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ALL-CHRISTMAS UPDATE:
Entercom has moved its annual all-Christmas format in the Madison market to a smaller signal. Hot Adult Contemporary-formatted "Mix 105.1" (WMHX Waunakee-Madison) flipped to all-Christmas on Thursday, Nov. 15. Entercom Classic Hits outlet WOLX/94.9 (Baraboo-Madison) had carried all-Christmas formats annually since 2002.

In Milwaukee, iHeartMedia's "95.7 Big FM" (WRIT) made the switch to all-Christmas on Thursday to match the start of the Milwaukee Downtown Holiday Lights Festival, two days after the Milwaukee Radio Alliance's "B93.3" (WLDB) begin all-Christmas music.

And in Winnipeg, Rogers' "KiSS 102.3" (CKY-FM) announced that it will go all-Christmas at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, in time for the Winnipeg Santa Claus Parade. The announcement came a day after a report that Corus would flip "Peggy @ 99.1" (CFPG-FM) to all-Christmas on the 23rd.

Track Santa's landing market-by-market on the 2018 All-Christmas Stations page. (11/15/2018)

IOWA:
Two companies that own radio stations in Iowa are splitting up and dividing the stations they currently own. Fieldview Broadcasting LLC currently owns 40 percent of Riverfront Broadcasting of Iowa and is withdrawing from the company. In exchange, Fieldview will get KWBG/1590 (Boone), KZWC/1570 (Webster City), KQWC-FM/95.7 (Webster City), and KZWC translator K225BZ/92.9 (Webster City). Riverfront will retain KHBT/97.7 (Humboldt), KLGZ/1600 (Algona), KLGA-FM/92.7 (Algona), and KLGZ translator K253BJ/98.5 (Algona). Fieldview is owned by Danette and Kirk Graeve of Dallas Center, while Riverfront is owned by Carolyn and Doyle Becker of Yankton, SD. Sister Riverfront companies also own four stations in Minnesota and six in South Dakota. (11/11/2018)

MINNESOTA/SOUTH DAKOTA:
The FCC recently granted the following construction permits for new FM translators after competing applications were resolved:

  • Brainerd, MN: KLIZ/1380, K287CJ/105.3, 250W (amended from 105.1)
  • Crookston, MN: KROX/1260, K221GU/92.1, 250W (amended from 92.3)
  • Wadena, MN: KWAD/920, K269HE/101.7, 250W (amended from 101.3)
  • Sioux Falls, SD: KNWC/1270, K298CY/107.5, 250W (competing application changed frequency) (11/11/2018)

NORTH DAKOTA/WISCONSIN:
Several more DTV channels have been added on stations that already carry a large mix of programming:

  • Bismarck/Minot: KNDB/26 (Bismarck) and KNDM/24 (Minot) have added four more channels following their sale to BEK Sports Network. The stations are carrying Cozi on DT4, Bounce on DT5, Quest on DT6, and Comet on DT7.
  • Fargo: Major Market Broadcasting's KRDK added Quest on 4.9 and is poised to launch getTV on 4.10, joining eight other channels already carried on the station.
  • Milwaukee: WIWN has added ThisTV on channel 68.5, replacing QVC2. This TV had previously been carried by Weigel Media stations in the market. It's one of eight channels carried on WIWN, which is owned by Milwaukee Media LLC. (11/9/2018)

MINNESOTA:
Cumulus Media as dropped the Classic Hip-Hop "105 The Vibe" format in the Twin Cities and reverted to "Love 105" with Christmas music. The mix of Christmas favorites from the Nostalgia and Adult Contemporary genres began Thursday morning. It will presumably compete with the Christmas format on iHeartMedia's "Kool 108" that has launched on the Friday before Thanksgiving for the past several years.

The simulcast of WGVX/105.1 (Lakeville), WLUP/105.3 (Cambridge), and WWWM-FM/105.7 (Eden Prairie-Minneapolis) has had eight identities and 16 callsigns over the past few decades, with the longest-running slogan being "Love" from 2007 to 2013. The "Love" format originally launched as a broad Soft Oldies format that evolved towards mainstream Oldies after Kool 108's segue to Classic Hits, and then to Adult Contemporary after the end of "102.9 Lite FM."

The Twin Cities have been without a mainstream AC station since "Love" switched to Sports as "The Ticket" five years ago. That format was replaced with "The Vibe" two years later. The launch of Classic Hip-Hop came as the format swept the nation, and the format competed at that time with iHeartMedia's "Hot 102.5" on K273BH/102.5 and KTCZ-HD3; "Hot" has since changed to a contemporary Hip-Hop/R&B format. (11/8/2018)

MICHIGAN:
The eastern Upper Peninsula's WMJT/96.7 (McMillan-Newberry) has switched from Classic Hits to Hot Adult Contemporary as "Flash FM" following a change in management. The change, first noted by RadioInsight, happened Oct. 31 and comes after Travis Sumbera's Two Hearted Media LLC reached a deal to buy WMJT from David L. Smith for $100,000. Sumbera has worked at the station for a decade and took over management through a local marketing agreement on Sept. 1. Classic Hits remain available on Newberry's other commercial FM license, Sovereign Communications' WNBY-FM/93.9, which primarily targets Sault Ste. Marie. (11/7/2018)

WISCONSIN:
Wisconsin Public Radio has named Kate Archer Kent as the new morning host on its Ideas Network. Archer Kent is a familiar voice on the network after several years as a fill-in host, including a previous eight-month span on "The Morning Show" prior to Carrie Kaufman's start in June. Kaufman left the network in September due to her mother's health and John Munson has been filling in since then. Archer Kent will take over the show on Dec. 3. "The Morning Show" is an interview and call-in program that airs on WPR's Ideas Network from 6 to 9, opposite "Morning Edition" on the network's NPR News & Classical Music service. (11/5/2018)

NEW FM TRANSLATORS ON THE AIR:
The following new FM translators have applied for and/or received their licenses to cover:

  • Bellevue, IA: K223DA/92.5, relaying KMAQ/1320 (Maquoketa)
  • Ironwood, MI: W221EH/92.1 received its license to cover but has not been heard on the air
  • St. Joseph, MN: K228FV/93.5, relaying Relevant Radio from KYES/1180 (Rockville) with fringe coverage of St. Cloud
  • Falls City, NE: K296HK/107.1, relaying KTNC/1230's format of local news, Oldies, and Sports. (11/4/2018, updated W221EH 11/11)

MINNESOTA:
A planned new AM radio station in the Brainerd Lakes area will go unbuilt. De La Hunt Broadcasting had received a construction permit for the new station on 1210 in Pine River in April 2015. This past spring, the FCC granted a six-month extension of the CP after De La Hunt said that the elimination of the main studio rule had caused the company to reconsider plans to let the permit expire. However, the company's attorney sent a letter in September asking for cancellation of the permit, which was due to expire on Oct. 23. The new station would have used 5.5kW nondirectional daytime and 250 Watts directional nighttime. It had also applied for a translator on 105.1. (11/4/2018)

SOUTH DAKOTA:
"Hits 102.7" (KXMZ Box Elder-Rapid City) is operating at reduced power while it seeks a new transmitter site. Haugo Broadcasting bought the station last year and tells the FCC, in a request for special temporary authority, that the lease for its licensed facility at a tower owned by Rapid Broadcasting expired Oct. 31 and negotiations for an extension were unsuccessful. KXMZ is licensed for 50kW at 137m (class C2) and is temporarily using 1kW at 105m from a Haugo tower while it works on finding a permanent site. (11/4/2018, updated temporary HAAT based on new STA filing 11/13)

WISCONSIN/ALL-CHRISTMAS:
WPCK/104.9 (Denmark-Green Bay) has dropped its usual Country format in favor of Christmas music. The change may only be seasonal, or it could be a sign of things to come since Cumulus placed WPCK in a divestiture trust earlier this year and split off its longtime simulcast with WPKR/99.5 (Omro-Oshkosh), which continues with the "Nash FM" Country format. WPCK has retained the "Nash FM" branding with a Christmas music mix that includes some Country artists but is heavy on traditional favorites. Green Bay does not have a commercial station that traditionally goes Christmas, but all-Christmas formats have led to format changes in the market three times in the past decade. (11/1/2018)

Elsewhere, iHeartMedia's "Leo 1360" (KMJM Cedar Rapids) has also gone All-Christmas as of Nov. 1. You can track this year's flips on the 2018 All-Christmas Stations page. (11/1/2018)

MINNESOTA (UPDATED AGAIN):
Alpha Media has tweaked formats at two stations in the Mankato market, moving Adult Contemporary to a larger signal, dropping Contemporary Hits, and adding Classic Hits.

KEEZ/99.1 (Mankato) dropped its decades-old "Z99" branding, most recently used with a Contemporary Hits format, and relaunched as AC outlet "Mix 99-1." The Nov. 1 debut came after a day of stunting as "Thriller 99-1," looping Michael Jackson's legendary Halloween song. The previous "Z99" Contemporary Hits format had competed primarily with the Linder family's "Hot 96-7" (KDOG North Mankato), though the station had also run Hot AC in past years under the "Z99" slogan.

Meanwhile, "River 105" (KRBI-FM St. Peter-Mankato) reverted from AC to its previous Classic Hits format. "River 105" competes with a fulltime Classic Hits format on the Linder family's KXAC/100.5 (St. James-Mankato) and a mix of News and Classic Hits on the Linders' KTOE/1420 and K274AL/102.7. (10/31/2018, updated 11/1)

WISCONSIN:
Ahead of the Nov. 1 flip of WKTI/94.5 (Milwaukee) from Country to Sports, suburban WVTY/92.1 (Racine) has flipped from Variety Hits to "VTY Country." The change reinstitutes a format that WVTY owner Dave Magnum had initially launched on the station when he bought it in 2014. Six months later, WKTI switched to Country and WVTY picked up WKTI's former Variety Hits format.

"A by-product of Craig (Karmazin) flipping WKTI from Country to Sports is that his move makes it viable for me to revert back to my original plan of flipping 92.1 to Country," Magnum said.

92.1 covers the southern half of the Milwaukee market and Magnum's "Buzz Country 92.5" (WMBZ West Bend) covers the northern half, both competing with iHeartMedia's WMIL/106.1 (Waukesha-Milwaukee). Magnum says the stations will be operated separately.

"We've invested a lot of resources over the last four years re-building the transmission, antenna and processing systems of 92.1 and 92.5," Magnum said, noting that they had just installed a new tube in 92.1's transmitter before the format change but it was blown out by a lightning strike. Fortunately, they have a backup transmitter.

WKTI is running ads promoting both 92.1 and 92.5 through Friday. (10/31/2018)

MINNESOTA:
One of the few remaining encrypted low-power TV systems in the region has opened up its feeds. Minnesota Valley TV in Granite Falls put its channels into the clear earlier this month, relaying most of the Twin Cities stations along with Pioneer Public TV and national networks such as Grit on K29JW-D. The system had previously kept major networks encrypted. It's now accepting voluntary donations to fund the over-the-air service. The organization posted instructions on its website telling members to discard their old set-top boxes and plug their antennas directly into their TV's. It's not clear which LPTV channels are relaying which stations; several of the stations also recently changed channel due to the spectrum auction repack.

Up the road in Alexandria, several services on the Selective TV system also recently changed channel due to the repack. NASA TV moved from 48.1 to 17.1 and the mix of five channels previously seen on K50DB moved to channel 20: Heartland, Newsmax, C-SPAN, MSNBC, and REV'N. It appears KMSP-FOX also moved from K38AC to channel 33, still remapping to virtual channel 9.4 through 9.9.

Elsewhere, translator systems in Birchdale, Frost, International Falls, and Willmar also recently made RF channel changes, but viewers will likely receive the same virtual channels once they rescan. A complete listing is available on the Minnesota TV Stations page. (10/30/2018)

MICHIGAN/WISCONSIN:
In the latest of what has become a trend of AM downgrades by different owners across the region, J&J Broadcasting's WJMS/590 (Ironwood) has applied to permanently cut nighttime power and switch to a nondirectional antenna. The application comes a year after WJMS told the FCC that vandals had damaged its three-tower nighttime directional array during an attempted copper theft, damaging feed lines and other cables. The site is several miles southwest of Ironwood along the Gile flowage in Wisconsin. WJMS is licensed for 1kW directional at night but been using 250 Watts nondirectional under special temporary authority since the vandalism and is now seeking permanent use of 113 Watts nondirectional at night. The reduction means more nighttime interference to some listeners in eastern Ironwood and Bessemer. WJMS will remain 5kW nondirectional during the daytime.

WJMS is at least the seventh Upper Midwest AM station in recent years to drop power rather than reconstruct aging or damaged towers or transmitters. As documented here over the years, other downgrades have happened in Eau Claire, WI; Faribault, MN; Carroll, IA; Sioux City, IA; Rapid City, SD; and Bismarck, ND. (10/29/2018)

NORTH DAKOTA:
Prairie Public Broadcasting has returned the license for translator K220FH/91.9 (Tioga). The network did not provide a reason for the surrender in a letter to the FCC other than to say the 8-Watt station was no longer in service. Tioga also receives fringe service from the network's KPPW/88.7 (Williston). (10/29/2018)

WISCONSIN:
Milwaukee is poised to get its first full-power all-Sports FM signal when Good Karma Brands moves its ESPN lineup from WAUK/540 to WKTI-FM/94.5 starting Nov. 1. Good Karma is in the process of buying WKTI from Scripps Broadcasting along with WTMJ/620, which is the flagship of the Packers, Brewers, and Bucks.

WAUK and WKTI will simulcast the same programming at first, which includes local shows hosted by Jason Wilde, Mark Tauscher, Steve "The Homer" True, and Gabe Neitzel. The station says, in response to questions on its Facebook page, that it will eventually add more local programming to the FM signal. It also says that current plans are for the ESPN hosts to move into the current WTMJ/WKTI facility.

The move means an end to the three-year-old "KTI Country" format, which had been close to iHeartMedia heritage Country outlet WMIL/106.1 in some Nielsen Audio 6+ ratings periods but had fallen back in the past few months. RadioInsight reports the change will mean job losses for several "KTI Country" announcers. The station's Facebook page is encouraging listners to help them go out on a high note by participating in a station blood drive already planned for Oct. 30.

"ESPN 94.5" will compete with Entercom's "105.7 The Fan" (W289CB/105.7 and WSSP/1250) and iHeart's "The Big 920" (WOKY). (10/26/2018)

MINNESOTA:
iHeartMedia Minneapolis has extended the contract of long-running KDWB/101.3 morning host Dave Ryan. Ryan celebrated his 25th anniversary at the legendary Contemporary Hits outlet earlier this year and will continue with co-hosts Steve O and Falen for at least another three years, according to a news release issued Monday. He also serves as a mentor for other on-air talent and personalities. Ryan was profiled by the Star Tribune last month. (10/22/2018)

MINNESOTA:
Most of Duluth's commercial radio stations will again be located downtown after an announcement last week by Townsquare Media. After two decades in the city's main retail area, the Townsquare group of "Kool 101.7" (KLDJ), "B105" (KKCB), "Sasquatch 106.5" (WEBC/560 and FM translator), and "Mix 108" (KBMX) is poised to move to the Holiday Center in late 2019. The Superior Street-level space was previously occupied by a furniture store.

The new facility is just a block away from where WEBC previously spent several decades. According to Roger Johnson's WEBC Technological History thesis, the station moved into the Palladio Building at the northwest corner of 4th Avenue West and Superior Street in 1937 and remained there until a 1967 fire gutted the building. WEBC then moved to Duluth's East Hillside, where it added WAVC (now KKCB) in 1983 and KLDJ in 1995. The group moved to Central Entrance in 1999, where it soon added KBMX.

Townsquare's main competitor, the seven-station Midwest Communications group, is three blocks east of the Holiday Center on the Technology Village's third floor. Up until a few years ago, Midwest was located a mile west of Townsquare's current home on Central Entrance (and Northwestern's two non-commercial Christian stations remain just east of the former Midwest facility). The city's only other commercial radio operation, the two-station Twin Ports Radio, is located in East Hillside. Meanwhile, a different part of the Holiday Center had previously housed Minnesota Public Radio's regional office before it moved one block west to the Alworth building a few years ago. (10/22/2018)

WISCONSIN:
WPFP/980 (Park Falls) has dropped Conservative Talk for Variety Hits as "103.1 Jack FM" following the launch of new FM translator W276DJ/103.1. WPFP and Country-formatted "Q98.3" (WCQM Park Falls) are owned by Stephen Marks' Park Falls Community Broadcasting. The stations have no direct local competition other than a translator for an Ironwood station. WPFP's previous "Freedom Talk" format had been put into place by its previous owner, Heartland Communications, which continues to program the format in Ashland and Eagle River. (10/22/2018)

MINNESOTA:
Minnesota Public Radio's News and Classical networks are no longer simulcasting "Live from Here" with Chris Thile, dropping a decades-old dual broadcast of the live show in the Saturday 5-7 p.m. timeslot. The simulcast had begun at the height of the popularity of Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion," which morphed into "Live from Here." Classical MPR playlists indicate the network stopped carrying "Live from Here" in favor of continued Classical music on Sept. 1. Thile's music and entertainment show continues on the MPR News network. Meanwhile, Wisconsin Public Radio continues to simulcast "Live from Here" on its two main networks. (10/21/2018)

IOWA:
Two competing applications for new FM translators in the Waterloo area will be resolved at auction. In the last AM Revitalization filing window, Coloff Media and NRG Media both applied for new translators on 101.5 to relay Coloff's KCFI/1250 (Cedar Falls) and NRG's KPTY/1330 (Waterloo). After no agreement was reached during a settlement window, the applications are among 13 nationwide (and the only ones in the Upper Midwest) headed to an auction next year. Bidding will begin at $10,000. Both stations already have FM translators that could potentially be repurposed for other uses, such as relaying an HD2 feed or moving to cover another area; existing KCFI translator K286CI/105.1 recently applied to move to a tower south of town. (10/19/2018)

ILLINOIS/IOWA/MINNESOTA/WISCONSIN:
Quincy Media stations returned to DISH Network on Friday (Oct. 12) following a retransmission consent dispute outage that lasted more than seven weeks, taking 15 major network affiliates off the provider in the Upper Midwest. They included ABC affiliates in Madison, La Crosse, Eau Claire, and Wausau, the CBS affiliate in Duluth, the FOX affiliate in Quincy, NBC affiliates in Quincy, Waterloo, Sioux City, Rochester, and Duluth, CW affiliates in Waterloo, Sioux City, and Wausau, and the MyNetworkTV channel in Duluth.

In the Duluth market, CW affiliate KDLH remained off DISH for a few additional days but later returned. KDLH had left DISH in the spring amid a dispute between DISH and the station's previous owner, SagamoreHill Broadcasting. Quincy closed on its purchase of KDLH in August, and other SagamoreHill stations returned to DISH that same month. (10/13/2018, updated KDLH 10/18)

MINNESOTA:
KMBD-LD/43 (Minneapolis) has left the air and most of its programming has been moved over to K33LN-D (Minneapolis), which had previously carried several channels from 3ABN. It's now carrying Bounce on 33.1, Escape on 33.2, Laff on 33.3, Cozi on 33.4, CBN News on 33.5, 3ABN on 33.6, and Grit on 33.7. The lineup is the same as it had been on KMBD with the exception of QVC and QVC+ being replaced by CBN and 3ABN. Both stations are owned by HC2 Broadcasting/DTV America. KMBD-LD is being displaced by the spectrum repack and has a construction permit to move to channel 20 with 3kW, a downgrade from its previous 15kW. (10/8/2018)

MINNESOTA:
The Twin Cities HD Radio lineup has seen several changes in recent months:

  • Entercom's WCCO/830 has turned off its HD signal.
  • Cumulus Media's KQRS/92.5 HD2 is back on the air with Classic Country as "The Bear."
  • Cumulus' KXXR/93.7 HD2 is back on the air with Contemporary Hits as "The Machine."
  • iHeartRadio's KFXN-FM/100.3 HD2 continues to simulcast the News/Talk format of KTLK/1130, correcting a previous report that KFXN-FM-HD2 was serving as the home of KFAN+.
  • iHeart's KDWB/101.3 HD2 has switched from iHeartRadio's Trancid channel to Pride Radio, which had previously been heard on K244FE/96.7 and KQQL-HD3. (The Trancid stream continues to run an hourly ID for KDWB-HD2.)
  • KDWB also launched an HD3 channel carrying a mixture of Pop and Country as "Minnesota State Fair Radio," which has continued after the fair ended.
  • Entercom's KMNB/102.9 HD3 switched from Radio Disney to CBS Sports Radio.
  • iHeart's KQQL/107.9 HD3 switched from Pride Radio to KFAN+ (FOX Sports Radio), continuing to feed K244FE/96.7. (10/7/2018)

ILLINOIS/WISCONSIN:
An AM station and its new FM translator just south of the Wisconsin-Illinois border launched a Hard Rock/Heavy Metal format on Oct. 1. "Rebel Radio" is heard on WPJX/1500 (Zion, IL) and W223CN/92.5 (Zion-Antioch), both of which can be heard in Kenosha County, Wisconsin. The "Rebel Radio" format has been heard on numerous stations in the region over the past quarter century, inlcuding WPJX from 2009 to 2011. The stations compete with Alpha Media Active Rocker "95.1 WIIL Rock" (WIIL Union Grove-Kenosha). (10/5/2018)

IOWA/NEBRASKA/NORTH DAKOTA:
The following new FM translators have recently signed on:

  • Indianola, IA: K232FR/94.3, relaying the Country format of KNIA/1320 (Knoxville)
  • Ainsworth, NE: K292HE/106.3, relaying the Country format of KBRB/1400
  • Jamestown, ND: K261FC/100.1, relaying the Country format of KSJB/600
  • Rugby, ND: K221GN/92.1, relaying the Country format of KZZJ/1450 (10/4/2018)

NEBRASKA:
Gray TV is again growing in Nebraska, adding ION affiliations in three markets, the CW in two markets, and, pending FCC approval, an NBC satellite in one market.

Gray has launched CW on KCWH-LD/18.1 (Lincoln) and KIIT-CD/11.2 (North Platte). Meanwhile, ION is now being carried on WOWT/6.4 (Omaha), KSNB/4.3 (Superior-Hastings-Lincoln), and KNOP/2.3 (North Platte), all of which carry NBC on their primary channels. ION is also simulcast on channel 18.2 of KCWH-LP.

Gray has also reached a deal to buy KHNL/5.1 (Hastings) from Legacy Broadcasting and has a multicast channel agreement to simulcast KCWH's CW programming on KNHL/5.3 while the deal is pending. It has also filed a satellite waiver request seeking to use KNHL's primary channel to relay KSNB's NBC programming, which had been carried on channel 5 as KHAS-TV up until 2014.

An asset purchase agreement filed with the FCC says Gray will pay Legacy $475,000 for KNHL, which now carries the religious Sonlife Broadcast Network without local advertising. KHAS-TV had been divested in 2014 when Gray bought KHAS-TV owner Hoak Media because Gray also owns CBS affiliate KOLN/10.1 (Lincoln) and satellite KGIN/11.1 (Grand Island). As a satellite, KNHL would not be subject to ownership caps.

Though KSNB and KNHL's signals do have some overlap, Gray's filing says the addition of KNHL would improve NBC's theoretical broadcast reach in the western part of the sprawling Lincoln-Hastings-Kearney market. (Both KSNB and KHNL broadcast digitally on VHF Low channels, which are easier to receive with rooftop antennas.) The market is essentially two different viewing regions long connected by the KOLN-KGIN simulcast. KSNB's NBC programming is also relayed on KOLN/KGIN-DT2. (10/1/2018)

TV MARKET RANKINGS:
Many Upper Midwest TV markets are seeing large changes in ranking amid a continued national decline in the number of TV households. According to Nielsen's local television market universe estimates for the 2018-2019 TV season, only four of the 25 TV markets serving the Upper Midwest gained households over the past year. Omaha was the biggest beneficiary of increased households, rising five spots in the rankings to become market #69. Cedar Rapids-Waterloo and the Quad Cities each rose four positions and Green Bay rose two. Meanwhile, Des Moines showed the biggest decline, dropping seven positions to #75. Madison, Lincoln, Bismarck, and Sioux Falls each dropped five positions; Duluth and Fargo each dropped four positions; Marquette, Traverse City, and Quincy dropped two positions, and Rapid City, Sioux City, Rochester-Austin-Mason City, and La Crosse-Eau Claire each dropped one position. Minneapolis remained #15 nationally despite a 1 percent drop in TV households in the market. Overall, the Upper Midwest lost about 3.1 percent of its TV households, compared with a national decline of about 1.7 percent. (9/30/2018)

WISCONSIN:
Morgan Murphy Media, which owns the CBS-TV affiliates in Madison and La Crosse and a radio group in Platteville, is among several investors joining Good Karma Brand's purchase of two radio stations in Milwaukee. Good Karma Brands Milwaukee, LLC, reached a deal to buy WTMJ/620 and WKTI/94.5 from Scripps Broadcasting earlier this year. It filed a new FCC application last week showing that Craig Karmazin's Good Karma Broadcasting, LLC will keep 52 percent of the Milwaukee company, with the other 48 percent going to new investors. An FCC filing says they include Gale Klappa (10 percent), Judith Klappa (10 percent), the Gruber family's nj2wi LLC (4 percent), Marcus Equity Partners LLC (2 percent), and "insulated members" (22 percent). A report by Morgan Murphy Media's WISC-TV suggests the insulated partners are Morgan Murphy Media and Ted Kellner. The FCC filing says the insulated members "will have no material involvement, directly or indirectly, in the management or operation of the Company's media activities." (9/26/2018)

MINNESOTA (UPDATED):
After a brief return to the far northern Twin Cities metro airwaves, it appears the "Big Q" Oldies format is now HD3/online-only. Three weeks ago, "The Big Q" simulcast on WLKX/95.9 (Forest Lake), W298CE/107.5 (Big Lake-Princeton), and WQPM/1300 (Princeton) had switched to Rock-based Classic Hits as "Killer Bee Radio." The change to "Killer Bee" has elicited numerous complaints on the station's Facebook page. Last week, WQPM switched back to "The Big Q," but then returned to "Killer Bee" by Saturday (9/29). Meanwhile, the HD3 signal of KLCI/106.1 (Elk River) had initially switched over to "Killer Bee" but is now back to "Big Q," which is also again streaming at bigqradio.com. W298CE is required to relay WQPM as a condition of its most recent facility change since it was obtained using an AM revitalization waiver. (9/25/2018, updated 9/30)

NEW FM TRANSLATORS ON THE AIR:
The following new FM translators, granted as part of the FCC's AM Revitalization effort, are now on the air:

  • Morris, MN: K299BX/107.7, relaying the information-based format of KMRS/1230.
  • Yankton, SD: K245DA/96.9, relaying the News/Farm/Talk format of WNAX/570 after WNAX's former FM translator adopted an HD2-fed format (see earlier report)
  • Durand, WI: W297CH/107.3, relaying the Country format of WRDN/1430.
  • Fond du Lac, WI: W229DE/93.7, relaying the Oldies format of WFDL/1170 (Waupun) (9/24/2018)

NEW FM TRANSLATORS GRANTED:
The FCC recently granted the following new FM translators. The Sauk Rapids application was part of the AM Revitalization filing windows, while the others are a result of an auction resolving conflicting 15-year-old applications:

  • Dubuque, IA: K282CF/104.3, 13W, University of Northwestern-St. Paul
  • Gladstone, MI: W280GB/103.9, 250W, Sister Grace Inc.
  • Menominee, MI: W256DW/99.1, 55W, Sister Grace Inc.
  • Sauk Rapids, MN: W239CU/95.7, 250W, to relay WBHR/660 (granted after application reinstated)
  • La Crosse, WI: W297CT/107.3, 250W, Sister Grace Inc.
  • Oshkosh, WI: W239CV/95.7, 250W, Sister Grace Inc. (9/24/2018)

DTV RF CHANNEL CHANGES:
The following RF channel changes have recently occurred due to the national TV band repack:

  • International Falls, MN: KQDS-FOX translator K45JD-D moved to channel 20 as K20NR-D
  • International Falls, MN: KRII-NBC/CBS translator K47NW-D moved to channel 22
  • Virginia, MN: KQDS-FOX translator K47IR-D moved to channel 22
  • Brookings, SD: KDLT-NBC transaltor K40FZ-D moved to channel 17 as K17NF-D
  • Brookings, SD: KTTW-FOX translator K50DG-D moved to channel 25 as K25OU-D
  • Eau Claire, WI: ABC affiliate WQOW/18.1 moved from 15 to 25
  • La Crosse, WI: WPT-PBS station WHLA-TV/31.1 moved from 30 to 15
  • La Crosse, WI: ABC affiliate WXOW/19.1 moved from 48 to 28
  • La Crosse, WI: KTTC-NBC translator W50DR-D moved to channel 34 as W34FC-D
  • Bloomington, WI: WPT-PBS translator W22CI-D moved to channel 16 as W16DU-D (9/24/2018)

WISCONSIN:
A pair of shared-time low-power FM stations in Milwaukee has gone off the air after losing their tower site. Faith Community Development Corporation's WPJQ-LP/101.3 and Inner City Development Project's WKJJ-LP/101.3 carry a mixture of Gospel, R&B, Hip-Hop, and Jazz. Notifications of suspension of operations filed with the FCC say the stations went silent on Sept. 10 and they are working to find a new tower site. (9/20/2018)

MINNESOTA/SOUTH DAKOTA/WISCONSIN:
Numerous stations have recently informed the FCC that they are operating at reduced power for various reasons:

  • Central Baptist Theological Seminary's WCTS/1030 (Maplewood-Minneapolis) had temporarily used 5kW during the daytime after is 50kW transmitter was lost to fire, but it has returned to full power. A new transmitter has been installed and was dedicated on Wednesday (9/19).
  • Minnesota Public Radio's KNSE/90.1 (Austin) is transmitting at 83 percent of its usual 6kW due to a failed power amp module.
  • Midwest Communications' KELO-FM/101.9 (Sioux Falls) is using backup equipment to transmit at 25 percent of its usual 100kW after an early August lightning strike damaged transmission equipment.
  • Saga Communications' KMIT/105.9 (Mitchell, SD) is transmitting at half of its usual 100kW after a Sept. 7 lightning strike damaged its antenna.
  • Midwest Communications' KDKE/102.5 (Superior-Duluth) is transmitting at 85 percent of its usual 100kW due to "causes yet to be discovered" with its transmitter.
  • Cumulus Media's WNAM/1280 (Neenah-Menasha) normally uses different daytime and nighttime directional antenna patterns, but is using the nighttime pattern around the clock due to a failure in the control system used to remotely switch patterns. WNAM uses 5kW day and night. (9/20/2018, updated WCTS item 9/21)

NEBRASKA:
The owner of four small non-commercial stations in Nebraska and three other states has surrendered their licenses after an FCC inquiry into their operational status. They include KTTE/90.1 (Humboldt, NE) and other stations Better Public Broadcasting Association had owned in Colorado and Oklahoma.

The FCC began an investigation into KTTE's status after the owner of the station's licensed tower site alleged that it hadn't had a transmitter there since 2013. Last month, the FCC sent a letter asking Better Public Broadcasting to provide documentation of the station's operation since 2014. A trustee for the organization then sent a letter surrendering the licenses of KTTE and the other three stations, saying that they had left the air due to "health issues with the primary member of the licensee."

It doesn't appear KTTE ever offered any long-term programming - it had applied for its license to cover in 2012 and, a month later, filed what would be the first in a series of requests for special temporary authority to remain silent. Its existence as a licensed station allowed KIMI/107.9 to move from Humboldt to Malvern, IA, since FCC rules wouldn't otherwise have allowed a change that removed a community's only license. (9/19/2018)

MINNESOTA:
Christensen Broadcasting has signed on two FM translators in southwestern Minnesota with large coverage areas, using one to relay an AM station and the other to carry a format originating on an HD Radio subchannel. K231DG/94.1 and K257FP/99.3 both transmit from the KSMN-TV tower near Chandler with 250 Watts and antennas at about 343 meters above average terrain, giving them coverage roughly equivalent to that of a 3kW/91m station (the original maximum for class A stations). The translators have strong signals to Slayton and fringe coverage of Worthington, Luverne, and Pipestone. K231DG relays the Farm/Country format of Christensen's KLOH/1050 (Pipestone). K257FP had previously transmitted from Pipestone and relayed KLOH, but now carries a Contemporary Christian format originating on the HD3 signal of Christensen's KJOE/106.1 (Slayton) as "KD Radio." KJOE as well as Christensen's KISD/98.7 (Pipestone), which carries Oldies, also transmit from the Chandler tower. (9/15/2018)

SOUTH DAKOTA:
Midwest Communications' KQSF/95.7 (Dell Rapids-Sioux Falls) has switched to Contemporary Hits, dropping its previous Classic Hits format but keeping the "Q95.7" name with an updated logo. The syndicated format debut came after a few days of stunting with dramatic readings of well-known song lyrics. The new "Q95.7" competes directly with Townsquare Media's "Hot 104.7" (KKLS-FM Sioux Falls), which has been operating at reduced power since April due to storm damage. This is apparently the first time since the early 1980's that the city has had two competing local Top 40 stations. KQSF rimshots Sioux Falls with a 25kW signal from north of town and is part of a seven-station cluster that also includes Country, Adult Contemporary, Rock, Talk, and Sports formats. (9/13/2018)

NORTH DAKOTA:
The University of North Dakota is selling its pair of Grand Forks radio stations to Prairie Public Broadcasting, which has been providing programming on the stations for nearly two decades. The sale price is $220,000. KUND-FM/89.3 carries Prairie Public's main network of NPR News and Classical music, while KFJM/90.7 is the flagship for an Adult Alternative, Folk, and Jazz format heard mostly on HD2 signals elsewhere in the state. The sale also includes translator K202BK/88.3 (Thief River Falls, MN). The stations compete for public radio listeners with Minnesota Public Radio's News and Classical networks. (9/13/2018)

MINNESOTA:
A network of signals in the far northern Twin Cities metro area has switched from "Big Q" Oldies to a Rock-based Classic Hits format as "The Killer Bee." The format is heard on WLKX/95.9 (Forest Lake), W298CE/107.5 (Big Lake-Princeton), WQPM/1300 (Princeton), and the HD3 signals of KLCI/106.1 (Elk River) and KDDG/105.5 (Albany). Outside of morning drive, the format runs without announcers and promises no more than one commercial break per hour. "The Big Q" had first launched on KLCI-HD4 in 2013 and was added on WQPM and the translator in 2014 and WLKX in 2015. The stations are co-owned with the Country "Bob FM" network heard on KLCI, KDDG, and KBGY/107.5 (Faribault). (9/12/2018)

IOWA:
KYOU-TV (Ottumwa) has added CW on channel 15.4, replacing Escape. The change happened on Sept. 1. KYOU also carries FOX on 15.1, NBC on 15.2, and Grit on 15.3. The CW didn't have a previous over-the-air home in the small Kirksville-Ottumwa market, which has only two stations. KYOU is owned by American Spirit Media and operated by Raycom, which is in the process of buying the station outright as Raycom itself is sold to Gray TV. (9/11/2018)

MINNESOTA:
After the cancellation of Joe Soucheray and Patrick Reusse's afternoon shows, "1500 ESPN" (KSTP) has moved its former midday team to afternoon drive. Phil Mackey and Judd Zulgad, who had previously been heard from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., are now joined by Manny Hill and doing a show from 3 to 6 p.m. "until further notice," it was announced Monday afternoon. KSTP is running ESPN Radio at other times. The Hubbard Radio station also has several full-time positions open which Mackey Tweeted are for a "new digital, Minnesota sports media platform."

Soucheray and Reusse's show had also been syndicated regionally. KDAL/610 (Duluth), WNMT/650 (Nashwauk-Hibbing), WJON/1240 (St. Cloud), and KWLM/1340 (Willmar) have all replaced Soucheray and Reusse with the syndicated Markley and Van Camp, airing from 1 to 4 p.m. on KDAL and KWLM and 2 to 5 on WNMT and WJON. (9/10/2018, added KDAL/WNMT info 9/11)

IOWA:
A non-profit group headed by the general manager of a commercial radio station in south-central Iowa is buying a financially-challenged non-commercial station in northeastern Iowa. The Postville Chamber of Commerce signed on KPVL/89.1 (Postville) in 2002 with a goal of unifying the diverse meatpacking community, but long-term funding failed to materialize and the station ended most programming efforts in 2015. Recently, KPVL has been operating at reduced power with a mix of Classic Hits. Now, Community Public Media is buying the station for $100. The buyer is headed by Rick Watts, who is also the GM of KBOE/KMZN in Oskaloosa, with his wife Elisa Watts as well as Alex Watts also involved in the organization. Its mission statement says it intends to reflect the diversity of the community and serve its "education, information, cultural, and entertainment needs." (9/9/2018)

WISCONSIN:
The FCC has approved the sale of WBJZ/104.7 (Berlin) to Woodward Communications, dismissing a petition to deny from a company that had formerly operated the station. Martini Broadcasting had programmed WBJZ with a Hot Adult Contemporary format since 2008, but owner Caxambas Corporation reached a deal to sell the station to Woodward earlier this year. Woodward is now using the station to rebroadcast Rocker "Razor 94.7" (WZOR Mishicot-Green Bay). Martini contended that it had the right of first refusal to buy the station, but Caxambas says that right expired in 2013. Now, the FCC's Audio Division says that Martini lacks standing to file a petition to deny and instead treated the complaint as an informal objection, but says Martini failed to show that Woodward is not a qualified licensee or that the sale would not be in the public interest. The letter notes that the Commission leaves contractual disputes to the local courts and that there has been no court order preventing the transfer of the license. (9/9/2018)

IOWA:
UNW Media Holdings is spinning off a pair of western Iowa small-town stations it bought earlier this year. Crawford County Broadcasting, which has ties to two other stations in the region, is buying KDSN/1530 and KDSN-FM/107.1 (Denison) for $1.15 million.

That's $100,000 less than UNW Media Holdings, a subsidiary of the University of Northwestern-St. Paul, paid for the stations when it bought them from Mikadety Radio Corporation earlier this year.

UNW bought the stations as it proposed moving KDSN-FM to 104.9, retaining its current 6kW, so that Northwestern's KNWI/107.1 (Osceola-Des Moines) can upgrade. Closing will not take place until the FCC has approved the modification applications for both KDSN-FM and KNWI, though the buyers began operating the stations under a time brokerage agreement on Sept. 1.

Crawford County Broadcasting is owned by J.C. Van Ginkel, James M. Field, and Rodney R. Christensen, who also own KNOD/105.3 (Harlan) and KJAN/1220 (Atlantic) through different companies. (9/5/2018)

DTV CHANNEL CHANGES:
The transition to fall has brought changes to digital TV lineups in several markets:

Quad Cities: Gray TV's KWQC added H&I TV on channel 6.4.

Marquette: H&I's website says the network is "coming soon" to WZMQ/19.5.

Milwaukee: Channel 12.2 of WISN-TV made its anticipated switch from Movies! Network to Justice Network. Movies! moved to WYTU-LD/63.3, which is owned by Movies! distributor Weigel Broadcasting. Meanwhile, the new Start TV network launched on WDJT/58.5 and WYTU-LD/63.2. WYTU-LD2 had previously carried This TV; Weigel Vice Chairman Neil Sabin told the Journal Sentinel that ThisTV was not renewed.

Minneapolis: Channel 4.2 of CBS' WCCO-TV, and satellite KCCW/12.2 (Walker), made their anticipated switch from Decades to Start TV. Decades' website says a Minneapolis new affiliate is "coming soon." (9/4/2018)

News archive...

Newspaper/Web Articles

Star Tribune: WCCO Radio operations manager abruptly leaves station (11/15)
Star Tribune: After 30 years, popular Cities 97 'Sampler' CD comes to an end (11/12)
KCCI: KCCI names Allison Smith news director (11/8)
Star Tribune: Anchor Kelcey Carlson raises profile with new duties at Fox 9 News (11/7)
Star Tribune: Garrison Keillor gets nostalgic in return to Twin Cities stage (11/5)
St. Paul Pioneer Press: Boyd Huppert, Cathy Wurzer look back on radio journalism school marking 50 years (10/28)
MinnPost: Distinctive Grand Rapids-based Northern Community Radio explores the world through a local lens (10/25)
St. Paul Pioneer Press: First Avenue set to buy St. Paul's Fitzgerald Theater from Minnesota Public Radio (10/24)
Star Tribune: KARE's weekend anchor Camille Williams announces her departure (10/24)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Longtime Milwaukee TV anchor and 'Contact 6' newsman Tom Hooper dies (10/22)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin Broadcasters Association chair-elect Nancy Douglass resigns amid criticism over attack ad targeting Randy Bryce as a 'deadbeat' (10/10)
WLUK-TV: FOX 11's Tom Milbourn announces retirement (10/9) Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Kathy Mykleby, Milwaukee's longest-serving TV news anchor, is retiring from WISN-TV (10/4)
Star Tribune: Mark Rosen announces his departure from WCCO-TV after 50-year career (10/2)
Star Tribune: Has KDWB morning show host Dave Ryan finally grown up? (9/30)
Star Tribune: Leah McLean leaving most KSTP anchor duties, will take on reporting (9/26)
CBC News: Radio host fired over transgender comments sues former employer Rogers for $1.4M (9/20)
KSTP-TV: KQRS Radio Host Tom Barnard, Lawyer's Estate Settle Lawsuit (9/19)
Star Tribune: Chris Thile drops final three members of Garrison Keillor's 'Prairie Home' cast (9/18)
Des Moines Register: Dave Busiek announces his retirement after 29 years as KCCI news director (9/12)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: A small radio station helped fight racism in Northwoods. Now it's fighting for its life. (9/13)
Duluth News Tribune: Glenn Maxham, Twin Ports broadcasting pioneer, dies at 88 (9/11)
Star Tribune: WCCO's Angela Davis to join MPR as 11 a.m. program host (9/3)
Older articles...