H&I Replaces Antenna TV in Omaha
Southern Minnesota TV GM Moves to New Station

Quincy Media NBC affiliate KTTC/10 (Rochester) announced Friday that Marvin Rhodes has been hired as the station’s GM; he will also oversee FOX 47 (KXLT), a SagamoreHill Broadcasting station which Quincy operates through a shared services agreement.

Rhodes had worked at United Communications CBS/FOX affiliate KEYC/12 (Mankato) since 2013. (1/12/2019

Several TV Stations Change RF Channels due to Spectrum Auction


The following stations have recently changed RF broadcast channels due to the national spectrum auction repack, but likely remain on their former virtual channel numbers:

Dubuque, IA: KFXB/40.1 moved from RF 43 to RF 14. The Christian Television Network station serves remote parts of the Cedar Rapids and Madison markets.

Marshalltown, IA: KDAO-CD moved from RF 44 to RF 17.  (1/17/2019)
Walnut Radio Shuffling FM Translators in Omaha, Lincoln
K293CJ/106.5, which relays the Christian Talk format of KCRO/660, has received a construction permit to move to Lincoln on 106.7 as K294DJ; 106.5 has already gone silent pending the move.


Meanwhile, K281CJ/104.1, which relays the “Boomer” Oldies format from KOBM/1490, has received a construction permit to move to 106.5 and relocate to Council Bluffs. Moving east will reduce overlap with K233CO/94.5, which also relays KOBM in the western part of Omaha.

The move will leave KCRO without an FM translator in Omaha unless another one is obtained. (2/1/2019)
Start TV Comes to Davenport, Omaha

As already reported here, WOWT-DT3 switched to H&I last month and Gray’s WBAY (Green Bay) added H&I and Start on its DT4 and DT5 channels last week. (2/5/2019)
Sioux City Station Sold
The broadcaster who’s been operating “La Fiesta 97.1” in Sioux City since late 2017 is seeking FCC approval to buy the station outright.

The application to transfer K246CJ/97.1 (Sioux City) and its AM originating station, KZOI/1250 (Dakota City, NE), from John Small’s Cup O’ Dirt, LLC to Joaquin Garza’s La Fiesta 971, LLC was filed during the federal government shutdown and accepted for filing this week.

The purchase price is $200,000, according to a document filed with the FCC. Garza’s Fiesta Radio, LLC has been operating the stations under a time brokerage agreement since November 2017. (2/7/2019)

Corn Country Launches in Waterloo

The 250-Watt translator signed on last fall with Christmas music.

The “Corn Country” playlist includes some current songs and gold going back to the 1970’s.

Coloff also operates Adult Contemporary, Oldies, and Sports formats in the Waterloo market. (2/20/2019)
Eastern Iowa TV Station Changes Affiliation

The change marks the first time that Spanish-language TV has been available over the air in eastern Iowa.

KWKB has cable carriage across the Cedar Rapids-Waterloo-Dubuque market and its broadcast signal also reaches the Quad Cities.

Under its previous ownership, KWKB had been affiliated with WB and then the CW, followed by ThisTV for the past several years. It continues to carry Light TV on 20.2. (2/22/2019)
Cedar Rapids TV Station Adds Subchannels

Gray TV’s KCRG-TV (Cedar Rapids) has added two new subchannels, H&I on 9.4 and Start TV on 9.5.

The station says the channels are also being carried by IMON cable, and that channel 9.2, which carries MyNetworkTV and local and syndicated programming, has been updated to HD.

Several other Gray stations have also added the channels in recent months.

KCRG is a primary ABC affiliate and also carries Antenna TV on 9.3. (3/1/2019)
Family Radio Surrenders Omaha FM Translator CP

The Christian radio network had received a construction permit for K239CO/95.7, which would have used just 2 Watts, relaying programming from KYFR/920 (Shenandoah, IA) to a small part of southern Omaha.

No reason for the decision is listed in public FCC records, but it appears the station was facing its deadline to sign on.

A low-power FM station serves a different part of Omaha on the same frequency. (3/7/2019)

Omaha AM Station to Leave Longtime Transmitter Site
The FCC has approved a plan for Walnut Radio’s KOBM/1490 (Omaha) to co-locate its transmitter with new sister station KCRO/660, leaving its longtime home in the Midtown/Hanscom Park neighborhood.

FCC records indicate KOBM’s current tower, located in a residential area, is 70 years old. The KCRO site is six miles to the northwest.

At its current site, KOBM uses 1kW nondirectional day and night, which is standard for class C AM stations; at the KCRO site, KOBM will continue to use 1kW during the day but will drop to 240 Watts at night.

KOBM serves as the flagship for the “Boomer” Oldies format, which is relayed on several FM signals.
Note: Since this original report, 1490 has changed its callsign to KIBM and the KOBM callsign has moved to 1420  (3/7/2019)


Tegna Enters Des Moines, Quad Cities with Nexstar-Tribune Spinoffs

The stations are part of a $740 million deal that includes 11 stations in eight markets nationally. Separately, Nexstar is selling eight stations in seven markets (none in the Upper Midwest) to Scripps for $580 million.

For Iowa, the move represents a splitup of Nexstar and Tribune’s current holdings: The new Nexstar will retain Tribune NBC affiliate WHO-DT/13 (Des Moines) and Nexstar’s CBS/FOX/CW operation in the Quad Cities, which includes Nexstar-owned WHBF/4 (Rock Island) and KGCW/26 (Burlington).

Tegna is known for competitive operations nationally and could bring a new level of competition to the two markets, battling with Nexstar’s stations in both markets along with Hearst CBS affiliate KCCI/8 (Des Moines) and Gray NBC affiliate KWQC/6 (Davenport).

Tegna’s press release quotes CEO Dave Lougee as calling the stations “an excellent strategic and financial fit” ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Tegna does not have any other stations in Iowa, but does own NBC affiliates KARE/11 (Minneapolis) and KSDK/5 (St. Louis).

Nationally, Nexstar is keeping Tribune’s WGN-TV (Chicago) and KTLA (Los Angeles), but is selling WPIX (New York) to Scripps. (3/20/2019)

New FM Signal On the Air in Rochester

The new translator launched at 11 a.m. Thursday, March 28, with KROC’s local hour. Its syndicated lineup includes Mike Gallagher, Clark Howard, and Sean Hannity.

The 250-Watt translator was obtained during an AM revitalization filing window. (3/29/2019)

Omaha’s “Boomer” Adds Second AM Signal
Walnut Radio’s “Boomer Radio” Oldies format in Omaha has added a fifth signal: KOTK/1420 (Omaha), which has dropped Conservative Talk.

“Boomer” is also heard on KOBM/1490 (Omaha), two FM translators, and a full-power FM signal just north of the metro. Following the change, KOBM changed its callsign to KIBM and the KOBM callsign was moved to 1420.

KIBM and KOBM have essentially the same coverage areas, but the simulcast could potentially allow Walnut to provide some separate programming on Boomer’s two FM translators (K233CO/94.5 and K281CJ/104.1) by designating each as a translator of the separate AM signals. (K233CO had relayed KOTK’s previous Conservative Talk format until it switched to “Boomer” in November.)

KOTK’s previous lineup, known as “The Answer,” had included Hugh Hewitt, Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager, and Michael Medved. (3/31/2019)

Three Upper Midwest Stations Win Crystal Awards

The region’s winners are Hubbard Radio’s “KB101” (KBHP Bemidji, MN), Fieldview Broadcasting’s KWBG/1590 (Boone, IA), and Coloff Media’s “Mix 93.5” (KCVM Cedar Falls-Waterloo).

The stations were among ten winners nationally, chosen from a pool of 50 finalists, for the award that recognizes “outstanding year-round commitment to community service.”

Also, as previously reported, Alpha Media’s KFOR/1240 (Lincoln) was presented with a Crystal Heritage Award for winning five past Crystal Radio Awards. (KBHP is one of the other seven stations in history to have received a Crystal Heritage Award.) (4/9/2019)

Court TV Announces Upper Midwest Affiliates

Court TV has announced its charter affiliate roster, which includes more than a dozen Upper Midwest stations. The broadcast network, a revival of the former cable channel, launches May 8 on most stations. The network’s website lists the following affiliates:

  • Des Moines, IA: WHO/13.4, which currently carries ThisTV, beginning in November
  • Sioux City, IA: KTIV/4.4
  • Waterloo, IA: KWWL/7.4
  • Rochester, MN: KTTC/10.4  (4/25/2019)

My Bridge Radio Adds Station near Omaha

An asset purchase agreement filed with the FCC indicates My Bridge will pay $135,000 for KZLW, which delivers a fringe signal to Omaha with a 100kW signal transmitting from 21 meters above average terrain from near Wahoo.

My Bridge owns seven other full-power stations in Nebraska, including KRKR/95.1 (Waverly-Lincoln), which overlaps with KZLW’s coverage area.

KZLW currently carries Contemporary Christian music and Bible verses as “Living Waters Radio” from a studio at Maranatha Fellowship in Bellevue. The format is simulcast on KHLW/89.3 (Tabor, IA), which is not included in the sale. (4/30/2019)

Several FM Stations Report Technical Difficulties

  • Townsquare Media’s “Q92.3” (KKHQ Oelwein-Waterloo) is operating at 50 percent of its usual 100kW while the station waits for the arrival of a transmitter retrofit. The station transmits from Oelwein, which is about 25 miles northeast of Waterloo.
  • Townsquare Media’s KROC-FM/106.9 (Rochester) is operating at 20 percent of its usual 100kW due to an issue with its transmission line and antenna. KROC-FM transmits from the KTTC(TV) tower near Ostrander, about 30 miles south of Rochester, and is relayed on K293CV/106.5 (Rochester). (4/30/2019)

Eastern Iowa TV Station Switches from Azteca to Escape

After just three months as an owned-and-operated Azteca America affiliate, HC2 Broadcasting’s KWKB/20.1 (Iowa City-Cedar Rapids) has switched its primary affiliation to Escape.


The female-oriented network of movies and crime dramas is predominately carried on subchannels in other markets.

Additionally, KWKB moved Light TV from 20.2 to 20.5 and added Laff on 20.2, Grit on 20.3, Bounce on 20.4, and infomercials on 20.6. DT1 is 720 HD, while DT2-DT4 are in 480 widescreen and DT5-DT6 are 480 4:3.

KWKB transmits from West Branch, providing broadcast coverage to Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and the Quad Cities, with cable carriage of its primary channel in Waterloo and Dubuque. (5/6/2019)

Albert Lea Station Switches to Classic Hits

KQPR/96.1 (Albert Lea) has transitioned from Classic Rock to Classic Hits but kept its “Power 96” slogan.

The April 16 change came several months after D&Z Broadcasting completed its purchase of the station. A new website and stream are planned. (5/13/2019)

Contractor Dies in Fall from Iowa TV Tower

A contractor has died after falling from a central Iowa TV tower.

KDSM (Des Moines) confirmed the death at its transmitter site near Alleman in a post on its Facebook page:

KDSM FOX 17 has been made aware of the tragic event that occurred at the tower site where KDSM’s antenna is located. A contractor was working on repairs to KDSM’s antenna when he fell and was fatally injured. At this time, no other details have been made available. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

As previously reported, KDSM has been off the air since last week due to a transmission line problem and the station had said Tuesday that workers were unable to climb the tower that day due to weather conditions.

KCCI-TV quoted a Polk County Sheriff’s lieutenant in reporting that the contractor, who worked for PCI Communications, fell from about of 1,000 feet up the tower.

KDSM is owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, while the 2,000-foot tower is owned by American Tower. (5/22/2019)

Our Tower (In the Middle of the Street)?


The application from Panther Communications’ KWIA/100.9 (Newell) requested special temporary authority to transmit from downtown Newell with 25 Watts, saying that the station’s licensed transmitter site elsewhere in Newell is no longer available to the licensee.

Audio Division Senior Engineer Dale Bickel dismissed the application in a May 14 letter, saying:

“The coordinates specified in the application map to the center of S. Fulton Street, just north of 3rd Street. It is obvious that no antenna supporting structure can be erected there, and no explanation by the licensee of what is intended has been supplied in the STA request. “

Last December, the FCC rejected a different proposed temporary facility for KWIA because it would have transmitted from Storm Lake and not provided a strong enough signal to Newell. The latest letter noted that KWIA has presumably been off the air since at least December since the filings said the licensed tower site is no longer available.

KWIA was first licensed in 2015 with a 100-Watt facility. As a class A station, it could potentially be upgraded to 6kW to reach Storm Lake. (5/23/2019)

Update: Des Moines FOX Affiliate Returns on NBC Subchannel

A day after a contractor was killed in a fall while trying to return Des Moines FOX affiliate KDSM to the air, the station’s programming has been moved to a subchannel of another station.

Tribune Broadcasting NBC affiliate WHO-TV announced Wednesday that it had begun temporarily carrying the programming of KDSM, owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, on channel 13.3. The move displaces both Antenna TV on 13.3 and This TV on 13.4.

The two stations already had a relationship since WHO produces KDSM’s 9 p.m. newscast.

KDSM had still been available on Mediacom cable since it went off the air last week due to a transmission problem, but DISH Network and DirecTV had been unable to carry the station since they receive its signal over the air.

Posts on the station’s Facebook page indicate KDSM went off the air last Friday, May 17, and engineers found the problems to be bigger than they first expected. They learned that there had been a “catastrophic burn-out of the station’s transmission line.”

A contractor, whose name has not been released, died Wednesday, May 22, after reportedly falling from about 1,000 feet up the 2,000-foot tower near Alleman. (5/23/2019)

Southern Minnesota AM Station Back on Air

Townsquare Media’s KFIL/1060 (Preston) has returned to the air at reduced power following an April lightning strike.

FCC filings indicate KFIL went off the air April 11 due to extensive lightning damage. The station said in its initial request for special temporary authority to remain silent that its antenna tuning unit and transmission line suffered extensive damage.

A subsequent filing on May 23 says the station has been able to return to the air at about half of its normal 1kW daytime power. Repairs are underway to resume full-power operations.

The daytimer relays KFIL-FM/103.1 (Chatfield).

This item was originally posted May 22 and updated May 24. (5/24/2019)

New FM Signals in Rochester, Sioux Falls, West-Central Minnesota

New 250-Watt FM signals are on the air on Rochester, Sioux Falls, and Glenwood, Minnesota. The translators were granted during the FCC’s AM Revitalization filing windows:

iHeartMedia signed on K228FY/93.5 (Rochester), relaying “The Fan” Sports format from KFAN/1270. The FM signal began broadcasting in late April.

K228FY’s sign-on comes about a month after Townsquare Media News/Talker KROC/1340 (Rochester) signed on K245CX/96.9. (5/24/2019)

KTTC Hires New GM

For the second time this year, Quincy Media’s KTTC (Rochester) has hired a new vice president and general manager.

The company announced Friday that Bryce Caldwell will take over the position on June 24. Caldwell most recently served as the VP/GM of the FOX affiliate in Knoxville, Tennessee, and has also worked in management and sales in Nashville and Orlando.

“We’ll be working hard to continue and enhance the leadership reputation of KTTC and our full product portfolio in serving Rochester’s vibrant and growing community. I believe strongly in local television’s role in delivering independent journalism, market leading weather coverage, quality content, and meaningful community involvement,” Caldwell said in a news release.

Caldwell replaces Marvin Rhodes, who started at KTTC in January. The Rochester Post-Bulletin reported in March that Rhodes was no longer with the station.

KTTC is an NBC affiliate and also runs SagamoreHill Broadcasting’s FOX 47 (KXLT). (5/23/2019)

Cedar Rapids FOX Affiliate Off DirecTV

A retransmission consent dispute has taken FOX 28 (KFXA Cedar Rapids) off DirecTV.

KFXA is licensed to Second Generation of Iowa but operated by Sinclair Broadcast Group, which bought KFXA’s non-license assets 11 years ago. FOX 28 is operated alongside Sinclair CBS affiliate KGAN/2.

The retransmission consent agreement between the two companies expired May 31. The agreement had been extended after originally expiring March 31.

In tradition with the Kabuki theater theme for such disputes, each side blames the other: A statement posted on the KGAN/KFXA website says DirecTV “unilaterally decided to discontinue carriage” of KFXA and suggested that viewers consider another provider.

Meanwhile, DirecTV put up a slate on channel 28 saying that “the owner of this channel has removed it.” The slate directs viewers to a website that says KFXA is seeking a “substantial fee increase.”

Federal law allows stations to either opt for must-carry status (mandatory carriage without payment) or retransmission consent (carriage with payment). Since KFXA opted for retransmission consent, both sides must agree in order for the station to be carried.

Broadcasting and Cable reported that a total of 17 stations owned by small companies are currently off DirecTV due to retransmission consent disputes. (6/3/2019)

Des Moines FOX Affiliate Returns to Air

Des Moines FOX affiliate KDSM/17 has returned to the air on its own transmitter a month after a contractor died in a fall at its tower site near Alleman.

The Sinclair Broadcast Group FOX station’s programming had been simulcast on channel 13.3 of Tribune’s WHO-DT since late May.

Des Moines FOX affiliate KDSM/17 has returned to the air on its own transmitter a month after a contractor died in a fall at its tower site near Alleman.

The Sinclair Broadcast Group FOX station’s programming had been simulcast on channel 13.3 of Tribune’s WHO-DT since late May. (7/2/2019)

NE Iowa Radio Group Buys Competitor (updated with price)

The owner of several northeastern Iowa radio stations is adding two more stations to the group.

Wennes Communications Stations announced Wednesday that it will buy KDEC-FM/100.5 (Decorah) and KDEC/1240 (Decorah) from Bob and Colleen Holtan’s Decorah Broadcasting. The deal also includes the construction permit for K235CT/94.9 (Decorah), which will relay KDEC.

An asset purchase agreement filed with the FCC lists the purchase price as $1.2 million.

KDEC-FM carries an Adult Alternative format, which would be unusual for a small town except for the fact that Decorah is home to Luther College. The AM station carries Oldies and shares time with Luther’s KWLC/1240.

Wennes’ existing stations include Classic Hits-formatted KVIK/104.7 (Decorah), “Bluff Country 103.5” (KNEI-FM Waukon), and Adult Contemporary outlet “99.1 The River” (KMRV/1160 Waukon and K256CS Waukon).

A press release said no staff changes are planned.

“By combining talent, services, and excellent equipment, the overall sound and delivery of music, news, sports and informational programming will be taken to the next quality level of excellence and effectiveness,” President and majority owner Greg Wennes said in a news release.

The Holtans retain a majority interest in a pair of radio stations in Marshalltown. (Note: this item originally stated incorrectly that the Holtans held a minority interest in the Marshalltown stations, which was true until an ownership change last year.)

KDEC and KWLC are in one of the last AM time-sharing arrangements in the nation. KDEC uses the frequency during the day on weekdays, while KWLC is on the air weekday evenings and on the weekend.

KWLC’s license dates to 1926 and KDEC was licensed in 1947 after KWLC reduced its broadcast schedule.

Five years ago, the FCC granted Luther a construction permit for a low-power FM station that would have replaced KWLC, but the station was not built by the 2017 deadline.

FCC rules may allow KDEC to continue originating programming on its new FM translator signal even when KWLC is using the AM frequency.

KNEI-FM recently applied for a construction permit to move its transmitter just north of the Iowa-Minnesota border. It would remain a class C2 facility (using 26kW at 210m above average terrain) but would rimshot La Crosse while retaining coverage of Waukon and Decorah. (7/3/2019)

Nexstar Stations Off DirecTV

Thousands of DirecTV customers lost access to one or more of their local network affiliates on Independence Day due to a retransmission consent dispute between the satellite provider and Nexstar Media Group.

The dispute affects 97 markets nationally, including nine in the Upper Midwest:

Davenport: WHBF-CBS and KGCW-CW
Des Moines: WOI-ABC and KCWI-CW
Sioux City: KCAU-ABC

Nexstar says DirecTV turned down an unconditional offer of an extension until August 2. DirecTV says Nexstar is demanding a fee increase that’s larger than it’s willing to pay.

The outage comes just over a month after AT&T/DirecTV integrated nonprofit local station streamer Locast into its platforms and a week after AT&T announced a $500,000 donation to Locast. The streamer serves the Rapid City and Sioux Falls markets, but not other parts of the Upper Midwest. (7/4/2019)

Coloff Wins Auction for New FM Signal in Waterloo

Coloff Media has won an FCC auction for a new FM signal in Waterloo.

Coloff was the only bidder for the FM translator at 101.5 in FCC Auction 100, which resolved competing applications for new translators to relay AM stations. NRG Media was also qualified to participate in the auction but did not submit a bid, so Coloff won with the starting bid of $10,000.

The 250-Watt translator will relay Coloff’s KCFI/1250 (Cedar Falls), which carries a “Cruisin'” Oldies format. KCFI is already relayed on K286CI/105.1, which could potentially be switched to relay another station after 101.5 launches.

Coloff’s other stations in the Waterloo market are “93.5 The Mix” (KCVM Hudson), “Corn Country” (K293CH/106.5 and KCVM-HD2), and “1650 The Fan” (KCNZ Cedar Falls). KCNZ has a construction permit to launch FM translator K272GA/102.3 (Waterloo), so Coloff will have a total of five FM signals in the market once the two new translators are launched.

NRG had applied for 101.5 to relay KPTY/1330 (Waterloo), which is also relayed on K297BS/107.3 (Waterloo). (7/7/2019)

FCC Approves Large Upgrade for Iowa FM

The FCC has approved a large upgrade for VCY America’s KVCI/89.7 (Montezuma).

KVCI currently transmits with 3.1kW/103m (class A) and has received a construction permit to move its transmitter to a site near Bussey, using 100kW/151m (class C1). The upgrade will give KVCI a strong signal to Knoxville, Pella, and Oskaloosa and a rimshot signal to Newton.

Des Moines would be just outside of its protected coverage area, and a translator is already using the frequency in the capital city.

KVCI had applied for identical facilities in 2017, but the FCC dismissed the application the following year for failure to prosecute.

VCY is a Milwaukee-based Christian and talk network.

This story was originally posted on June 12 and updated with news of FCC approval on July 9. (7/9/2019)

Longtime Eastern Iowa TV Anchor to Retire

Longtime KCRG-TV9 news anchor Bruce Aune has announced plans to retire next year.

On Monday, Aune told viewers that he and his wife Darcy made the decision after celebrating his 70th birthday and realizing that the end of his current contract in March would be the perfect time to retire.

“Darcy and I plan to spend a lot more time together. We want to do more volunteering, mission trips and other traveling, and much more,” he said.

Aune has been with KCRG since 1986 and has anchored the 5, 6, and 10 p.m. newscasts the entire time. He’s interviewed three sitting presidents, reported from China, Japan, and Russia, and covered numerous Iowa Caucuses and major events such as the massive 2008 Cedar Rapids flood.

Your reporter was privileged to work with Bruce as the producer of KCRG-TV9 News at 10 with for a few years in the mid-2000’s. Bruce is an unflappable anchor who wouldn’t miss a beat even when his producer threw in an obscure name or was late writing scripts.

A native of Brainerd, Minn., Aune got his start at KLIZ radio 52 years ago. After serving in the Army, he moved to TV and worked at four stations before joining KCRG, an ABC affiliate now owned by Gray TV, with one of them being KIMT Mason City/Rochester. His last newscast will be on March 6, 2020. (7/15//2019)

CBSN Minneapolis to Launch by Early 2020

CBS says local versions of CBSN, its 24-hour news channel, will roll out by early 2020 in all of the markets served by its 13 owned-and-operated stations, including Minneapolis’ WCCO-TV.

CBSN has already launched local feeds for New York and Los Angeles featuring live simulcasts of local newscasts, other original news programming, and breaking news coverage. The ad-supported channels exist alongside the national CBSN feed and are available for free online and on connected TV platforms.

CBS Television Stations President Peter Dunn said in a news release that CBSN New York and CBSN Los Angeles, which launched in December and June respectively, have exceeded their expectations.

“It is clear there is significant demand for high-quality local news coverage on streaming services, and we are moving forward with excitement as we prepare to launch CBSN Local services in all 13 of our local news markets. Our accelerated rollout schedule ensures launches in all of these markets ahead of the 2020 political primaries and elections,” Dunn said.

WCCO’s version of CBSN will represent the first attempt at a local 24-hour news channel with original programming covering the Twin Cities market. (A reader reminds me that KSTP did offer a subchannel looping past newscasts in the early 2000’s.) Currently, FOX 9’s live stream offers repeats of past newscasts between live shows, while KSTP-TV and KARE offer recent newscasts on demand via the NewsOn app. (8/8/2019)

FCC Approves Upgrade for Des Moines-Area Christian FM

The FCC has approved an upgrade that will improve the Des Moines signal of Contemporary Christian station “Life 107.1” (KNWI Osceola).

KNWI and the commercial formats that preceded it have long targeted listeners in Des Moines, though the station’s 30kW/193m (class C2) facility does not deliver a city-grade (70 dbu) or protected (60 dbu) signal to the capital city. It’s owned by the University of Northwestern-St. Paul.

Now, the station has received a construction permit to upgrade to 100kW/299m (class C1) from a new tower near Lorimar. With the change, KNWI will retain its current coverage area while improving its signal to Des Moines and areas west of the city.

107.1 can’t move any closer than that to Des Moines because it’s only two steps on the dial away from KKDM/107.5.

The new facility will still not deliver a city-grade signal to Des Moines, but the city will be within its 60 dbu contour. That means it will generally be receivable on most radios in the city, but still a bit weaker than other stations.

To upgrade KNWI, UNW Media Holdings bought KDSN-FM/107.1 (Denison) and applied to move KDSN-FM to 104.9, where it will retain its 6kW signal and current coverage area. The KDSN-FM and KNWI moves were granted simultaneously on August 9.

(UNW also bought KDSN/1530 and sold the combo to Crawford County Broadcasting after the KDSN-FM frequency change application was filed.)

KNWI has always been unusual among Northwestern’s stations in that it isn’t a major core-market signal like the university’s longtime stations in Waterloo, Madison, Minneapolis, Fargo, and Sioux Falls and its recently-added stations in Omaha and Kansas City. (Also unusual about Des Moines is that it hasn’t had a core 100kW Christian station since KDMI-FM/97.3 went Country in 1993.)

KNWI’s programming is simulcast on KNWM/96.1 (Madrid), which rimshots Des Moines and Ames. Though the two station’s signals will have more overlap after the upgrade, KNWM will still have a stronger signal to Ames. (8/12/2019)

For the Record: Recent TV Frequency Changes

Here is a roundup of several recent RF channel changes that were made as a result of the FCC’s spectrum auction repack. The industry and regulators have wisely branded these “frequency changes” to avoid viewer confusion, since the stations continue to be seen on the same virtual channel numbers due to PSIP.

KMTV/3.1 (Omaha) moved from 45 to 31
KXVO/15.1 (Omaha) moved from 38 to 29
KPTM/42.1 (Omaha) moved from 43 to 26 (8/19/2019)

Update: DABL Adds Several Upper Midwest Affiliates

New lifestyle network DABL, which launches Sept. 9, has posted an affiliate list that includes several Upper Midwest markets.

Other affiliates added to the list since Monday include:

Omaha: Sinclair’s KPTM/42.2, which currently carries ThisTV and the My Network TV prime time lineup
Sioux City: Sinclair’s KPTH/44.2, which also carries ThisTV and My Network TV (8/22/2019)

Powell Launches Online Christian Station for NW Iowa

Powell Broadcasting, which operates six broadcast radio stations in northwestern Iowa, has launched an online Contemporary Christian station.

“Spirit 712” is named after the region’s area code and is based out of Le Mars, targeting a region from Sioux City to Sheldon. Even though numerous similar music streams are already available online, the station says that it’s providing local weather, announcements, and other information to make the format unique to northwestern Iowa.

The station streams through a website, mobile apps, and Alexa.

Powell’s other stations in the region include “Classic Rock 99.5” (KKMA Le Mars-Sioux City), “Y Country 101.3” (KKYY Whiting-Sioux City), Hot Adult Contemporary station “Q102” (KQNU/102.1 Onawa-Sioux City), Country outlet “K-Sioux 105.7” (KSUX Winnebago-Sioux City), News/Talker KSCJ/1360 (Sioux City), and full service outlet KLEM/1410 (Le Mars). The AM stations also have FM translators. (8/24/2019)

Nexstar Stations Back on DirecTV in Time for NFL

A week before the start of the NFL season, Nexstar and DirecTV have resolved a blackout that affected 97 markets nationally for nearly two months.

Nexstar stations had left DirecTV on Independence Day due to a retransmission consent dispute. The stations returned late on Thursday, Aug. 29.

The outage had affected stations in some Upper Midwest markets:

Davenport: WHBF-CBS and KGCW-CW
Des Moines: WOI-ABC and KCWI-CW
Sioux City: KCAU-ABC

Both companies issued statements saying the regret the inconvenience to customers. A handful of stations owned by other companies remain off DirecTV, including Cedar Rapids FOX affiliate KFXA/28. (8/30/2019)

Hard Rock Returns to Quad Cities as ESPN Moves Back to AM

wo Quad Cities stations changed format at the start of the Labor Day weekend, coincidentally returning both to formats they’d carried at the turn of the century.

As first reported by RadioInsight, Townsquare Media launched “I-Rock 93.5” on KJOC/93.5 (Bettendorf) on Friday, sending ESPN Radio back to KBOB/1170 (Davenport). The move ends a Classic Country format on KBOB and returns Hard Rock to the market.

“I-Rock” is debuting its format with a month of commercial-free music. The playlist stretches from the `90s to today with artists including Godsmack, Slipknot, Tool, Korn, Five Finger Death Punch, Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Volbeat, and Ghost.

Meanwhile, “ESPN 1170” will continue to carry “Don’t Hassle Us We’re Local” from 12 to 2 p.m., which the station says is the only local sports talk show in the market. “ESPN 1170” competes with iHeartMedia’s “FOX Sports 1230” (WFXN Moline).

1170 has a construction permit for new 250-Watt FM translator K281DB/104.1. (9/1/2019)

Sinclair Promotes Sioux City GSM to GM

Sinclair Broadcast Group has promoted the general sales manager of its Sioux City CBS/FOX operation to general manager.

Kathan Jager has been at FOX 44 (KPTH) and CBS affiliate KMEG/14 since 2012. Sinclair owns KPTH and operates KMEG through a joint sales agreement with Waitt Broadcasting.

Prior to joining KMEG/KPTH, Jager worked in sales at two other Sioux City media outlets for a combined 26 years.

“With over 30 years in media and all of those years in the Sioux City market, Kathan is extremely well suited to take the helm and will undoubtedly have an impact on the community, our viewers, advertisers and the station,” said Steve Marks, EVP & Chief Operating Officer of Sinclair’s television group, in a news release.

“I am honored to be asked to the lead the team at KMEG/KPTH,” Jager said in the news release. “This is a group of outstanding professionals that make a daily positive influence in the communities we serve. We will continue to strive to bring excellent reporting and customer service to our clients and viewers.”

Sinclair’s Sioux City group competes with a Quincy Media NBC affiliate and a Nexstar ABC affiliate. (9/11/2019)

Nexstar-Tribune Merger Finalized: What It Means for the Upper Midwest

The FCC has given its final approval to the sale of Tribune Media, a process that took so long that you’ll be forgiven if you forgot how it’s shaking out in the Upper Midwest.

Sinclair Broadcast Group first proposed buying Tribune in 2017 but Tribune pulled out the following year after FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said he had “serious concerns” about the merger as proposed. Nexstar and Tribune then announced their merger plans in December 2018.

The Nexstar-Tribune combination, which will result in the divestiture of 21 stations to three other companies, received clearance from the Justice Department over the summer. Nexstar closed on the transaction on Thursday, Sept. 19.

Here’s what the Nexstar-Tribune combination means for the Upper Midwest:

Tegna enters Iowa: Nexstar was required to spin off overlapping stations in the Des Moines and Quad Cities markets. Nexstar will keep its existing CBS/CW/FOX operation in the Quad Cities but take over Tribune NBC affiliate WHO-DT (Des Moines).

Nexstar spun off its ABC affiliate WOI-DT (Ames-Des Moines) and Tribune ABC affiliate WQAD (Moline-Quad Cities) to Tegna, along with CW affiliate KCWI (Ames-Des Moines). Tegna owns stations in Minneapolis and St. Louis but previously had no holdings in the early-voting state of Iowa, where political revenue is likely to be high in the coming months.

The change could shake up the Des Moines market, where Nexstar had already been trying to pull WOI out of its longtime distant third place in the ratings. Tegna’s WOI will compete with Nexstar’s WHO and Hearst CBS affiliate KCCI.

Nexstar grows in Wisconsin: The company will now have three markets in the state, adding Tribune FOX affiliate WITI (Milwaukee). It already owns the CBS affiliate in Green Bay and the FOX affiliates in La Crosse-Eau Claire.

Nexstar retains several other Upper Midwest markets: Its other regional holdings include CBS affiliates in Marquette, Sioux Falls, Rapid City, and Bismarck-Minot and the ABC affiliate in Sioux City.

Tribune’s big-market stations split up: Nexstar will take over WGN-TV (Chicago) and KTLA (Los Angeles), but is spinning off WPIX (New York) to Scripps.

Divestitures that didn’t end up happening: Sinclair had announced plans to sell FOX affiliate KDSM (Des Moines), among others, when it was trying to buy Tribune and WHO-DT. KDSM remains under Sinclair ownership since the deal never happened.

In Milwaukee, Sinclair had already returned the license of WCGV in anticipation of the Tribune deal, which would’ve combined Sinclair CW affiliate WVTV with WITI. WCGV had already given up its spectrum in the spectrum auction and was sharing bandwidth with WVTV; Sinclair lost must-carry rights for WCGV in returning its license. (9/16/2019)

One of Omaha’s “Boomer” Signals Moves East

One of the “Boomer Radio” FM signals in Omaha has moved to a different frequency and transmitter site.

The Oldies/Classic Hits format’s original FM signal, K281CJ/104.1, moved east to Council Bluffs and changed its frequency to 106.5 with the new callsign K293CX. The translator also changed its community of license to Council Bluffs.

The change reduces overlap with another “Boomer” signal, K233CO/94.5, which covers most of Omaha.
< The format is also heard on KBLR/97.3 (Blair), KOBM/1420 (Omaha), and KIBM/1490 (Omaha). The stations are owned by Walnut Radio. (9/18/2019)

FCC Reverts Status of FM Station Said to be Transmitting from Parking Lot

The FCC has rescinded its earlier grant of an Omaha-area low-power FM station’s permanent license after a national LPFM advocacy group questioned whether the station has actually constructed a permanent facility.


The South Omaha Hispanic Family Education Foundation applied for a license to cover the construction permit for KXOM-LP/101.1 (Bellevue, NE) on August 23, which was the deadline for getting the station on the air. The application stated that KXOM-LP was using a facility specified in a permit granted two days earlier.

The specified tower site appears to be in a parking lot along Iowa side of the Missouri River in Lake Manawa State Park. The CP specifies 100 Watts from an antenna 6 meters above the ground.

The informal objection from REC Networks says the KXOM-LP site is 120 feet from the river and in a floodplain. The document says REC is awaiting word from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources about whether KXOM-LP has permission to build a tower at the site.

The FCC had granted KXOM-LP a license to cover but then rescinded the grant after REC filed its objection. (REC has also recently filed objections against more than a dozen LPFM license to cover applications from groups that list Dan Alpert, KXOM-LP’s contact representative, as their representative.)

The permittee had not filed a response to REC’s objection as of Friday morning, Sept. 20.

The original application for the station listed three people with a mailing address at a church in Bellevue as the directors of the South Omaha Hispanic Family Education Foundation. The application also listed the church as being the main studio location for the proposed station.

The church’s website does not appear to have any mention of radio. (9/19/2019)

Southern Minnesota Classic Hits Station Rebrands

Townsquare Media has rebranded one of it southern Minnesota Classic Hits outlets to “Fun 104.3.”

KVGO/104.3 (Spring Valley) had previously been known as “Cool 104,” a slogan adopted two decades ago when the station carried an Oldies format. The playlist had moved towards Classic Hits over the years.

“Fun 104.3” posted audio of its Thursday 8 a.m. launch on its website. The new ’70s to ’90s format, positioned as “Southeast Minnesota’s Greatest Hits,” will feature 104 minutes of commercial-free music at the beginning and end of the workday. Sarah Sullivan hosts from 10 to 3 and James Rabe is on from 3 to 7.

KVGO is operated alongside Country outlet KFIL-FM/103.1 (Chatfield) from studios in Preston. The stations provide rimshot coverage of Rochester, where Townsquare also has a seven-station group including Classic Hits outlet “103.9 The Doc” (KDOC-FM Eyota).

KVGO and KDOC-FM compete with Classic Hits outlet “Minnesota 97-5” (KNXR), a standalone station in Rochester owned by Blooming Prairie Farm Radio. (9/29/2019)

Nexstar Hires New GM for New Des Moines Station

Just over a week after closing on its purchase of WHO-TV/13 (Des Moines) as part of a larger merger with Tribune Media, Nexstar has named a new general manager for the station.

The company announced Monday that Robert “Bobby” Totsch has been hired as WHO-TV’s GM effective immediately. Totsch most recently worked for Sinclair’s group in Mobile, AL, and has also worked in the Kansas City and St. Louis markets.

It appears that Totsch replaces Dale R. Woods, who left WHO two years ago.

Nexstar had previously owned ABC affiliate WOI-TV/5 (Ames-Des Moines), which it spun off to Tegna as part of the Tribune purchase. (9/30/2019)

Two Format Changes Follow Iowa Station Sale

Wennes Communications Stations is changing the formats of both stations it recently bought in Decorah, Iowa.

On Monday, Sept. 30, Wennes launched K235CT/94.9 (Decorah) to relay KDEC/1240 and switched both to a simulcast of its “River” Adult Contemporary format already heard on Wennes’ K256CS/99.1 and KMRV/1160 (Waukon). KDEC had previously carried Soft Oldies.

Then Tuesday, Oct. 1, KDEC-FM/100.5 launched “Hawk Rock” as KDHK after dropping its Adult Alternative format. The new format is a mix of new and classic rock.

Wennes also owns “Bluff Country” KNEI-FM/103.5 (Waukon) and Classic Hits station KVIK/104.7 (Decorah). It bought KDEC AM-FM from Bob and Colleen Holten’s Decorah Broadcasting for $1.2 million and closed on the purchase in late August.

KDEC-FM has also been granted a construction permit to upgrade from its present 30kW/150m to 43.3kW/162m, remaning class C2. It would move to a different tower, maintaining its current coverage and extending farther southwest.

Mason City TV Station Gets 5th Owner in 10 Years

CBS affiliate KIMT/3.1 (Mason City-Rochester) is getting its fifth owner in ten years, now going to Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group as part of a national deal.

Allen is buying KIMT and stations in eight other small and medium markets from USA TV/Heartland Media for $290 million. Allen and his companies also own four TV stations in two markets, in addition to full ownership of The Weather Channel and eight other national networks and part-owner of 21 regional sports networks. Allen’s Entertainment Studios produces 64 programs, and the company also makes and distributes theatrical movies.

KIMT has been affected by numerous industry mergers and sales over the past decade, with previous owners including New Vision Television, LIN TV, and Media General. USA TV/Heartland had owned the station since 2017, when Nexstar spun off the station to comply with ownership caps when it bought Media General.

Besides CBS on its primary channel, KIMT carries MyNetworkTV on 3.2, ION on 3.3, and Antenna TV on 3.4. It competes with Hubbard ABC affiliate KAAL (Austin-Rochester) and Quincy NBC/FOX operation KTTC/KXLT (Rochester). (10/1/2019)

Iowa Station Sold after Being Owned by Same Family for 94 Years

Southwestern Iowa radio duo KMA/960 (Shenandoah) and KMA-FM/99.1 (Clarinda) are getting new local owners, marking the first time in KMA’s 94-year history that it will not be owned by the May family.

KMALAND Broadcasting, LLC is buying the stations from Ed May Junior’s KMA Broadcasting L.P. for $2.9 million, according to an asset purchase agreement filed with the FCC. KMA was founded by Earl May in 1925; it was later passed it on to Ed May, Sr. and then Ed May, Jr.

KMA reported that May, Jr., who is turning 65, wants to spend more time travelling and with his family, and that none of his three children are interested in the business. The buyers say May sought out local owners for the station. “We are excited about maintaining local ownership of KMA Broadcasting and humbled by the responsibility of maintaining the great tradition that has been KMA for the last 94 years. As local residents of the KMA listening area, we believe that KMA is part of the fabric of who we are,” the buyers wrote in a statement posted on KMA’s website.

KMALAND Broadcasting, LLC is owned by:

Judith I. Wischik, Shenandoah (20%), board member Gregg Connell, Shenandoah (10%), board member Pam Ditmars, Shenandoah (10%) William Ditmars, Shenandoah (10%), board member James Doyle, Randolph (10%), board member Melonie Doyle, Randolph (10%) Jake McGargill, Imogene (10%), board member Pam McGargill, Imogene (10%) Nancy Maher, Shenandoah (10%)

KMA and KMA-FM simulcast a Farm/News/Talk format that consists of local information programming from 5:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 5 to 7 p.m., with syndicated talk from hosts such as Dave Ramsey and Jim Bohannan at other times. KMA’s 5kW signal reaches parts of four states day and night, while KMA-FM transmits with 100kW.

KMA has an interesting history, being one of two stations founded in Shenandoah by rival seed companies in the mid 1920’s: Earl May owned Earl May Seed and Nursery Company, while Henry Field of Henry Field Seed and Nursery founded KFNF. May’s station remains a commercial success decades later, while KFNF’s facilities were eventually assumed by non-commercial Family Radio station KYFR/920.

John Schneider wrote more about the stations’ rivalry in his article, “The Friendly Farmer Stations.”

Both seed companies remain in business, with the May family still owning 30 Earl May Garden Centers in four states. May Broadcasting also signed on KMTV, channel 3, in Omaha in 1949 and owned it until 1986.

Earl May was inducted into the Nebraska Business Hall of Fame in 2015. (10/2/2019)

Previously-Granted Upper Midwest FM Stations Up for Auction Again

Here are the allotments, listed by their largest potential market:

Mason City, IA: 92.9 licensed to Rockford, class A (6kW/100m), $25,000 opening bid. Radioactive LLC previously won this allotment in 2005 with a $482,000 bid. KYME received its license in 2008 but filed repeated requests for special temporary authority to remain silent, and the FCC ultimately canceled its license in 2015 after the station acknowledged being off the air for more than a year.

Waterloo, IA: 103.9 licensed to Dunkerton, class A, $60,000 opening bid. Ace Radio Corp. won this allotment in a 2006 auction with a $455,000 bid and later sold it to Magnolia Radio Corp., but the FCC deleted the license in 2014 after a long-term outage.

Auction No. 106 is scheduled to begin April 28, 2020. (10/10/2019) 

Rock Returns to Fort Dodge

Alpha Media’s KZLB/92.1 (Fort Dodge) has dropped Classic Hits/Rock for Hard Rock as “92 Rock,” bringing the format back to the market after an absence of seven years.

The new format launched on Oct. 3 and was followed by a week of remote broadcasts. The new playlist is positioned as “past, present, powerful.”

92.1 had previously carried an Active Rock format as “The Blaze” from 2008 to 2012.

The group’s website says KZLB will continue to carry Fort Dodge Dodger football games. The previous Rock-based Classic Hits format had been called “The Eagle.”

Alpha’s Fort Dodge group also includes Classic Hits outlet “105.9 The Beach” (KTLB Twin Lakes) as well as Adult Contemporary, Light AC, Country, Classic Country, and News/Talk outlets. (10/11/2019)

Iowa FM Station Sold to GM, Sales Exec

The general manager of KHBT/97.7 (Humboldt) and her husband, who is a senior account executive at the station, are buying it.

An asset purchase agreement filed with the FCC says Kathi and Patrick Kolar’s Open Roads Media LLC will pay Riverfront Broadcasting of Iowa $795,000 for the station. Riverfront had purchased KHBT from NRG Media in 2014 as part of a six-station deal; Riverfront has since sold some of the other stations.

Kathi Kolar is also part of the National Association of Broadcasters’ Broadcast Leadership Training Program, according to a KHBT article. She has worked in the business since 1994.

KHBT carries an Adult Contemporary format as “The Bolt” and competes with Fort Dodge signals, delivering a rimshot signal to that city.

Riverfront and its sister companies retain two stations in Algona, four in southern Minnesota, and eleven in South Dakota. (10/15/2019)

EZ Completes Return to Des Moines

The legendary EZ name has completed its return to the Des Moines radio dial.

On Friday, Oct. 18, Light Adult Contemporary station “More 104.1” renamed itself “104.1 EZ FM,” a slogan similar to the “EZ104” name the station had used decades ago. “EZ FM” continues to position its playlist as “soft and refreshing.”

As previously reported, the Saga Communications station had foreshadowed the change by switching its callsign from KMYR to KOEZ on Sept. 30. It’s officially licensed to Ames.

104.1 was known as “EZ104” under the KEZT callsign in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, later becoming “Lite 104.1” KLTI-FM and then KMYR “More 104” in 2014. In 2017, the station emerged from its annual All-Christmas format (a changer which usually occurs in mid-November) with a softer playlist.

A logo for “EZ104” seen in a 1984 newspaper ad. The “EZ FM” website only lists two current on-air voices, several fewer than a year ago at this time. Saga also owns Hot AC-formatted “Star 102.5” (KSTZ Des Moines). (10/18/2019)

Eastern Iowa Station Switches to Hard Rock

KMCS/93.1 (Muscatine) has transitioned from “Vintage Sound” Classic Rock to Hard Rock as “93.1 The Buzz, everything that rocks.”

The new format launched at 7 a.m. Monday, Dec. 9. The station’s website says the playlist will include some artists from the old format such as Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, and Van Halen along with additions like Foo Fighters, Green Day, and Greta Van Fleet.

The change comes after a nearly seven-year run for “Vintage Sound.” KMCS and sister station KWPC/860, which carries a Classic Country format and is rebroadcast on K236CF/95.1, were sold to Jonathan A. Mason’s Jam Media Solutions last year.

Muscatine is under the umbrella of several major Quad Cities stations, including Classic Rock, Country, Adult Contemporary, and Contemporary Hits formats. (12/9/2019)

New Country-Themed DTV Network Launching in January (Updated)

New Country music and lifestyle TV network Circle is scheduled to launch January 1 with affiliates in a half-dozen Upper Midwest markets.

The network is a joint venture by Gray TV and the Grand Ole Opry. Programming plans released Wednesday say Circle will launch with 16 original series including Opry Live, a show featuring performances at the Grand Ole Opry, as well as reruns of Hee Haw.

“Circle will feature original programming centered around artists and their music; hobbies; outdoor and offstage adventures; food; family; and friends. Circle will also offer entertainment news, documentaries and movies along with licensed programming and archival content. ”

The amount of original programming is unusually large for a subchannel network.

According to the network’s website, affiliates include:

KCRG 9.6 Cedar Rapids (new channel)
KYOU-TV 15.3 Ottumwa, replacing Grit

All of the Upper Midwest affiliates announced so far are Gray TV stations. Nationally, the affiliate base will include 56 Gray TV stations and six CBS-owned stations (not Minneapolis) at launch. (12/11/2019)

CBSN Minnesota Launches

CBS has rolled out CBSN Minnesota, a 24-hour news channel drawing on the assets of owned-and-operated affiliate WCCO-TV/4.

The free channel is available through the CBSN app on over-the-top smart TV platforms such as Roku, on the WCCO and CBSN mobile apps, and streaming at minnesota.cbslocal.com/live. (12/12/2019)