FCC Orders Rare 3-Way Time Share for Cedar Rapids FM Frequency

In a rarely-needed move, the FCC has ordered three applicants for a new non-commercial FM station in Cedar Rapids to come up with a plan to share one frequency.

The regulator has identified Friendship Baptist Church, Calvary Chapel Iowa, and Extend The Dream Foundation as the tentative selectees for the new station on 89.9. It directed the applicants to submit an agreement on how they will share time on the frequency within 90 days.

In almost all cases of competing applications for new non-commercial stations, the FCC is able to identify one tentative selectee using a points-based system followed by three tiebreakers. However, in this case, the three applicants scored the same number of points and none qualified to win on any of the tiebreakers.

Each scored three points for being an established local applicant and two points for diversity of ownership, which means the new station will be the only one owned by the group. (Calvary Chapel Iowa and Extend The Dream Foundation both currently own low-power FM stations that they have pledged to divest if the full-power station is granted.)

The FCC system also awards points for a proposed facility that would reach at least 10% more people than the next-closest application, but none of the applicants qualified for points in this case.

The tiebreakers concern other authorizations, other applications, and previous applications. Each of the three applicants has no other authorizations, no other applications, and no previous applications.

The three proposed stations are:

Friendship Baptist Church: 4.5kW/74m (class A), licensed to and transmitting from Cedar Rapids

Calvary Chapel Iowa: 1kW/193m (class A), licensed to and transmitting from Cedar Rapids

Extend The Dream Foundation: 10kW/105m (class C3), licensed to Swisher and transmitting from Cedar Rapids

They were among a group of seven mutually-exclusive applications for the frequency. Bible Broadcasting Network, Community Public Radio, Rising Tide Broadcasting, and Vida Ministry all scored fewer points because they are not established local applicants.

The new station(s) will reach more than 200,000 people. New full-power stations are rarely possible in cities the size of Cedar Rapids, but the frequency became available when Cornell College returned the license of KRNL-FM/89.7 (Mount Vernon) in 2020.(01/25/23)

FCC Monitor: New Iowa FM Granted

The FCC granted St. Gabriel Communications a construction permit for a new FM station on 89.9 in Spencer using 6kW/84m (class A). The decision comes after a dispute over the technicalities of when an applicant can change the proposed facilities of a station and when it can’t. The original application had sought a 22kW station and was identified as part of a group of four mutually-exclusive proposals; after an applicant in Fairmont, MN, was identified as the tentative selectee, St. Gabriel modified its application to specify 6kW, removing itself from competition with the other three applicants. Once the Fairmont station was granted and two other applications were dismissed, St. Gabriel again modified the application to change the power level back to 22kW since the only overlap was with an application that had been dismissed. The moves prompted an informal objection from Kevin Youngers, who said neither amendment should have been allowed. In its decision, the FCC said the first amendment was allowed but the second wasn’t, so it approved the 6kW facility. On the same day the application was granted, St. Gabriel applied to modify the new permit to specify 22kW.

The FCC has canceled the license of KUEL-LP/97.1 (Kensett) at the request of its licensee, Worth County Community Radio Association. (01/23/23)

WCCO Dropped from Rochester Cable

Spectrum has issued formal notice that CBS owned-and-operated WCCO-TV/4 (Minneapolis) is being dropped from cable systems in Rochester and surrounding communities. The move follows a successful FCC petition from in-market CBS affiliate KIMT/3 (Mason City-Rochester) showing that WCCO no longer meets broadcast viewership levels to qualify as “significantly viewed” in Rochester.(01/21/23)

FCC Monitor: Iowa AM-FM Pair Go Silent

KM Radio of Independence reported that KQMG-FM/95.3 (Independence) and KQMG/1220 (Independence) both went silent Jan. 1 due to equipment problems. The stations had simulcast a Classic Hits format. The area is under the umbrella of Waterloo and Cedar Rapids stations. (01/21/23)

Broadcast History: Longest TV Channel, Callsign, Affiliation Combos

When looking at broadcast history, it’s interesting to track how network affiliations have changed over time in many cities.

For example, the timeline of early TV stations in Wisconsin shows the numerous changes that happened in Green Bay and Milwaukee, where affiliations were in flux as new stations signed on (and off) in the 1950s. Later, all four major networks changed channels in Green Bay in the 1990s due to an ownership change and the FOX “affiliate raids,” the latter of which also affected Milwaukee.

Even Minneapolis has seen its share of changes over the years, with only CBS on the same channel since the station signed on (and it also had a secondary ABC affiliation for its first few years).

Many stations also changed callsigns over the decades as a result of ownership changes. A few even changed channels in the early days of TV as allotments were still being sorted out.

So, which Upper Midwest stations have had the same channel (real or virtual), primary network affiliation, and callsign for the longest?

1950 WHBF/4 (Rock Island), CBS*

1952 WCCO-TV/4 (Minneapolis), CBS* **

1953 KWWL/7 (Waterloo-Cedar Rapids), NBC

KFYR-TV/5 (Bismarck), NBC*

WEAU-TV/13 (Eau Claire), NBC*

WTMJ-TV/4 (Milwaukee), NBC* **

WGEM-TV/10 (Quincy), NBC*

1954 KCRG-TV/9 (Cedar Rapids), ABC**

WHO-TV/13 (Des Moines), NBC

KTIV/4 (Sioux City), NBC

WKBT/8 (La Crosse), CBS*

1955 WOI-TV/5 (Ames-Des Moines), ABC**

1956 WISC-TV/3 (Madison), CBS

1957 KUMV/8 (Williston), NBC*

1958 KMOT/10 (Minot), NBC*

KXMC/13 (Minot), CBS* **

1959 KXMB/12 (Bismarck), CBS* **

1960 KELO-TV/11 (Sioux Falls), CBS* **

*indicates the station also had secondary affiliations with another of the original big three networks, but it has had the same primary affiliation since the year listed

** indicates the station signed on earlier but had a different callsign, channel, or primary affiliation

Longest-running primary affiliation, channel, and callsign: WHBF/4 (Rock Island, CBS)

Longest-running primary affiliation on the same channel: CBS on channel 4 in Minneapolis since 1949 (originally WTCN-TV, changed to WCCO-TV in 1952)

Longest-running primary affiliation on a station: NBC on WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee since 1947 (the station moved from channel 3 to 4 in 1953)

It’s fitting that the oldest combination of channel, callsign, and network affiliation is in the Quad Cities, since it’s one of the few markets that has never had a primary affiliation change among major networks.

The present-day KWQC/6 is actually eight months older than WHBF and has always been affiliated with NBC, but changed its channel in 1952 and its callsign in 1986.

The only other Upper Midwest markets that have never seen a major affiliation swap are La Crosse-Eau Claire and North Platte. La Crosse-Eau Claire had two stations for the first few decades of TV (one in each city) and North Platte still has only one full-power commercial station, with other networks carried on subchannels and low-power stations.(01/11/2023)

Quad Cities FOX Affiliate Now Off Both Satellite Providers

Quad Cities FOX affiliate KLJB/18 (Davenport) is off DISH Network as a result of a retransmission consent dispute.

KLJB is owned by Mission Broadcasting and operated by Nexstar alongside two Nexstar-owned Quad Cities stations (WHBF/4 and KGCW/26), which are not affected.

The dispute affects stations owned by Mission and White Knight Broadcasting in 28 markets nationwide.

KLJB has already been off the other satellite provider, DirecTV, since Oct. 21 due to a separate dispute.

Retransmission consent disputes involve disagreements over how much a provider should pay a station for redistributing its programming on a paid platform. Details of compensation are never publicly released.

The latest outage began Jan. 6, according to DISH Network’s news release. KLJB’s page regarding the matter indicates that the contract was originally set to expire Dec. 27.

As is the custom, each side blames the other.(01/11/2023)