FCC Monitor: More Low-Power TV Activity as Deadlines Near

William Penn University’s KWPU/90.5 (Oskaloosa) applied to upgrade from 1kW to 3.9kW, remaining on its existing tower.

Edge Spectrum applied to downgrade future low-power TV station K31PP-D (Sioux City) from 15kW to 100W. The station faces a Sept. 6 construction deadline.

The FCC approved changes to Gray TV future low-power TV station K30QY-D (Oakland) to move its transmitter just over the Iowa border to a tower near Northwood, where it would transmit with 800 Watts using a highly directional antenna covering a small rural area. The station faces a July 7 construction deadline. (07/04/2022)

FCC Monitor: Cedar Rapids-Market FM Goes Silent

George S. Flinn’s KRQN/107.1 (Vinton-Cedar Rapids) notified the FCC that it went off the air June 5 as a result of a lightning strike that damaged equipment. KRQN had been carrying the USA Radio Network since Townsquare Media’s agreement to operate the station expired last year.

Minn-Iowa Christian Broadcasting requested the callsign KJGA for its future station on 89.7 in Osage.

Roseland Broadcasting applied to transfer low-power TV station K16NY-D (Sioux City) to related company SagamoreHill of Minneapolis for $1. (06/27/2022)

Catholic Broadcaster Buys Permit for New Western Iowa FM

After losing to another applicant for a new western Iowa FM station, Catholic broadcaster St. Gabriel Communications is buying the winner’s construction permit.

An agreement filed with the FCC indicates St. Gabriel will pay Faith Lutheran Church $5,000 for the permit for a new station on 88.7 in Odebolt. Both parties had applied for the frequency and the FCC selected Faith Lutheran Church because its proposed facility will provide the first non-commercial service to more people than the St. Gabriel application would have.

As part of the application to assign the authorization, St. Gabriel certified that it will comply with a condition of the permit that requires the permittee/licensee to construct the station with facilities “substantially as proposed” and operate it for a period of at least four years.

The permit calls for a 100kW/51m (class C1) facility transmitting from a tower near Faith Lutheran Church in Odebolt, providing a rimshot signal to Denison and Carroll.

St. Gabriel Communications and co-managed Trinity Communications operate Iowa Catholic Radio, which is heard on three stations and one translator in central Iowa.

St. Gabriel Communications was granted construction permits for new stations in Albia, Mason City, and Stanley, Wis., as a result of the same filing window in which the Odebolt station was approved. (06/24/2022)

FCC Monitor

A construction permit was granted for a facility change by Lowcountry 34 Media’s K27LD-D (Salix) from 3kW to 1kW.

The FCC approved new extensions to the construction deadlines for Edge Spectrum low-power TV stations K22LJ-D (Mason City), K35PA-D (Mason City), and K31PP-D (Sioux City). The new deadlines are Sept. 6.

One Day Church Project was granted a construction permit for a new station on 88.1 in Rochester. The new station will transmit from a tower near Kasson with 20.5kW/102m (class C3). (05/30/2022)

Broadcast History: Surviving Three-Letter Callsigns in the Upper Midwest

A recent Inside Radio story about Saga Communications’ efforts to restore the KSO callsign in Des Moines raises the interesting topic of the continued use of historic three-letter callsigns in the region.

In fact, of the six remaining three-letter callsigns still used in the Upper Midwest, five area in Iowa and used by nine total AM, FM, and TV stations. Most are in central Iowa.

WOI (Ames) exists on AM, FM, and TV, split between two entities. Iowa State University owns the radio stations, which carry public radio formats and are in the process of being officially transferred to Iowa Public Radio. The TV station, channel 5, is an ABC affiliate that was once owned by ISU but later sold to commercial broadcasters and is now owned by Tegna.

WHO (Des Moines) continues on AM and TV, also split between two entities. iHeartRadio owns WHO/1040 carrying News and Conservative Talk, while Nexstar owns NBC affiliate WHO-DT/13.

iHeart also owns two other three-letter callsign stations in Iowa that carry News and Conservative Talk: WMT/600 (Cedar Rapids) and WOC/1420 (Davenport).

Meanwhile, southwestern Iowa is home to KMA/960 (Shenandoah) and KMA-FM/99.1 (Clarinda), which are locally-owned and simulcast a Farm/News/Talk format. A report on their 2019 sale detailed KMA’s history.

The only other remaining three-letter callsign in the Upper Midwest is WHA, used by Wisconsin Public Radio’s WHA/970 (Madison) and PBS Wisconsin flagship WHA-TV/21.1 (Madison).

It’s interesting to note that of the 11 facilities listed here, only six primarily brand themselves with their historic callsigns. Outside of legal ID’s, the public media stations are known by their network names while WOI-DT uses the moniker “Local 5” with the web brand “We Are Iowa.”

Minnesota has not had a three-letter callsign since the University of Minnesota’s WLB became KUOM in 1945. Omaha’s legendary WOW callsign was lost when 590 became KOMJ in 1999 followed by 94.1 switching to KSSO in 2000, though it lives on in spirit with WOWT/6.1 (formerly WOW-TV), and WOW Radio Online, an internet only radio station in northern Iowa.

So, what about bringing back three-letter callsigns? It’s difficult. The FCC has allowed three-letter callsigns to be transferred to other stations when they have not yet been surrendered, but once they’re given up, there’s no guarantee of getting them back.

United States Early Radio History has a comprehensive list of all of the three-letter callsigns still in use nationally. (05/30/2022)

News & Notes

Rick Gevers reports that Dan Clouse is leaving the news director’s office at Red River’s FOX 21 (KQDS-TV Duluth) to take the same role at Allen Media CBS affiliate KIMT/3.1 (Mason City-Rochester). Clouse previously worked at KIMT as an anchor/reporter in the 1990s.

Scripps announced that Dave German is leaving the general manager role at CBS affiliate KMTV/3.1 (Omaha) to take the same role at a station in Texas. German had been at KMTV since October.

Inside Radio recently reported on Saga Broadcasting’s efforts to restore the KSO callsign to KRNT/1350 (Des Moines). Most people may remember KSO as being on the 1460 facility that is now KXNO, but the KSO callsign was originally used by a station in Clarinda that moved to Des Moines and became KRNT in 1935. (05/30/2022)

FCC Monitor: Austin, MN, PBS Station Back to Full Power

The FCC approved special temporary authority for K239CR/95.7 (Indianola) to continue operating while its license renewal application remains pending. As noted previously, the station did not apply for its initial license until after the most recent renewal filing deadline, and the issue was discovered during preparation for a station sale.

Lowcountry 34 Media’s K27LD-D (Salix), covering the Sioux City area, applied to switch from 3kW to 1kW. The station reported in February that it had gone off the air.

PBS station KSMQ/15.1 (Austin) reported that it returned to its fully-licensed power, which is 319.2kW, on April 26 after completing a transmitter replacement project. (05/16/2022)

FCC Monitor: Two FM apps dismissed

An FCC Public Notice says potential bidders in the upcoming Auction 112 featuring a half-dozen Upper Midwest full-power TV licenses include Gray TV, Weigel’s TV-49 Inc., TCT’s Radiant Life Ministries, Major Market Broadcasting, BEK Sports Network, and Sinclair Television, among others. The exact allotments being sought by each applicant have not been publicly revealed. A reader points out that Gray TV committed to applying for the Eagle River and Freeport allotments when it proposed their additions.

Faith Lutheran Church was granted a construction permit for a new station on 88.7 in Odebolt, using 100kW/51m (class C1). The new station will provide a good signal to Denison and Carroll with Storm Lake must outside of the main coverage area. The grant comes a month after the FCC identified Faith Lutheran as the tentative selectee for the frequency; St. Gabriel Communications’ application for 88.7 in Carroll and Minn-Iowa Christian Broadcasting’s application for 88.7 in Eagle Grove have now been dismissed. (05/03/2022)

FCC Monitor: Settlement Among Applicants for Southern Minn. FMs

The FCC granted Edge Spectrum’s requests for tolling of the deadline to construct new facilities for displaced low-power TV stations, setting the new deadline on Sept. 6. The stations were displaced by the spectrum auction repack. They include: K20KF-D (Davenport, IA), The FCC said Edge has shown that its efforts to construct the new facilities were hindered by “tower siting and equipment manufacturing and installation delays.” It also ordered Edge to provide a written update on the status of construction on July 15.

Four applicants who had applied for six non-commercial stations in southern Minnesota have reached a settlement agreement that could see four of the applications granted, after some modifications:
One Day Church Project will amend its application for a new station on 88.1 in Claremont to instead specify 88.1 in Rochester using 20.5kW/102m (class C3) from a site west of Rochester.
Park Public Radio will amend its application for a new station on 88.1 in Blooming Prairie to instead specify 88.1 in Belmond, IA, using 25kW/55m (class C3) and serving rural north-central Iowa between Mason City and Fort Dodge. (04/27/2022)

FCC Monitor: Quad Cities FM Translator to Relay iHeart Station

Radio by Grace’s K296GZ/107.1 (Muscatine), which is currently licensed to transmit with 10W from Milan, IL, applied to move its transmitter to a tower along I-280 in Davenport with 250W. The new facility would provide a strong signal to most of the Quad Cities area. The application specifies that it would carry the HD3 channel of iHeartMedia’s WLLR-FM/103.7 (Davenport).

Edge Spectrum returned the construction permit for unbuilt low-power TV station K27MI-D (Mason City). The permittee had previously sought tolling of the Jan. 10, 2022 construction deadline. (04/20/2022)

Update: Omaha Gets NextGen TV Signal Carrying Major Networks

NextGen TV (ATSC 3.0) arrived in Omaha on April 19, with the market’s first NextGen signal carrying the HD streams of the local ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC affiliates.

Mitts Telecasting’s KXVO/15.1 (RF channel 29), which is managed by Sinclair Broadcast Group, is serving as the host station. In addition to its own channel carrying the TBD network, KXVO relays the existing signals of Scripps CBS affiliate KMTV/3.1, Gray NBC affiliate WOWT/6.1, Hearst ABC affiliate KETV/7.1, and Sinclair FOX affiliate KPTM/42.1.

Three of the stations are now originating KXVO’s existing programming in ATSC 1.0 format, which is the standard that can be received by all existing digital TV’s. KPTM (RF 26) carries 15.1 TBD network, KMTV (RF 31) carries 15.2 Stadium Network, and KETV (RF 20) carries 15.3 Charge! Network.

(KXVO is a former CW affiliate. Sinclair moved the CW affiliation to KPTM/42.3 last year.)

KXVO can also be easily received in Lincoln due to is transmitter location between Omaha and the capital city.

Though 4K broadcasts are expected in the future on ATSC 3.0 signals, they are not yet on the air in the U.S. The rollout will require networks to provide 4K feeds to their affiliates and more stations to convert to ATSC 3.0, since 4K requires more bandwidth.

Omaha is the second Upper Midwest market to get a NextGen TV station carrying major network programming. Green Bay launched earlier this year in a rollout that also involved Sinclair, which has converted a number of its stations to ATSC 3.0. (04/19/2022)

Tornado Goes Past Mason City Radio Studio, Knocking Most Off Air

Most of the radio stations in Mason City, Iowa, were knocked off the air by storm moved through the area Tuesday night, April 12.

Alpha Media’s KGLO/1300 and Coloff Media’s “98.7 Kiss Country” (KSMA-FM Osage-Mason City) were the only local commercial radio stations on the air at one point Wednesday.

Alpha’s stations posted images and videos on social media showing that the tower that holds the studio-transmitter link antennas for their five stations was knocked down.

The National Weather Service issued a preliminary damage assessment Wednesday evening confirming an EF-1 tornado passed right by the Alpha Media studio in the eastern part of Mason City at about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. The twister had peak winds of 100-110 mph and travelled for about four miles.

Alpha’s “93.9 The Country Moose” (KIAI), “Super Hits 102.7” (KYTC Northwood), “Star 106” (KLSS), KRIB/1490, and KRIB translator K244FA/96.7 were all knocked off the air. All transmit from different sites.

KLSS morning announcer Joe Malone and KGLO news director Bob Fisher explained in a Facebook video that the fallen STL antenna was somehow still able to feed the KGLO transmitter site south of town:

Fisher was on the air as the storms moved through and said in the video that he had not previously had any fear of being in the building during severe weather coverage, but this time there was “a 30-second to one-minute timeframe where I wasn’t sure what was going on.”

Some of the stations were able to continue streaming, but the KIAI and KYTC streams were carrying static as of Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, Coloff’s “103.7 The Fox” (KLKK Clear Lake) was also knocked off the air amid power outages in the area.


New Channels in Cedar Rapids, Omaha, & Rochester

Several subchannel additions in recent months have not yet been noted here. They include:

Cedar Rapids: Tri-State Christian Television’s KWKB (Iowa City) added DigiTV on 20.7 and Newsmax on 20.8. It also began running “coming soon” slates on channels 20.9 and 20.10. KWKB is in the Cedar Rapids market and also reaches the Quad Cities over the air.

Omaha: Hearst’s KETV added TrueReal on channel 7.4 and getTV on 7.5. Meanwhile, KQMK-LD is carrying Defy on 25.1, Decades on 25.2, Newsy on 25.6, and Twist on 25.7.

Rochester: Hubbard’s KAAL (Austin) completed previously-reported additions of Defy on channel 6.3, TrueReal on 6.4, and Newsy on 6.5. (04/15/2022)

FCC Monitor: WOWT submits license modification application

Gray TV NBC affiliate WOWT/6.1 (Omaha) submitted a Next Gen license modification application showing that it will be part of the market’s “lighthouse” ATSC 3.0 signal on KXVO (RF 29), which is expected to sign on later this month. Earlier filings have shown that KXVO’s NextGen signal will also simulcast Scripps CBS affiliate KMTV/3.1, Hearst ABC affiliate KETV/7.1, and Sinclair FOX affiliate KPTM/42.1.

The FCC has approved iHeartMedia’s applications to move the transmitters of K235CD/94.9 (Omaha) and K272FE/102.3 (Council Bluffs-Omaha) about 1km to the east due to the impending demolition of its present site. K235CD will increase power from 110 Watts to 250 Watts, while K272FE will remain 99 Watts. The translators are fed by KISO-HD2 and KFFF-HD2. (04/13/2022)

FCC Monitor: IPR License Transfers

Iowa State University, the University of Iowa, and the University of Northern Iowa submitted filings formally seeking the transfer of their licenses to Iowa Public Radio following a vote by the Board of Regents earlier this year. The 19 full-power stations and 7 translators include ISU’s WOI/640 and WOI-FM/90.1 (Ames), the U of Iowa’s WSUI/910 and KSUI/91.7 (Iowa City), and UNI’s KHKE/89.5 and KUNI/90.9 (Cedar Falls). The transfer is not expected to result in any actual changes since IPR has been running the stations since 2004.

The Douglas County School District’s KIOS-FM/91.5 (Omaha), which is the city’s NPR station, says there have been delays in equipment needed to get the station back to its full power of 55kW ERP. The news comes in a request for an extension of special temporary authority to transmit with 1.15kW. (04/04/2022)

Omaha Set to Get NextGen TV on April 19

Omaha is set to get its first NextGen TV (ATSC 3.0) signal on April 19, simulcasting the local ABC, CBS, and FOX affiliates.

FCC filings show Mitts Telecasting’s KXVO/15.1 (RF channel 29), which is managed by Sinclair Broadcast Group, will serve as the host station. It will relay the existing HD signals of Scripps CBS affiliate KMTV/3.1, Hearst ABC affiliate KETV/7.1, and Sinclair FOX affiliate KPTM/42.1.

In exchange, the three stations will originate KXVO’s existing programming in ATSC 1.0 format, which is the standard that can be received by all existing digital TV’s. KPTM (RF 26) will carry 15.1 TBD Network, KMTV (RF 31) will carry 15.2 Stadium Network, and KETV (RF 20) will carry 15.3 Charge! Network.

None of KXVO’s current channels will be carried on ATSC 3.0 format. (KXVO is a former CW affiliate. Sinclair moved the CW affiliation to KPTM/42.3 last year.)

KXVO can also be easily received in Lincoln due to is transmitter location between Omaha and the capital city.

Though 4K broadcasts are expected in the future on ATSC 3.0 signals, they are not yet on the air in the U.S. The rollout will require networks to provide 4K feeds to their affiliates and more stations to convert to ATSC 3.0, since 4K requires more bandwidth. (03/31/2022)

Story Television Launches in Milwaukee, Des Moines, Omaha

New digital TV subchannel Story Television has launched on Hearst stations in Milwaukee, Des Moines, and Omaha.

The new Weigel Broadcasting network, carrying historical content that originally aired on A&E and History, launched March 28 on WISN-DT/12.4 (Milwaukee), KCCI-DT/8.4 (Des Moines), and KETV-DT/7.3 (Omaha).

Story Television uses daily themes: Military & Combat Mondays, Tech & Innovation Tuesdays, World Events Wednesdays, American History Thursdays, Modern Marvels Fridays, Unexplained Phenomena Saturdays, and Biography Sundays. A marathon of one program airs some days, while a mix of shows airs on others.

Story Television is Weigel’s sixth network, joining Decades, MeTV, H&I, Start TV, and Movies! Network.

Story and MeTV are also being carried on budget streaming service Frndly TV. (03/29/2022)

NPR News/Talk to Upgrade to Full-Power Quad Cities Signal

WVIK/90.3 (Rock Island) has announced plans to switch to a full-time NPR News/Talk format, with Classical music moving to a smaller signal and an HD subchannel.

The announcement comes two years after WVIK launched a full-time News/Talk format on WVIK-HD2 that was later added on translator K289BI/105.7. WVIK’s main signal has continued to carry a traditional public radio mix of NPR news magazines and Classical music, simulcasting with the News/Talk service in morning and afternoon drive.

WVIK General Manager Jay Pearce told the Quad City Times that the switch will happen this summer, telling the paper that K289BI’s signal will be improved before the change has been made.

K289BI currently transmits with 220 Watts from the Black Hawk College campus in Moline, delivering a strong signal to Moline, Rock Island, and Bettendorf but only fringe coverage to most of Davenport. It has not yet filed an application with the FCC for a facility change.

The format adjustments will follow a national trend that has seen many legacy public radio stations move towards news-based formats over the last few decades, with Classical music moved to smaller signals.

In an explanation of the upcoming changes on its website, WVIK said the new Classical service will continue to offer locally-hosted programs and local performances.

“In fact, we hope to become an even stronger advocate for the arts when we launch a 24/7 Classical Music station, not just playing locally hosted music, but sharing news about the entire arts community,” the station wrote.

WVIK is owned by Augustana College. It says the college stopped covering the station’s deficits several years ago and its overall reserve trends are down, which was a factor in the decision.

The station says it has no plans to downsize and currently has two open positions, for development and community engagement.

The Quad Cities are also served by several Iowa Public Radio signals that offer News/Talk programming during the day and Adult Alternative music at night. IPR’s 24-hour Classical service can be heard in the Quad Cities from KSUI/91.7 (Iowa City).

WVIK is also relayed on K240DZ/95.9 (Dubuque); IPR’s two FM services also have stations in Dubuque. (03/18/2022)

Iowa GM’s to Oversee Minnesota, SD stations in New Gray TV VP Roles

The current general managers of two Gray TV stations in Iowa have been promoted to regional vice president roles that will have them oversee several other Upper Midwest markets.

Thom Pritz, the GM of KCRG (ABC/CW, Cedar Rapids), will oversee KSFY (ABC/CW, Sioux Falls), KDLT (NBC/FOX, Sioux Falls), KBJR (NBC/CBS, Superior-Duluth), KDLH (CW, Duluth), and KYOU (FOX/NBC/CW, Ottumwa).

Sue Ramsett, the GM of KWQC (NBC, Davenport), will oversee KTIV (NBC/CW, Sioux City), KEYC (CBS/FOX, Mankato), KMNF-LD (NBC/CW, Mankato), and KTTC (NBC/CW, Rochester). KTTC also runs SagamoreHill’s KXLT (FOX, Rochester).

The promotions are part of a series of changes announced in response to the resignation of Chris Mossman from his role as Senior Vice President-Local Media for Gray TV. (3/11/2022)

13 Upper Midwest Low-Power TV Licenses to be Returned

The FCC reached a consent decree with low-power TV station owner Lowcountry 34 Media, LLC, resolving an investigation into whether Lowcountry abused the FCC’s licensing processes.

Specifically, since September, the FCC had been investigating whether “Lowcountry engaged in an abuse of process through its filing of serial minor modification applications to construct and license temporary facilities with the intent of relocating certain low power television and TV translator stations’ substantial distances (greater than 30 miles and without contour overlap) from their originally authorized sites in circumvention of the Commission’s major modification.”

The process is commonly referred to as “hopping.”

FCC rules intend that stations be constructed to provide permanent service. However, according to the consent decree, there were at least 30 cases in which “the use of temporary equipment was employed in order to facilitate a series of repeated moves” and that some stations only operated for a matter of days before going silent and applying for a facility change.

Lowcountry’s business plan apparently was to utilize the Commission’s minor modification application process to relocate the facilities distances greater than 30 miles, without contour overlap, and never permanently operate them at the location specified in the construction permits it acquired from prior licensees and in some cases applied for itself. The Bureau believes that Lowcountry’s actions and filings amounted to an abuse of the Commission’s licensing processes and potential violation of section 74.787 of the Rules.

Consent decree between FCC Media Bureau and Lowcountry 34 Media, LLC Lowcountry will pay a civil penalty of $250,000 and return dozens of licenses, including 13 in the Upper Midwest. The licenses to be returned include: K24KD-D (Salix, IA), K22OS-D (Brainerd, MN), K36QL-D (Hewitt, MN), K19NC-D (Rushmore, MN), K21PF-D (Sauk Centre, MN), K24OM-D (St. Cloud, MN), K23PT-D (Wells, MN), K34QZ-D (Wells, MN), K16NV-D (Bismarck, ND), K20OY-D (Horace, ND), K23PR-D (Valley City, ND), W06DL-D (Merrill, WI), and W35EA-D (Merrill, WI).

It is also selling dozens of other stations, while retaining some others. (3/9/2022)

Standard General to Buy WOI-TV, WQAD, KARE; KLKN Goes to Cox

Standard General will be the new owner of Minneapolis NBC affiliate KARE 11 and two ABC affiliates in Iowa as Standard General’s current station in Nebraska goes to Cox Media Group.

The series of transactions was announced Tuesday after months of speculation about who would buy Tegna, the current owner of ABC affiliates WOI-TV/5 (Ames-Des Moines) and WQAD/8 (Moline-Quad Cities), and CW affiliate KCWI/23 (Ames-Des Moines), and KARE.

First, Standard General affiliate Community News Media LLC will sell its existing stations to Cox, including ABC affiliate KLKN/8 (Lincoln, NE), the ABC affiliate in Providence, RI, and the FOX affiliate in Cape Girardeau, MO. KLKN will be Cox’s only station in the Upper Midwest.

Then, an affiliate of Standard General will by Boston FOX affiliate WFXT from Cox to serve as the “anchor” of the new station group. Cox and funds managed by affiliates of Apollo Global Management will hold a non-voting interest in the new entity.

Third, Standard General will buy Tegna for an equity value of about $5.4 billion, making it a privately-held company.

Finally, Standard General will sell stations in the Austin, Dallas, and Houston markets to Cox. The stations include ABC affiliate WFAA (Dallas), which is the largest independently-owned network affiliate by market rank.

Nationally, the Standard General affiliate will own stations in 12 of the top 25 markets, the largest of which will be Washington, DC (CBS affiliate WUSA-TV).

In the Upper Midwest, it will take Tegna’s place as the third-largest TV owner by household reach.

Standard General’s Soo Kim will serve as chairman of the new entity and Deb McDermott, who now runs Community News Media, will become CEO. McDermott previously worked in executive roles at Media General and Young Broadcasting.

Tegna’s news release announcing the sale says the new Standard General entity will be the country’s largest minority-owned, woman-led broadcast group.

The transaction has already been approved by Tegna’s board but still needs approval from Tegna shareholders and federal regulators.

Tegna and its predecessor, Gannett, have owned KARE since 1982. The transaction will represent the first sale of a major network affiliate in the Twin Cities since FOX bought WFTC in 2001. (02/23/2022)

FCC Monitor: More New FM’s Granted

The FCC granted St. Gabriel Communications a construction permit for a new station on 89.3 in Mason City using 150W/68m (class A).

Minn-Iowa Christian Broadcasting received a construction permit for a new station on 89.7 in Osage using 25kW/85m (class C3). (See running list of new NCE FM grants)

Des Moines’ “Que Buena” Sold to Current Programmer

The company that already operates a Spanish-language radio station in the Des Moines area is buying the license itself.

Paperwork filed with the FCC indicates Darwin Salas’ SIG Salas Investment Group is buying KXLQ/1490 (Indianola) and K239CR/95.7 (Indianola) from Birach Broadcasting for $550,000. The buyer already operates the stations under a time brokerage agreement.

They carry a Tropical format as “La Que Buena.”

The deal does not include K295CB/106.9 (Des Moines), a translator owned by Youngers Broadcasting of Colorado. 106.9 continues to be mentioned in KXLQ’s imaging and social media posts.

K239CR transmits from southeast Des Moines, while K295CB transmits from northeast Des Moines and has a construction permit to change its frequency to 94.1.

“La Q Buena” primarily competes with Latin World Broadcasting’s “La Ley” (KDLS-FM/105.5 Perry-Des Moines) and “La Reina” (KDLF/1260 and K243CO/96.5 Boone). (02/22/2022)

New DTV Subchannel “Story Television” to Launch Next Month

The Upper Midwest is likely to have some affiliates of the new Story Television when it’s launched by Weigel Broadcasting next month.

A news release says ownership groups that will carry Story TV, which launches March 28, include Weigel and Hearst. Both companies own stations in Milwaukee while Hearst also has stations in Des Moines and Omaha; exact affiliates weren’t immediately announced.

Like many other recently-launched networks, Story TV will draw on content originally created for cable TV networks — in this case, historical content from A&E and History.

The lineup will include “Biography,” “The Men Who Built America,” “World War II in HD,” “Modern Marvels,” and “Mankind: The Story of All of Us.” The network plans to build each day’s lineup around a theme, similar to the strategy used by Weigel’s Decades Network when it first launched.

“At Weigel, we are always looking for opportunities to offer audiences access to free, quality programming options they can enjoy on any television set,” said Donna D’Alessandro, EVP of network content for Weigel Broadcasting Co., in a news release.

“As our newest portfolio addition, Story Television will further diversify and expand Weigel’s broadcast reach by serving those viewers in search of factually-based historical programs that will deep dive into fascinating events, people, cultural moments and more,” she said.

Story TV will be Weigel’s sixth network, joining Decades, MeTV, H&I, Start TV, and Movies! Network. (02/22/2022)

Tegna Stations Return to Mediacom after 13 Months

Tegna and Mediacom announced February 13, hours before the Super Bowl, that they have resolved a 13-month retransmission consent dispute.

The outage began Jan. 1, 2021, and had included NBC affiliate KARE/11 (Minneapolis), ABC affiliates WOI/5 (Ames-Des Moines) and WQAD/8 (Moline-Quad Cities), CW affiliate KCWI/23 (Ames-Des Moines), and various subchannels.

Mediacom is the predominant cable operator in Iowa. Its Minnesota presence is smaller but it does run cable systems in some parts of the Minneapolis market, including the southwestern suburb of Chanhassen.

A Tegna news release posted on KARE’s website notes that the agreement means Mediacom viewers who live in KARE’s market will be able to see the Super Bowl and the last week of the Winter Olympics, both of which are airing on NBC.

In total, the outage had affected a dozen markets nationwide where Tegna and Mediacom overlap, only three of which have a Tegna NBC affiliate (Minneapolis, St. Louis, and Phoenix).

The agreement comes just a week after Tegna and DISH patched up a months-long dispute. (02/22/2022)

FCC To Allow Commercial Use of Some FM Frequencies in Iowa

The FCC has decided to allow future commercial use on four FM frequencies in Iowa that had previously been reserved for non-commercial use.

The vacant allotments that will likely go up for auction include:

Asbury, Iowa: 98.7 class A (6kW/100m). Canton (Ill.) Seventh-Day Adventist Church once had an unbuilt construction permit for this frequency, which would rimshot Dubuque.

Keosauqua, Iowa: 102.1 class C3 (25kW/100m). Fairfield Youth Advocacy once had a construction permit for this frequency but did not build it.

Moville, Iowa: 97.1 class A (6kW/100m). Iowa Public Radio once had an unbuilt construction permit for this frequency, which would rimshot Sioux City.

Rudd, Iowa: 101.5 class A (6kW/100m). Extreme Grace Media once had an unbuilt construction permit for this Mason City rimshot.

The FCC Order did not say exactly why it decided to remove the non-commercial reserved status from these allotments, writing that the “changes are merely a ministerial action that are necessary to reflect that these FM commercial allotments are no longer reserved for NCE use by operation of law.” The Commission did not say when the allotments might go up for auction.

Allotments in the commercial portion of the band (92-108 MHz) are sometimes reserved for non-commercial use, while the reserved band (88-92 MHz) is only used for non-commercial stations in the U.S. (02/22/2022)

FCC Monitor: More New FM Non-Comm Stations, Upgrades

Tegna CW affiliate KCWI/23.1 (Ames-Des Moines) reported that it continues to operate at half of its licensed 246kW ERP while it awaits the delivery of a new transmitter. The station first reduced power last August. Its latest filing says supply chain issues have slowed progress in getting a replacement transmitter but it currently expects delivery in May.

Following up on last week’s report about KIOA/93.3 (Des Moines) being at reduced power, two more stations have publicly reported problems that have not yet appeared in the FCC database, though immediate filings are not required. KGGO/94.9 (Des Moines) transmits from the same tower as KIOA. KGGO first reported a problem on its Facebook page Jan. 26 and reported Feb. 5 that it was still at reduced power.

Meanwhile, K229CC/93.7 (Des Moines) put up a post using similar terminology to KIOA’s original post, though K229CC transmits from a different tower site and relays KSTZ-HD2, which transmits from a third site.

Grace Baptist Church was granted a construction permit for a new FM station on 91.9 in Glidden (see running list of new non-commercial FM grants).

The FCC approved a construction permit for Spirit in Sounds Broadcasting’s KQLF/88.3 (Ottumwa) to move to 88.1 and upgrade to 10.5kW/44m (class C3).

JKJ Educational Foundation amended its application for a new 60kW station on 89.9 in Everly to instead specify 100 Watts on 89.9 in Kiron, removing it from competition with other applications.

Hubbard Broadcasting ABC affiliate KAAL/6.1 (Austin) reported that its control point is now located at KSTP-TV in St. Paul. The station’s news studio continues to be located in Rochester, which is in the same TV market as Austin.

iHeartMedia’s KFFF/93.3 (Bennington-Omaha) applied to co-locate at the site of KEZO/92.3 and KQCH/94.1, moving from its present location at the WOWT(TV) studio site about five miles to the southwest. The station would change from its current 8.5kW/170m to 1kW/361m and remain class C3. KFFF would be short-spaced with KKOT/93.5 (Columbus) but would transmit with less than the maximum facility for a class C3 station to prevent prohibited contour overlap (the FCC propagation curves calculator shows a maximized class C3 facility at 361m would use 1.8kW). (02/07/2022)

Tegna Stations Return to DISH

Tegna stations returned to DISH Network Friday, Feb. 4, after a nearly four-month retransmission consent dispute.

The outage had begun Oct. 6 had included ABC affiliates WOI/5 (Ames-Des Moines) and WQAD/8 (Moline-Quad Cities), as well as CW affiliate KCWI/23 (Ames-Des Moines), NBC affiliate KARE/11 Minneapolis- St Paul, Mn., and Denver NBC affiliate KUSA/9, which serves much of western Nebraska.

In total, 64 stations were affected, almost all of them big-four network affiliates. A TVNewsCheck ranking last year listed Tegna as the third-largest broadcaster in the country, reaching 39% of TV households.

Both sides issued news releases thanking customers and viewers for their patience.

“We’re pleased to have reached an agreement in time for the Winter Olympics and Super Bowl that benefits all parties, especially our customers,” said Brian Neylon, DISH TV group president.

“We are pleased to announce that we have reached a new agreement with DISH, restoring our valuable and important live local news, live local and national sports and highly popular network content to DISH TV subscribers,” said Lynn Beall, Tegna’s EVP and COO of media operations.

Terms of retransmission consent agreements and motivations for their resolution are never publicly disclosed.

However, DISH Network issued a news release on Friday afternoon noting that service was being restored in time for the Winter Olympics and Super Bowl LVI, both of which are airing on NBC. Tegna owns nine NBC affiliates in the top 25 markets. (02/07/2022)

FCC Monitor: KIOA at Reduced Power

Saga Communications’ KIOA/93.3 (Des Moines) reported that it has been operating at reduced power since Jan. 17 due to an antenna problem. KIOA is licensed for 82kW ERP but is instead using 58.5kW ERP from its licensed antenna at 325 meters above average terrain. A tower climber has been scheduled but the station says the repair process is expected to take more than 30 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic, staffing issues at the tower firm, and anticipated supply chain issues with getting antenna parts.

Honey Creek Broadcasting says that it anticipates beginning work on a new facility for KMGO/98.7 (Centerville) in the late spring, if weather and crew availability permit. KMGO requested an extension of special temporary authority to transmit with 19.5kW/124m from a site near Melrose, which it has been using since 2016 due to a lightning strike that knocked out its 100kW facility in Centerville. It has a construction permit to operate from a different tower near Melrose with 100kW/321m, which will extend the station’s main coverage area nearly to Des Moines. (02/02/22)

FCC Monitor: Competing FM App Resolved in Iowa

St. Gabriel Communications modified its application for a new non-commercial FM station in Mason City to specify 89.3, rather than 89.9, using 150 Watts at 68 meters. The change removes it from competition with Minn-Iowa Christian Broadcasting’s application for a new station on 89.7 in Osage.

Roseland Broadcasting submitted a license to cover application indicating that new low-power TV station K16NY-D (Elk Point, S.D.) has been constructed as authorized. The station transmits with 4.4kW from South Sioux City, Neb., covering Sioux City, Iowa. (01/18/2022)

KKOJ Tweaks Playlist to Classic Country

Two years after flipping to Traditional Country, KKOJ/1190 (Jackson, Minn.) and translator K249EO/97.7 have moved to Classic Country.

Jason Jacobs, KKOJ Program and Operations Director, said in an interview with the station’s “Morning Juice” that listeners enjoyed the Traditional Country format but said that they didn’t have a place to just here the older songs.

KKOJ had previously played Country songs from the `80s to today. The change gives more separation between KKOJ and sister station “Xtreme Country 105.7” (KUXX Jackson), with “Xtreme” focusing on newer songs and gold going back to the early 2000s and KKOJ now playing Classic Country hits from the `60s to the `90s.

The stations are owned by Community First Broadcasting.

No local staff was affected. KKOJ continues to air hourly newscasts from FOX, local news, weather, and sports, and ag markets. (01/11/2022)

FCC Monitor: Many New Low-Power TV Stations Built, Others Seek Tolling

Greg Wennes completed his exit from Wennes Communications Stations on Jan. 4, with an FCC filing indicating that the company is now known as LA Communications. The group includes KNEI-FM/103.5 (Waukon), KDHK/100.5 (Decorah), KVIK/104.7 (Decorah), KDEC/1240 (Decorah), KDEC translator K235CT/94.9 (Decorah), and KDHK-HD2 translator K256CS/99.1 (Waukon).

Beaver Broadcasting closed on its purchase of the Estherville radio stations from Jacobsen Broadcasting on Dec. 31. The stations include KILR-FM/95.9, KILR/1070, and KILR translator K247CJ/97.3.

Saga Communications informed the FCC that it has completed the move of K255CY/98.9 (Spirit Lake) to 98.5 as K253CV. The translator was last known to carry “Chuck FM” from the HD3 signal of KMRR/104.9 (Spencer); the station’s website still lists 98.9.

Grace Baptist Church amended its application for a new FM station in Glidden to specify 91.9 rather than 88.7, potentially removing it from competition with other applicants. The proposed 91.9 facility would use 600W/30m (class A).

Edge Spectrum requested tolling of the construction deadlines for K31LN-D (Rochester), K22LJ-D (Mason City), K27MI-D (Mason City), K35PA-D (Mason City), and K31PP-D (Sioux City), giving the same explanations as other Edge requests reported here in recent weeks. The permits, first issued a decade ago, are due to expire Jan. 10.

Gray TV told the FCC that new low-power TV stations K29OE-D (Racine), K30RA-D (Racine), and K33MW-D (Sherburn) have been constructed as authorized. K29OE-D and K30RA-D transmit with 1.55kW from a tower south of Rochester with a directional antenna pointed towards Rochester, where Gray owns KTTC and operates KXLT. K33MW-D transmits with 860 Watts from Gray’s KEYC tower near Lewisville with a directional antenna pointed southwest. Programming is unknown.

SagamoreHill of Minneapolis told the FCC that new low-power TV station K35PC-D (Rochester) has been constructed as authorized. The construction permit calls for 8.7kW from the tower used by SagamoreHill’s KXLT near Grand Meadow. Programming is unknown.

The FCC formally cancelled the construction permit for K41MP-D (Rochester), which had specified operation on a channel that has been discontinued. The station did not apply to relocate to another channel. (01/10/2022)

Gray Promotes Quad Cities News Director to Rochester GM Office

Gray TV’s news director in the Quad Cities is headed to the general manager’s office in Rochester, Minn.

The company says Stephanie Hedrick will become GM of NBC affiliate KTTC/10 (Rochester) on Jan. 10. KTTC also runs SagmoreHill FOX affiliate KXLT/47 (Rochester).

Previously, Hedrick led the newsroom at Gray CBS affiliate KOLN/10 (Lincoln) starting in 2013 and moved to NBC affiliate KWQC/6 (Davenport) in 2017.

“As our News Director at KWQC for the past four years, Stephanie has proven herself to be an outstanding leader,” Gray Senior Vice President Mike King said in a news release.

“Under her leadership, KWQC has continued to grow market share and cemented its “Everywhere” brand in the minds of the Quad Cities viewers. She is an energetic, strategic thinking team builder who will join an already high performing team in Rochester,” he said.

Hedrick replaces Bryce Caldwell, who recently moved to a larger market after Gray’s purchase of Meredith.

KTTC’s position of news director is also currently posted. KTTC is not alone in seeing management changes; Hubbard ABC affiliate KAAL/6 (Austin-Rochester) recently named a new general manager and a new news director, while Allen CBS affiliate KIMT/3 (Mason City-Rochester) has a news director opening. (01/04/2022)

FCC Monitor: FM Applicants Modify Plans, LPTV’s Seek New Extensions

The FCC approved the sale of KMRY/1450 (Cedar Rapids) and K226BO/93.1 (Cedar Rapids) from Sellers Broadcasting to Ecker Broadcasting.

Edge Spectrum requested a waiver to again extend the deadline for low-power TV station K20KF-D (Davenport) to resume broadcasting. The station’s former analog facility on channel 16 left the air in July 2020. Federal law says that stations forfeit their licenses if they are off the air for more than a year, but the FCC has narrow discretion to grant exceptions. Edge says it “has experienced significant and insurmountable challenges obtaining digital broadcasting equipment as a result of the global supply chain disruptions” and says it expects the transmitter for K20KF-D to ship on March 4, 2022. Filings say Edge and ARK Multicasting intend to construct K20KF-D as an ATSC 3.0 station.

Park Public Radio requested an amendment of its application for a new station on 88.1 in southeastern Minnesota to specify Blooming Prairie as its community of license, rather than Stewartville. The proposed 50kW/77m (class C2) facility is unchanged from the original application. The proposed amendment is under review. The application is part of mutually exclusive group 124. As noted here last week, an earlier proposal to amend the application to remove it from competition was denied. (1/2/2022)

“X1075” Brings Alternative to Cedar Rapids

KZIA Inc.’s K298BM/107.5 and KZIA-HD4 (Cedar Rapids) have launched an Alternative format as “X1075,” replacing a Comedy and Sports format that had been called “The Gym OT.”

Positioned as “Real Alternative for Cedar Rapids,” the new format includes the syndicated Dave & Mahoney morning show. Middays are hosted by KZIA VP of Programming Chris Jackson, who serves as the program director for “X1075” and worked for Dave & Mahoney in Las Vegas and Houston.

“X1075” has no direct competitor but is closest musically to the station that it’s also closest to on the dial, NRG Media’s “Rock 108” (KFMW/107.9 Waterloo-Cedar Rapids).

K298BM had been the original FM home of ESPN affiliate “The Gym,” which moved to K272GB/102.3 when it signed on in 2020 as a Revitalization translator for “Gym” flagship KGYM/1600. After then, “The Gym OT” carried other syndicated programming, including Dave & Mahoney, during the day and simulcast KGYM/K272GB overnight. Here’s an ID from mid-December:

Locally-owned KZIA carries a Contemporary Hits format as “Z102.9” on its main signal. It also originates an 80s Hits “Smart FM” format on HD2 feeding translators in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City and “The South Gym” on HD3 feeding an Iowa City translator. (1/2/2022)