison Keillor on 'A Prairie Home Companion'? (5/20)
NetNewsCheck: In Green Bay, WLUK Tops Social Media (5/16)
Star Tribune: 'Rosen's Sports Sunday' heads into its final inning (5/15)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: WISN-TV, WTMJ-AM take top honors at Wisconsin Broadcasters Association awards (5/8)
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