FCC Approves Sale of Quincy Media Stations to Gray, Allen
The FCC has given its approval to the sales of Quincy Media’s stations to Gray TV and Allen Media, with Allen buying stations in the markets where Gray already had stations.
The formal approvals showed up Friday, July 30, in the FCC database.
As detailed earlier, Gray TV’s new holdings after the $925 million purchase from Quincy will include:
Duluth: NBC/CBS affiliate KBJR/6.1-6.2 and CW affiliate KDLH/3.1, as well as KBJR satellite KRII/11.1 (Chisholm)
Quincy: NBC/FOX affiliate WGEM/10.1-10.2
Rochester: NBC affiliate KTTC/10.1 and operation of SagamoreHill FOX affiliate KXLT/47.1
Sioux City: NBC affiliate KTIV/4.1
Wausau market: WYOW/34.1 (Eagle River),
which will become a satellite of CBS/FOX affiliate WSAW/7.1 (Wausau) Stations in Peoria, Fort Wayne, South Bend, Binghamton, and Bluefield.
Meanwhile, Allen Media’s new stations as a result of its $380 million purchase include:
Eau Claire: ABC affiliate WQOW/18.1
La Crosse: ABC affiliate WXOW/19.1 (La Crosse and Eau Claire are considered the same market for regulatory and ratings purposes)
Madison: ABC affiliate WKOW/27.1
Waterloo-Cedar Rapids: NBC affiliate KWWL/7.1
Wausau: ABC affiliate WAOW/9.1, as well as satellite WMOW/4.1 (Crandon)
Stations in Rockford, Paducah, and Tucson
Allen’s only current holding in the Upper Midwest is CBS affiliate KIMT/3.1 (Mason City-Rochester). Meanwhile, Gray TV’s purchases will give it ownership of stations in 19 of 22 Upper Midwest markets, lacking only Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Des Moines.(07/31/2021)
FCC Fines Owners of Two Former Iowa Network Affiliates
The FCC has issued major fines against the licensees of 18 TV stations, including two in Iowa, for allegedly “failing to negotiate for retransmission consent in good faith.”
They include Second Generation of Iowa’s KFXA/28.1 (Cedar Rapids) and Waitt Broadcasting’s KMEG/14.1 (Sioux City). A $512,228 fine was issued for each station.
The FCC found that the licensees, who all had at least one agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group, refused to negotiate with DirecTV and AT&T, unreasonably delayed retransmission consent negotiations, and failed to respond to proposals for the retransmission of the stations.
Most of the specifics of the dispute are redacted from the publicly-released forfeiture order. The complaint was first made in 2019 and the legal process has been playing out since then.
“Retransmission consent” is when a TV station, usually a major network affiliate, opts to negotiate a carriage fee with cable, satellite, or streaming TV services. When a station opts for retransmission consent, the services are prohibited from carrying the stations unless they have an agreement.
KFXA is a former FOX affiliate and KMEG is a former CBS affiliate, but Sinclair moved both affiliations to subchannels of its own stations over the winter. (07/31/2021)
Weigel Buys Central Iowa TV Station
Weigel Broadcasting, which operates numerous networks including Me-TV and H&I, is buying a longtime Class A TV station in central Iowa.
The deal filed with the FCC Thursday calls for Weigel’s TV-49, Inc. to pay MTN Broadcasting $195,000 for KDAO-CD (Marshalltown), which is within the Des Moines market. The station was most recently known to carry the Retro TV Network.
KDAO-CD has been on the air since 1987. It transmits with 1.8kW on RF channel 17, serving an area northeast of Des Moines, and is also carried on cable systems in the Marshalltown area.
The TV station will get a new callsign, with MTN retaining the exclusive right to use the KDAO callsign on its radio stations. (07/31/2021)
Former TV News Colleagues Compete in Iowa Congressional Race
Both candidates in an eastern Iowa Congressional race are familiar faces in one TV newsroom, because they both used to work there.
State Sen. Liz Mathis (D-Hiawatha) announced Tuesday that she’s running for the First Congressional District seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Marion).
The two women’s careers overlapped in the newsroom of Cedar Rapids ABC affiliate KCRG-TV9 from 2005 to 2007, when Mathis co-anchored the 5 and 6 p.m. newscast and Hinson co-anchored mornings and middays.
Mathis left KCRG in 2007 and was elected to the Iowa Senate in 2011. Hinson left in 2015 and was elected to the Iowa House the following year, and then to Congress in 2020.
The general election is in November 2022. The matchup is not yet a certainty because other candidates could emerge to run in the primary election. (07/31/2021)
Sioux City ABC Affiliate Adds Norfolk Signal
Nexstar ABC affiliate KCAU/9.1 (Sioux City) has added coverage of Norfolk, NE, via a low-power TV station.
KCAU says in a report posted to its YouTube channel that its programming is now being relayed on a subchannel of Flood Communications’ KNEN-LD (Norfolk), saying that KCAU’s ABC channel will show up on virtual channel 9.1 via KNEN’s RF channel 35 signal.
KNEN-LD carries NewsChannelNebraska and Telemundo on other channels.
KCAU’s competitors, NBC affiliate KTIV and CBS/FOX affiliate KPTH, both operate translators in Norfolk. The only full-power TV station in Norfolk is Nebraska Public Media’s PBS station. (07/28/2021)
Christian Broadcaster VCY Buys Des Moines-Area Station
Milwaukee-based Christian broadcaster VCY America is buying an FM station in the Des Moines market.
An asset purchase agreement filed Tuesday with the FCC says VCY will pay Truth Broadcasting $825,000 for KTIA-FM/99.3 (Huxley-Des Moines). KTIA rimshots Des Moines with a 5.3kW/95m (class A) signal transmitting from north of the capital city.
KTIA and its predecessor KFGQ-FM/99.3 (Boone) have carried Christian formats for 70 years. North Carolina-based Truth Broadcasting bought the station in 2011 and moved it closer to Des Moines with the community of license change to Huxley, operating it commercially.
VCY plans to convert KTIA to non-commercial status. The network’s schedule includes traditional teaching and preaching programs, conservative political talk, and traditional music overnight.
VCY’s only other station in Iowa is KVCI/89.7 (Montezuma), which upgraded to a 100kW facility serving an area southeast of Des Moines earlier this year.
RadioInsight notes that VCY has been on a recent buying spree, including station purchases in the San Francisco and Las Vegas markets. 07/22/2021)
FCC Monitor: TV Translators, LPTV Permits Canceled
Jomast Corporation’s K280GT/103.9 (Sigourney) is off the air after a lightning strike on or about July 8. The station’s request for special temporary authority to remain silent says there appears to be damage to the antenna and possibly the transmission line. K280GT relays KMZN/740 (Oskaloosa), which also has a translator in Oskaloosa.
M&M Broadcasting’s KDLS/1310 (Perry) requested special temporary authority to transmit with 125 Watts non-directional while a tower crew works to repair damage caused by the derecho last August that impacted many Iowa stations. The station normally transmits with 500 Watts day and 300 Watts night from a three-tower array that shoots the signal west. Work was expected to begin the week of July 12 and be complete within 45 days.
The FCC approved an extension of the construction deadline for future Landover 2, LLC low-power TV station K26MG-D (Wells, MN) until January 2022. (07/22/2021)
FCC Monitor: Setting the Boundary for Big-Four Combinations
The following are updates to stories previously reported here and other recent FCC filings and actions:
A recent Notice of Apparent Liability shows the FCC’s boundary when it comes to combining big-four network affiliations under one roof. Though big-four combinations have been done in dozens of markets over the past two decades using various loopholes, it’s the procedure that Gray TV used in Anchorage that caught the FCC’s attention. The NAL says a 2016 rule change prohibits a company that owns one top-four full-power station from buying a top-four affiliation and moving it to a second full-power station that it already owns. In this case, Gray owned KTUU-NBC and KYES-MNT and acquired the rights to CBS programming from KTVA, moving it to KYES. The FCC says the move violated the 2016 rule because Gray knew it would give them two full-power stations rated in the top four. It has proposed a $518,283 fine against Gray; Gray now has 30 days to appeal. (Close readers will note that there are some other full-power big-four combinations around the country, including two in the Lincoln-Hastings-Kearney-Grand Island market, but they were assembled prior to the 2016 rule change.)
The Hispanic Family Christian Network submitted applications for licenses to cover indicating that new low-power TV stations K03IS-D (Sioux City) and K06QG-D (Sioux City) have been constructed. Programming is unknown.
Family Radio’s KYFR/920 (Shenandoah) continues to operate at reduced power due to a transmitter problem. KYFR has been using 3.5kW daytime, instead of its usual 5kW, since Dec. 2, and continues to use its licensed 2.5kW at night. Its request for extension of special temporary authority says Family Radio has arranged for a specialized engineering assessment to determine what repairs are needed.
The FCC approved an upgrade for KWTN/100.9 (Winnebago) from its present 100W/43m to 6kW/66m. The station, owned by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, had earlier dropped a proposal to move into the Sioux City market. (07/12/2021)
FCC Monitor: Des Moines FM Knocked Off Air; LPTV Filings Continue
Minority Communications’ KJMC/89.3 (Des Moines) went off the air on June 17 due to technical problems. According to the station’s request for special temporary authority to remain silent, the antenna apparently suffered lightning damage. The station, which normally transmits with 7.1kW/61m, continues to stream online.
M&M Broadcasting was granted a change the location of a future FM translator northwest of Des Moines, which will to relay KDLS/1310 (Perry). The construction permit for K232FX/94.3 was moved from Granger to Dallas Center, where it will transmit with 250 Watts. The translator faces a January 2022 construction deadline.
Educational Media Foundation “K-Love” station K281BS/104.1 (Hiawatha-Cedar Rapids) was granted a frequency change to 103.9 with the new callsign K280HA, upgrading fro 170 to 250 Watts.
The Educational Media Foundation closed on its purchase of KLDX/88.5 (Sioux Center) from Dordt University on July 1. KLDX switched to “K-Love” in May.
The FCC approved an extension to the construction deadline for future low-power TV station KEOF-LD (Fort Dodge), which DTV America is in the process of selling to Weigel Broadcasting’s TV-49 Inc., until January 2022.
Edge Spectrum requested a waiver of the statutory deadline for K20KF-D (Davenport) return to the air by July 2. K20KF was displaced from channel 20 last year as part of the spectrum repack and has a construction permit to move to channel 33, but says it doesn’t want to construct the facility until it can do so with ATSC 3.0 and a distributed transmission system.
The FCC approved an extension to the construction deadline for future low-power TV station K35PC-D (Rochester) until January 2022. Julie Huang’s Roseland Broadcasting is in the process of buying the station from DTV America. (07/04/2021)
FCC Monitor: Head-Spinning Flurry of LPTV Filings Continues
The following are updates to stories previously reported here and smaller recent FCC filings and actions that do not merit a full story of their own at this time. Many of these items are a continuation of the situation described in last week’s article, “Last-Minute Efforts Underway to Save Some Low-Power TV Permits.”
The FCC denied a petition for reconsideration from Clinton Education Association, licensee of KXJX-LP/92.5 (Clinton), over a proposed $1,500 fine for a late license renewal application. The reasoning for the decision is not listed in the FCC database.
Gray TV ABC affiliate KCRG-TV/9 (Cedar Rapids) was granted a construction permit to move to RF channel 32 with 1,000kW, but can continue remapping to virtual channel 9.1.
Weigel Broadcasting’s TV-49, Inc. is buying the construction permits for future low-power TV station KEOF-LD (Fort Dodge), as well as a permit in Mississippi, from DTV America for $50,000. The stations face July 13 construction deadlines and have both requested waivers to allow six-month extensions.(06/28/2021)
List: Some Conservative Talk Stations Turn Down Limbaugh Replacement
The midday hours on Conservative Talk radio stations in the Upper Midwest are no longer as uniform following the death of Rush Limbaugh earlier this year.
It appears more than half of the approximately four dozen stations in the region that had carried Limbaugh are now carrying the show’s official successor from iHeartMedia’s Premiere Networks, the Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show. That includes major iHeartMedia outlets such WMT (Cedar Rapids), WHO (Des Moines), and KFAB (Omaha).
But not every affiliate chose to continue with the “EIB (Excellence In Broadcasting) Network” in the 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Central timeslot. At least 15 regional stations chose other shows.
A few stations went in other directions. Midwest’s WDSM (Superior-Duluth) and WNMT (Nashwauk-Hibbing) are airing Markley, Van Camp, & Robbins, who also continue to air two hours later on Midwest’s KDAL (Duluth). Alpha’s KGLO (Mason City) also went with Markley, Van Camp, & Robbins. Flag Family Media’s WZFG (Dilworth-Fargo) and KTGO (Tioga-Williston) chose Charlie Kirk based on listener feedback. NRG’s KXEL (Waterloo-Cedar Rapids) went with a familiar voice, Glenn Beck, running on a three-hour delay.
Replacements for Rush Limbaugh:
KCPS Burlington, IA Travis & Sexton
WMT Cedar Rapids, IA Travis & Sexton
WOC Davenport, IA Travis & Sexton
WHO Des Moines, IA Travis & Sexton
WDBQ Dubuque, IA unknown
KILR Estherville, IA Travis & Sexton
KVFD Fort Dodge, IA Travis & Sexton
KGLO Mason City, IA Markley, Van Camp, & Robbins
KIWA Sheldon, IA unknown
KSCJ Sioux City, IA Travis & Sexton
KXEL Waterloo, IA Glenn Beck
KFAB Omaha, NE Travis & Sexton(06/25/2021)
FM Permits Expire
Another half-dozen construction permits for new FM signals, have expired after not being constructed by the deadline.
The permits had been issued in 2018 as part of the FCC’s AM Revitalization effort and faced three-year deadlines. The now-cancelled permits include:
Emmetsburg, IA: K267CS/101.7, which would have relayed Riverfront Broadcasting’s KLGZ/1600 (Algona). KLGZ already had an FM translator in Algona before the Revitalization filing window and would have extended its FM coverage with the Emmetsburg signal. (06/23/2021)
FCC Monitor: KIMI/107.7 Malvern in 'waiting' game
Following up on last week’s upgrade application, the Educational Media Foundation’s KIMI/107.7 (Malvern) says efforts continue to resolve interference complaints from Offut Air Force Base. The update comes in a request for an extension of special temporary authority to use reduced power of 110 Watts until the issue is resolved.
The latest filing says KIMI is waiting for the Federal Aviation Administration to change one of the frequencies used at Offut before it upgrades to cover Omaha.
Analog-Digital TV Transition to Finally End after Two Decades
More than two decades after it began, America’s transition to all-digital television broadcasting is finally set to be complete on July 13.
Though all full-power TV stations in the U.S. were required to turn off their analog signals in 2009, low-power TV stations and TV translators were allowed to continue broadcasting in analog.
Now, the FCC has reminded licensees that 11:59 p.m. on July 13 is the absolute, final, drop-dead date and time for all analog TV signals in the U.S. Stations that are still transmitting in analog and haven’t applied to switch to digital will have their licenses cancelled after that date.
Stations with unbuilt construction permits to transmit digitally will still have to turn off their analog signals. The FCC is still accepting applications from the stations that haven’t filed.
FCC records show just over a dozen stations in the Upper Midwest are still authorized to transmit in analog, but it’s not clear how many of them are actually on the air.
Analog TV broadcasting continues in rural Canada and Mexico. (06/16/2021)
FCC Monitor: Trinity Communications’ KWKY/1150 says work continues to detune tower
The Educational Media Foundation has applied to operate KIMI/107.7 (Malvern, IA) with 50kW/124m (class C2), delivering a rimshot signal to Omaha. Regular readers will recall that two previous attempts to build a station on 107.7 in the Omaha market have been thwarted by complaints of interference to air navigation at Offutt Air Force Base. KIMI has been temporarily using 110 Watts while it worked to resolve the issue, which is not mentioned in the latest application. The FCC granted a license to cover for the station on 107.9 in Humboldt, NE, in 2017, but FCC records show it has been transmitting from Iowa on 107.7 since 2013 under a series of temporary authorizations.
The Educational Media Foundation’s K281BS/104.1 (Hiawatha-Cedar Rapids) applied to move to 103.9 and increase from 170 to 250 Watts. K281BS was last known to carry “K-Love” from WLKU/98.9 (Rock Island) but lists KXGM/89.1 (Hiawatha-Cedar Rapids), which carries “Air1” on its primary channel, as the station to be rebroadcast after the facility change.
M&M Broadcasting has applied to change the location of a future FM translator northwest of Des Moines, which was granted during the AM Revitalization effort to relay KDLS/1310 (Perry). M&M is seeking to move K232FX/94.3 from Granger to Dallas Center, where it would transmit with 250 Watts. The translator faces a January 2022 construction deadline.
Trinity Communications’ KWKY/1150 (Des Moines) says work continues to detune a Warren County public safety radio tower a few hundred feet from the station’s directional antenna array. KWKY is seeking an extension of special temporary authority to operate at 25% of licensed power and with a variance from licensed parameters, with the hope that the work will be completed within 30 days. It normally uses 2.5kW day and 1kW night, with different day and night directional patterns. (06/15/2021)
Iowa AM Station Returns License, Programming Continues on FM
A longtime northeastern Iowa radio station has gone off the air permanently, with its format continuing on two FM translators and an AM station and FM HD subchannel in a nearby community.
An attorney for Wennes Communications Stations sent a letter to the FCC on June 3 informing the regulator that the license of KMRV/1160 (Waukon) was being surrendered for cancellation.
KMRV’s “River” Adult Contemporary format continues on K256CS/99.1 (Waukon), now originating on the HD2 signal of KDHK/100.5 (Decorah). The format is also carried on KDEC/1240 (Decorah) and K235CT/94.9 (Decorah).
KMRV had been operating at reduced power from a temporary facility after the lease for its licensed site was not renewed in 2019. The station said in a request for an extension of special temporary authority last fall that the pandemic had caused decreased revenues and “severely limited station personnel from establishing a permanent location from which to operate the station.”
KMRV was a sister station to KNEI-FM/103.5 (Waukon).
FCC records indicate Ralph Sweeney first signed on KNEI/1140 as a 250-Watt daytimer in 1968, and it was upgraded to 1kW daytime a few years later. The station moved to 1160 in 2005, allowing it to add a 26-Watt nighttime signal.
KMRV is the sixth Upper Midwest AM license deleted in the last 18 months. (06/12/2021)
FCC Monitor: Central Iowa station to slightly downgrade following collapse
Following a partial tower collapse last winter at the site of KOEZ/104.1 (Ames-Des Moines), a new filing from the station says it does not intend to reconstruct the tower to its previous height. The tower had formerly been 313m (1,025 feet) tall but will be permanently kept at 282m (926 feet). As a result, KOEZ applied to downgrade slightly from 100kW/308m above average terrain (class C0) to 100kW/277m above average terrain (class C1). It has been temporarily using 58kW/166m from the tower. KOEZ is owned by Saga Communications.
The FCC cancelled the construction permits for K246CV/97.1 (Cedar Rapids) and K257GQ/99.3 (Centerville), which were granted during the AM Revitalization window but were not built by mid-May deadlines. K246CV would have relayed WSUI/910 (Iowa City), bringing Iowa Public Radio’s 24-hour News service to Cedar Rapids’ FM dial. K257GQ would have relayed KCOG/1400, which already has a separate FM translator.
iHeartMedia’s WOC/1420 (Davenport) requested special temporary authority to operate its directional antenna at variance and/or with reduced power. The station says several array parameters have suddenly gone out of tolerance and it is investigating to locate the fault. WOC is licensed to use 5kW day and night with different day and night directional patterns.
The FCC approved St. Gabriel Communications’ purchase of KLOX/90.9 (Creston) from Florida Public Radio.
The FCC granted extensions of the construction permits for new low-power TV stations K03IS-D (Sioux City), K24KD-D (Salix), and K27LD-D (Salix) until Jan. 10, 2022. (06/07/2021)
Early Look at Potential Bidders for New Radio Stations
The FCC has released an early look at who might be bidding for new radio stations in an auction this summer.
Two future FM stations in Iowa, two in Wisconsin, and one each in Minnesota, Nebraska, and North Dakota are among 140 stations nationwide that will be included in Auction 109, which is scheduled to begin July 27.
The FCC said in a June 3 public notice that 107 applications have been deemed to be complete (applicants can specify multiple allotments in their applications). They must make upfront payments by June 16 to participate in the auction.
Meanwhile, another 50 applications were deemed incomplete, but the applicants have until June 16 to correct the deficiencies. The FCC did not release which allotments the incomplete applications were seeking, so they may be added to the list for some of the regional allotments.
Two allotments in northern Wisconsin generated the most interest regionally, with seven potential bidders for 103.1 Crandon and eight for 100.9 Tomahawk.
New WRRD, LLC, the Salvation Poem Foundation, and Venite Adoremus selected both northern Wisconsin stations for bidding. New WRRD operates a Liberal Talk format in Madison, while the Salvation Poem Foundation operates a network of four Christian stations in western Wisconsin and Venite Adoremus runs a Catholic station in Marinette.
Results Broadcasting of Rhinelander also selected the Crandon station, while Christian broadcaster VCY America also selected Tomahawk.
VCY also selected stations in the Mason City and Waterloo markets for potential bidding.
Flood Communications West selected a station in Bayard, NE, near Scottsbluff. ColdTrainMedia, LLC and Estrella Broadcasting LLC selected every allotment in the Upper Midwest that’s up for auction.
Lists of applicants who selected each allotment for potential bidding In Iowa:
Dunkerton, IA (Waterloo market): 103.9 class A (6kW/100m)
Estrella Broadcasting LLC
Trinity Communications, Inc.
VCY America, Inc.
Rockford, IA (Mason City market): 92.9 class A
Estrella Broadcasting LLC
Trinity Communications, Inc.
VCY America, Inc.
Longtime Iowa, Minnesota Station Owner Paul Hedberg Passes
Former Iowa and Minnesota radio station owner, past Minnesota Broadcasters Association president, and Pavek Museum of Broadcasting co-founder Paul Hedberg has died at the age of 81.
Hedberg got his start in radio in 1956 when, at the age of 17, he helped his father, Clifford Hedberg, sign on KMRS (Morris). He worked at several Twin Cities radio stations before building KBEW (Blue Earth) in 1963.
Hedberg Broadcasting eventually owned 21 radio stations in nine Minnesota and northern Iowa communities, including Mankato, Luverne, Mason City, Algona, Spirit Lake, Storm Lake, and Sioux Center. In the 1970s, he also founded a service that used FM subcarriers to distribute farm market data and Blue Earth’s cable TV system.
His obituary states that Hedberg put a premium on live and local content with the philosophy that what mattered most wasn’t the programming format but what was broadcast around the music. Hedberg wrote about his experiences building the stations in his 2014 memoir, The Time of My Life.
“In 40 years I’d gone through FCC rules that prohibited dual ownership of stations in the same community to a time when you could own virtually every station licensed to a community. These FCC rule changes continue to have a huge impact on the broadcasting industry,” he wrote in explaining his addition of second FM signals in the Sioux Center and Spirit Lake markets. Facing competition from an influx of new stations and technologies, Hedberg sold most of his remaining stations to Waitt Radio in 1999.
“It was a long day for me, and I still get some tears in my eyes when I think about it,” Hedberg wrote of the sale.
In addition to serving as president of the Minnesota Broadcasters Association, Hedberg also served three terms on the National Association of Broadcasters board of directors. He was named broadcaster of the year by the Iowa Broadcasters Association in 1998 and inducted into the Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2001. (06/06/2021)
Iowa Morning Radio Host Passes Away
Northern Iowa radio host Bob Svec has died unexpectedly at the age of 53.
Svec had hosted mornings on “95.1 The Bull” (KCZE New Hampton), which reports that he died May 31 of natural causes.
Svec had a long career in law enforcement before starting at KCZE. He is survived by a wife and a son.
Funeral services will be held Saturday, June 5, in New Hampton. (06/07/2021)
Des Moines Gets Third Contemporary Hits Station
Cumulus Media has launched a new Contemporary Hits format in Des Moines to begin the Memorial Day weekend, competing with iHeartMedia and Saga Broadcasting’s existing CHR formats in the city.
“98.3 The Vibe” (KWQW Boone-Des Moines) is now “your music, your vibe,” dropping a Classic Hip-Hop format that had run since 2015 under the same slogan. The new format debuted Friday, May 28.
The 41kW/165m signal of “The Vibe” competes with iHeart’s 100kW “107.5 Kiss FM” (KKDM Des Moines) and Saga Broadcasting’s 250-Watt “Hits 99.9” (K260AM and KIOA-HD2 Des Moines).
KKDM ranked second in the market among publicly-listed stations in Nielsen Audio’s most recent 12+ average quarter hour shares. Ratings for the Saga stations are not publicly released. Under its previous format, KWQW had been the lowest-rated core commercial FM station in the market among the publicly-available ratings.
The launch of a third CHR outlet in Des Moines is quite a shift from a quarter century ago, when there was no Top 40 station in the city. (05/29/2021)
Sports Director Takes Over Cedar Rapids Station’s Operations
The sports director of a Cedar Rapids radio station has taken over operations of the station, with an option to buy, as longtime Iowa broadcaster Rick Sellers nears retirement.
Jim Ecker’s Metro Sports Report, Inc. began operating KMRY/1450 and K226DO/93.1 under a local marketing agreement in February, according to documents posted on KMRY’s website. The documents show Ecker’s company also has an option to purchase the stations from Sellers Broadcasting for $700,000.
Ecker tells The Gazette that KMRY will continue to run its ’70s and ’80s Classic Hits format during the day, but will add more sports programming in the evening.
Sellers has owned KMRY since 1998. The station has evolved from Nostalgia to its present format over the years.
KMRY operates as a standalone station in competition with the locally-owned KZIA group, iHeartMedia, Townsquare Media, and NRG Media. (05/28/2021)
FCC Monitor: UHF Moves Progress
The FCC issued a report and order approving a plan by Gray TV ABC affiliate KCRG-TV/9 (Cedar Rapids) to move to RF channel 32 with 1,000kW. The station will still have to go through the formality of applying for and receiving a construction permit before it makes the change.
The FCC approved extensions to Edge Spectrum’s construction permits for new low-power TV stations K22LJ-D (Mason City), K27MI-D (Mason City), K35PA-D (Mason City), K31PP-D (Sioux City), K31LN-D (Rochester), K19IT-D (St. Charles), K27KL-D (St. Charles), K29JH-D (St. Charles), K31KX-D (St. Charles). The new deadlines are Jan. 10, 2022.
Meanwhile, Spectrum Evolution withdrew its request for an extension for K41MP-D (Rochester), which would have to seek a move to a new channel due to the discontinuation of channels 38 and up but says no in-core channel has been found. (05/25/2021)
FCC Monitor: More Low-Power TV Sales, Extensions
Wennes Communications Stations’ KDHK/100.5 (Decorah) completed its move to a new facility southwest of its old site, slightly expanding its coverage area to the southwest with 42.2kW/162m (class C2). KDHK also added an HD2 simulcast of KDEC/1240 and an HD3 simulcast of KVIK/104.7. 05/19/2021
Iowa Station Makes Anticipated Flip to “K-Love”
KDCR/88.5 (Sioux Center) has made its anticipated change to the Contemporary Christian “K-Love” network ahead of the formal sale of the station to the network’s owner.
As announced in March, Dordt University is selling KDCR to the Educational Media Foundation for $200,000. The 100kW station had run a locally-programmed Christian format since signing on in 1968 but the university cited “a shift in audience interest” and financial concerns in announcing its decision.
The station has changed its callsign to KLDX with the switch to “K-Love.” Its legal ID promotes the network’s frequencies in Sioux Falls, SD, (KSFS/90.1) and Sioux City (KILV/107.5), similar to ID’s on some other “K-Love” stations.
88.5 delivers a strong signal to the area of northwestern Iowa between Sioux City, Sioux Falls, and Worthington, MN. Communities in its main coverage area include Le Mars, Orange City, Rock Rapids, and Sibley.
Part of KLDX’s coverage area overlaps with KZTP/104.3 (Sibley-Worthington), which recently debuted a commercial Christian music format. (05/16/2021)
FCC Monitor: Iowa TV Station Upgrades
Hearst CBS affiliate KCCI/8 (Des Moines) completed an upgrade from 28.3kW to 44.6kW, remaining on RF channel 8.
The FCC has approved the sale of KWKB/20.1 (Iowa City) and a station in Utah from HC2 Broadcasting to Faith Broadcasting Network, which operates the TCT Christian TV network.
K230CB/93.9 (Marshalltown) applied for a license to cover after a few months of testing. K230CB was granted during the FCC’s AM Revitalization effort to relay KFJB/1230.
Flood Communications’ KOHA-LD/27 (Omaha) was granted special temporary authority to continue broadcasting at 4kW while it works to complete a 15kW facility. (05/10/2021)
Townsquare Exits Crowded Cedar Rapids Top 40 Field
Townsquare Media has ended a ten-year-old Contemporary Hits format in the Cedar Rapids market after its agreement to run the station that had carried the format apparently expired.
The former “i107-1” (KRQN Vinton) is now carrying programming from the USA Radio Network. The station’s former website is redirecting to a goodbye message on the website of Adult Contemporary outlet KDAT/104.5 (Cedar Rapids) that encourages listeners to check out KDAT or two other Townsquare stations but does not mention KRQN’s new format.
KRQN is owned by George Flinn and had been operated by Townsquare and its Cedar Rapids predecessor, Cumulus Media, since 2006. The latest time brokerage agreement was due to expire May 1, according to documents in the station’s public file. Townsquare’s website no longer lists KRQN among its stations.
“i-107-1” was one of three Contemporary Hits stations in the Cedar Rapids market, competing with locally-owned “Z102.9” (KZIA Cedar Rapids) and iHeartMedia’s “Hot 95.7” (KOSY Anamosa-Cedar Rapids). Townsquare’s “B100” (KBEA/99.7 Muscatine-Quad Cities) also rimshots Cedar Rapids.
Neither KRQN nor KZIA is included in publicly-released Nielsen Audio ratings. KOZY and KBEA both had a 0.6 average quarter hour 12+ share in Nielsen’s Fall 2020 ratings for Cedar Rapids. KRQN signed on in 2005 and rimshots Cedar Rapids with a 4.7kW/113m (class A) signal. (05/08/2021)
Sinclair CW Stations to Add Evening National News
CW affiliates in Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Omaha are due to begin carrying a late-evening national news block this fall.
Sinclair Broadcast Group announced Tuesday that it’s expanding “The National Desk” to an evening broadcast starting Sept. 28. A news release says it will air from 9 to 11 p.m. Central time on all Sinclair-owned CW stations, which include WUCW/23 (Minneapolis), WVTV/18 (Milwaukee), WCWF/14 (Suring-Green Bay), and KXVO/15 (Omaha).
“The National Desk” launched as a morning program in January on Sinclair FOX, CW, and My Network TV stations across the country. Currently, it airs from 5 to 8 a.m. in Milwaukee (CW), Green Bay (CW), Sioux City (FOX), and Lincoln-Kearney (FOX), and from 6 to 8 a.m. in Minneapolis (CW) and Omaha (FOX).
The program serves as a national platform for content generated by Sinclair’s local TV newsrooms, including those in Green Bay, Cedar Rapids, Sioux City, Omaha, and Kearney. Its stations in Minneapolis and Milwaukee don’t have local news.
“The National Desk” is also available on Sinclair’s STIRR over-the-top app and will launch its own standalone website and app later this summer. (05/05/2021)
Des Moines-Based Meredith Sells TV Group to Gray
Gray TV’s latest acquisition does not include any Upper Midwest TV stations but does have a regional connection: the seller is Des Moines-based Meredith Corporation.
The companies announced Monday, May 3, that Gray will buy Meredith’s 17 TV stations in 12 markets in a stock transaction valued at $2.7 billion. Meredith will focus on its magazine business.
Though based in Iowa, Meredith does not own any stations in the state. Its closest stations are in Kansas City (KCTV-CBS and KSMO-MNT) and St. Louis (KMOV-CBS).
Meredith had expressed interest in buying a Des Moines TV spinoff from the would-be Sinclair-Tribune merger in 2018, but a different divestiture partner emerged before the entire Sinclair-Tribune deal eventually fell apart.
The only overlap between Gray and Meredith’s groups is in the Flint-Saginaw market, where Gray will divest its own station, Flint ABC affiliate WJRT, and keep Saginaw-based CBS affiliate WNEM.
The deal will give Gray its first stations in its home market of Atlanta, CBS affiliate WGCL and Independent WPCH.
Gray is also in the process of buying stations in eight markets from Quincy Media. It will be the second-largest TV group owner, behind Nexstar, after all pending transactions are completed. (05/04/2021)
FCC Monitor: The FCC has told Edge Spectrum that it is ineligible to seek six-month extensions to move its licensed digital low-power TV stations to new channels
The FCC has told Edge Spectrum that it is ineligible to seek six-month extensions to move its licensed digital low-power TV stations to new channels. The licensee had been seeking extensions until January 2022 to resume broadcasting for LPTV stations that are still licensed on channels above 36, which have been discontinued. The FCC said the six-month extensions in question are only allowed for construction permits for new digital LPTV stations or analog LPTV stations transitioning to digital. It suggested that Edge may be able to submit requests for tolling instead. The affected stations are K20KF-D (Davenport, IA).
The FCC granted an extension for new low-power TV station K17MH-D (Cedar Falls) to sign on. The new deadline is in January 2022.
KOHA-LD (Omaha) requested special temporary authority to continue broadcasting on channel 27 with 4kW. The station has a construction permit to use 15kW on the channel but says it is not yet ready to turn on the 15kW facility. A previous STA to use 4kW expired in January, and the station apologized to the FCC for not seeking an extension before the STA expired. (05/03/2021)
Allen Media Picks Up Spinoffs from Gray/Quincy Deal
Allen Media will be the buyer of stations in seven markets, including four in Wisconsin and Iowa, that Gray TV is spinning off as part of its purchase of Quincy Media.
The stations are in markets where Gray already owns major network affiliates. The $380 million deal includes in Iowa:
-KWWL (NBC) Waterloo-Cedar Rapids
Gray is buying Quincy Media’s other stations in a $925 million deal first announced in February, including stations in Duluth, Rochester, and Sioux City. It is also buying current WAOW satellite WYOW (Eagle River) with plans to convert it to a satellite of Gray’s WSAW (Wausau).
Notably, Gray’s original news release about the Quincy purchase did not list WREX as a station it planned to divest. Gray also owns CBS affiliate WIFR-LD (Rockford), which is not subject to ownership rules because it is a low-power station.
Allen Media, headed by Byron Allen, has stations in 12 markets, including Mason City-Rochester.
“We plan to invest approximately ten billion dollars to acquire more ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX television stations over the next two years with the goal of being the largest broadcast television group in America,” Allen said in a news release. (04/29/2021)
Tribal Radio Station Drops Proposal to Enter Sioux City Market
An FM station owned by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska has dropped a proposal to enter the Sioux City, Iowa, market.
KWTN/100.9 (Allen), which is currently off the air and licensed for just 100 Watts, had applied to change frequency to 97.1 and move to a tower closer to Sioux City, using 9.6kW/123m (class C3). However, the station has now amended its application to specify that it would remain at its current site and increase to 6kW/66m (class A).
The station’s filing says the change was “due to problems discovered with the currently pending application” but did not specify those problems. In late March, in its latest request for special temporary authority to remain silent, the station said it intended to resume broadcasting at the new location once the move was granted.
The Winnebago Tribe received KWTN as a donation from Cochise Broadcasting several years ago as part of a consent decree.
As previously reported, the FCC responded to KWTN’s initial application with a letter noting that such a move would be considered a major change requiring notice and comment procedures, unless a waiver is granted. KWTN responded with a waiver request, saying the consent decree allowed for a waiver “if the proposed operation will provide service at a location that will satisfy the Tribal Priority requirements.”
Though KWTN is licensed as a commercial station, minutes from a December tribal council meeting indicate that the tribe plans to operate it non-commercially with no personnel and a startup budget of $12,000. The tribal newspaper reported last September that KWTN will have a studio in the tribe’s Physical Resources Building. (04/28/2021)
Central Iowa Catholic Radio Network Adds Third FM Station
Iowa Catholic Radio, which currently has two FM signals and one AM station in the Des Moines area, is adding a third FM station.
An asset purchase agreement filed with the FCC indicates St. Gabriel Communications is buying KLOX/90.9 (Creston) from Florida Public Radio for $50,000. KLOX is currently licensed for 500 Watts but has a construction permit to upgrade to 100kW, serving a large area southwest of Des Moines.
St. Gabriel is the licensee of KIHS/88.5 (Adel) and K233BT/94.5 (Des Moines) and is the parent company of Trinity Communications and Putbrese Communications, which own KWKY/1150 (Des Moines). (A separate pending application will merge Trinity and Putbrese, making Trinity the licensee of KWKY under St. Gabriel’s continued ownership.)
Florida Public Radio, a Christian broadcaster, also owns KSKB/99.1 (Brooklyn, IA) as well as five stations in Florida and three in Kansas. (4/25/2021)
FCC Monitor: Iowa LPFM Appeals Fine
Clinton Education Association, licensee of KXJX-LP/92.5 (Clinton), requested cancellation of a proposed $1,500 fine for a late license renewal application. In its pleading, the licensee alleges that it is being treated unfairly because 18 other low-power FM stations in Iowa and Missouri filed their applications after the Oct. 1 deadline but were not fined. KXJX-LP’s license renewal application has already been granted. (4/13/2021)
Scripps to Add Broadcast Coverage for Newsy
Scripps Broadcasting has announced plans to add over-the-air coverage for Newsy, with affiliates expected in several Upper Midwest markets.
Newsy got its start as an online streaming service more than a decade ago and will launch Oct. 1 on subchannels of Scripps-owned stations, including ION stations that Scripps brought earlier this year, as well as some stations owned by other groups. Regionally, Scripps owns stations in the Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Wausau, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, and Omaha markets.
“Amid an increasingly polarized and divided national climate, Newsy will seize upon this opportunity to serve more Americans seeking quality objective journalism,” Scripps Networks President Lisa Knutson said in a news release.
“As TV viewers ‘self-bundle’ by combining free television with subscription video-on-demand services, Newsy will build on its successes in OTT by joining the other Scripps Networks in the over the air marketplace to bring these viewers high-quality, free news programming,” Knutson said.
Newsy will join NBC LX and NewsNet in the genre of 24-hour news networks on broadcast TV. With planned carriage in markets representing 80% of TV households at launch, Newsy may have much wider distribution than its competitors.
As a broadcast network, Newsy will be based in Atlanta and will use content from bureaus in Washington and Chicago as well as from Scripps’ local TV newsrooms. It will continue to be available on streaming platforms as well.
Scripps is one of several national TV group owners seeking to repurpose its local news content on a national platform. The field also includes Nexstar’s NewsNation, Sinclair’s The National Desk, and Gray TV’s Local News Live.
Scripps is also preparing two other networks, TrueReal and Defy, for launches this summer (TrueReal had been called Doozy in an earlier news release). It already runs ION, Court TV, Court TV Mystery, Bounce, Grit, and Laff. (3/5/21)
Tegna’s “Twist” Network Launches in Iowa, Nebraska
The latest new digital multicast network, Twist, launched April 5 with several affiliates in Iowa, Nebraska.
The new network carries lifestyle and reality shows that end in a “twist.” According to the network’s website, launch affiliates include:
Des Moines: 5.5 WOI (Tegna)
Omaha: 25.7 KQMK-LD (HC2)
Quad Cities: 8.5 WQAD (Tegna)
Waterloo: 35.5 KFKZ-LD (HC2)
Tegna also runs True Crime Network and Quest. (4/5/21)
“Joy” Joins “Hope” in Des Moines
Saga Broadcasting has launched a second commercial Christian format in Des Moines, switching an FM translator signal from Sports to Contemporary Christian.
99-Watt K271CO/102.1 (Des Moines) and originating station KAZR-HD3 (Pella-Des Moines) are now “Joy 102.1.” The change was first noted by RadioInsight, which points out that “Joy” competes with three non-commercial Contemporary Christian formats in the capital city.
Saga Broadcasting has launched a second commercial Christian format in Des Moines, switching an FM translator signal from Sports to Contemporary Christian.
99-Watt K271CO/102.1 (Des Moines) and originating station KAZR-HD3 (Pella-Des Moines) are now “Joy 102.1.” The change was first noted by RadioInsight, which points out that “Joy” competes with three non-commercial Contemporary Christian formats in the capital city.
K271CO had previously relayed ESPN Radio from KRNT/1350 (Des Moines).
The change comes just over a year after iHeartMedia added an FM signal for its Sports format on what is now KXNO-FM/106.3 (Ankeny-Des Moines). KXNO ranked sixth in Nielsen Audio’s 12+ ratings for January, while ratings for Saga’s stations are not released.
Saga also operates “Hope 940” (KPSZ Des Moines), which carries brokered Christian programming during the day and Singing News Radio at night. (4/5/2021)
Supreme Court Ruling Loosens TV Ownership Rules
Thursday’s unanimous ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the FCC’s 2017 changes to ownership rules could allow more consolidation within local TV markets.
The portion of the rule change that allows cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast outlets received a lot of press, but the provision that’s more likely to impact local TV markets is the elimination of the “eight voices” rule and a return of a process to allow common ownership of two top-four TV stations.
The “eight voices” requirement prohibits transactions if they would leave a TV market with fewer than eight owners of full-power TV stations, including non-commercial stations. However, failing station waivers had already provided a workaround to the rule.
The “top four” rule says that a company that owns one top-four station cannot buy a second top-four station in the market. Companies have been able to work around that rule by moving affiliations to subchannels or low-power stations, which are not covered by ownership rules.
The FCC’s 2017 rules change laid out a process for groups to seek an exception to the top-four rule. As regular readers may recall, Gray TV’s Sioux Falls operation was the only one to ever get approval to merge two top-four stations before an appeals court threw out the FCC’s rule change in 2019.
(Jessica Rosenworcel, who is now the FCC’s Acting Chairwoman, had spoken out against the decision to allow the Sioux Falls combination.)
Fletcher Heald & Hildreth’s CommLawBlog explains that the Supreme Court ruling does not immediately restore the 2017 rule changes, but that they may take effect soon.
One pending deal that could benefit from the court ruling is Gray TV’s proposed acquisition of some Quincy Media stations, since Gray had been seeking failing station waivers to buy CW affiliate KDLH/3.1 (Duluth) as well as stations in the Fort Wayne and South Bend markets. The waivers may no longer be necessary once the “eight voices” rule is eliminated. (4/2/2021)
RELATED: TV Ownership Rules Explained
FCC Monitor: Rochester AM seeks temporary authority
Townsquare Media’s KOLM/1520 (Rochester) continues to operate with its 800-Watt nighttime directional pattern 24 hours per day, rather than switching to its licensed daytime facility of 10kW non-directional. The station says in a request for extension of special temporary authority that after it fixed the initial problem with a control cable, it encountered more issues. The filing says winter weather has prevented the engineer from locating the source of issues with underground cabling to the tower bases. 03/29/2021
New FM’s: Marshalltown
Several more new FM signals have recently signed on as the deadlines approach to construct FM translators granted in 2018 as part of the AM revitalization effort.
in Iowa, Trending Media’s KFJB/1230 (Marshalltown) is in the process of signing on 250-Watt K230CB/93.9 (Marshalltown). The station, which carries a Full Service News/Talk format, says it is still tweaking the FM signal and hopes to have it fully operational within a month. (3/24/2021)
Longtime NW Iowa Christian FM to Switch to “K-Love”
Dordt University has announced plans to sell its KDCR/88.5 (Sioux Center) to the Educational Media Foundation, which will switch the station to the “K-Love” Contemporary Christian network.
KDCR has been on the air since 1968 and its 100kW signal covers the northwestern corner of Iowa. However, the university says the station faces “ongoing costs and limited listener financial support” and says it has seen “a shift in audience interest.”
“Over the last 12 months, Dordt has conducted a thorough review of KDCR, which has resulted in the selling of assets such as the frequency of 88.5 FM,” the college writes in a news release.
A sale price was not announced and the deal had not yet appeared in the FCC database as of Monday evening.
KDCR will continue its current programming until the end of the semester and then switch to “K-Love” on May 15. The college will continue to offer web streams of sports and other campus events through the Dordt Media Network. (3/22/2021)
FCC Monitor: Deluge of LPTV Extension Requests Continues
Edge Spectrum submitted dozens of filings saying that it intends to construct its unbuilt low-power TV stations in ATSC 3.0 using distributed transmission systems (DTS), which means the stations will use multiple transmitter sites. However, the company says it cannot seek construction permits for DTS facilities until DTS rules for LPTV stations are published in the Federal Register. It’s seeking six-month extensions for the current ATSC 1.0 facilities until January 2022 with intentions of seeking modifications to ATSC 3.0 once the new rules are released.
The FCC set an April 12 deadline for petitions to deny Gray TV’s proposed purchase of 14 full-power stations in 11 markets from Quincy Media, including stations in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
Edge Spectrum requested six-month extensions to the construction permits for K20KF-D Davenport, K22LJ-D Mason City, K27MI-D Mason City, K35PA-D Mason City, and K31PP-D Sioux City. See above for more information. DTV America applied for a six-month extension of the construction permit for K17MH-D Cedar Falls. The licensee says it has contracted to use a tower near Allison, northwest of Cedar Falls, and is committed to finishing construction by Dec. 13.
Hispanic Family Christian Network applied for an extension of the construction permit for DK03IS-D Sioux City until Jan. 13, 2022. (3/21/21)
Christian Network Buys Iowa City TV Station
Faith Broadcasting Network, which is associated with Tri-State Christian Television, is buying a full-power TV station in the Cedar Rapids market that also has coverage of the Quad Cities.
An asset purchase agreement filed with the FCC says Faith Broadcasting is buying KWKB/20.1 (Iowa City) and a full-power station in Utah from HC2 Broadcasting for $4 million.
Faith Broadcasting Network has the same officers and shareholders as Radiant Life Ministries and Tri-State Christian TV. The companies own or are buying 21 full-power stations, including stations in the Des Moines, Sioux Falls, and Duluth markets.
KWKB is a former WB and CW affiliate that currently carries Court TV Mystery as its primary affiliation, along with five other subchannels. However, several of the channels it carries were recently added on KPXR (Cedar Rapids) after Scripps’ purchase of ION and the move of Scripps-owned networks to ION subchannels.
With a transmitter in West Branch, KWKB provides coverage of Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and the Quad Cities, but just misses Waterloo and Dubuque. The other commercial stations in the Cedar Rapids market transmit from sites midway between Cedar Rapids and Waterloo.
TCT will be the second Christian network with a full-power TV station in the Cedar Rapids market: Christian Television Network has owned KFXB/40.1 (Dubuque) since 2004. (3/19/21)
FCC Monitor: Late License Applications
The FCC continues to propose fines over late license renewal applications but cancelled one in Iowa after just a few days. On March 9, it issued notice of apparent liability proposing a $3,000 fine against licensee Fairfield Educational Radio Station, saying the license renewal application for KHOE/90.5 (Fairfield) was due Oct. 1 but not filed until Nov. 2. However, three days later the FCC issued an order noting that Media Bureau staff had told the licensee that they could file an application until Nov. 2 with no adverse action taken, so the fine was cancelled. (3/14/2021)
Scripps to Launch Another Two Subchannel Networks
After taking over the ION network and its group of stations, Scripps Broadcasting has announced plans to launch another two subchannel networks repurposing shows that first ran on cable channels
. Doozy and Defy TV will launch on July 1 and will bring Scripps to a total of nine networks. They’ll reach 75% of the nation’s households at launch.
Regionally, Scripps owns stations in the Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Wausau, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, and Omaha markets. Exact channel placement has not yet been announced.
Both networks will target viewers 25-54, with Doozy focusing on women and Defy focusing on men.
Doozy’s lineup will include “Storage Wars,” “Married at First Sight,” “Hoarders,” and “Little Women: LA.” Defy will carry “Pawn Stars,” “Forged in Fire,” “American Pickers,” and “The Curse of Oak Island,” among others.
“By creating compelling new network programming to distribute through ION’s spectrum, Scripps is expanding the ways it creates value from our ownership of ION and its powerful distribution platform,” Scripps Networks President Lisa Knutson said in a news release.
Many of the ION stations Scripps recently purchased have been rearranging their subchannels to add Scripps’ Court TV, Court TV Mystery, Grit, Laff, and Bounce. The company also owns Newsy, which does not have broadcast affiliates. (3/3/2021)
Extension of Construction Permits
Landover 2 LLC requested an extension of the construction permits for K24KD-D (Salix) and K27LD-D (Salix). Landover 2 cites a provision in an FCC public notice that allows low-power TV permittees to seek a one-time extension due to an unforeseeable circumstance such as the COVID-19 pandemic. It proposes extensions to Jan. 13, 2022.
Scripps Broadcasting submitted a notification that it has moved the master control point for KMTV/3.1 (Omaha) to WTKR in Norfolk, Virginia. KMTV’s studio remains in Omaha. (2/28/2021)
Subchannel Shuffle Begins following ION Sale
Several subchannel networks are now receiving full-power carriage in Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and several other Upper Midwest markets following Scripps’ purchase of the ION network and its stations.
As Scripps had announced earlier this year, national networks owned by the company are being moved to the ION stations. The company is discontinuing ION’s former qubo, ION Plus, and ShopTV subchannel networks effective Feb. 28.
Scripps owns Court TV, Court TV Mystery, Grit, Bounce, and Laff. The networks are being moved as contracts with existing affiliates expire, upgrading from low-power stations in many cases.
Channel placement varies by market. According to listings at RabbitEars and TVTV and reports from viewers and a translator operator, the following changes have been made or are coming soon:
KPXM St. Cloud-Minneapolis: Bounce 41.2, Grit 41.3, Mystery 41.4 WPXE Kenosha-Milwaukee: Bounce 55.2, Court TV 55.3, Grit 55.4 (Court and Grit are also carried on Scripps’ WTMJ-TV) WTPX Antigo-Wausau: Grit 46.2, Mystery 46.3, Laff 46.4, Bounce 46.5 KPXR Cedar Rapids: Grit 48.2, Bounce 48.3, Laff 48.4 (HC2’s KWKB Iowa City continues to carry the networks as well as of Feb. 28.) KFPX Newton-Des Moines: Court TV 39.2, Laff 39.3, Mystery 39.4 The main ION network continues on the stations’ DT1 channels.
KPXM is relayed on several TV translator systems outside of the Twin Cities metro area. The Selective TV system in Alexandria said it is considering new programming for LPTV channels that had already carried Bounce and Grit. (2/28/2021)
Tegna to Launch New Lifestyle/Reality Channel
TV station owner Tegna, which has several stations in the Upper Midwest, has announced plans to launch a third subchannel network this spring.
“Twist” will carry lifestyle and reality programming targeting women. The channel is named for the reveals, or “twists,” at the end of most of the shows it will air.
Initial programming includes Clean House, Top Chef Masters, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Dance Moms, Tabatha Takes Over, Tiny House Nation, and Flipping Out.
The network will launch sometime this spring.
Tegna said Twist will be carried in all of its markets, which include Minneapolis (KARE), Des Moines (WOI-DT/KCWI), and the Quad Cities (WQAD). Exact channel placement has not been announced. Twist will also be carried on some stations owned by HC2 Broadcasting that have yet to be listed.
Tegna also runs True Crime Network and Quest. (2/24/2021)
FCC Monitor: Minn. FM at Reduced Power
Community Public Media’s KPVL/89.1 (Postville) was granted another extension of special temporary authority to operate at an unknown reduced power. The station’s latest filing repeats the narrative presented in an extension request last August. The latest extension is through Aug. 18.
Townsquare Media’s KROC-FM/106.9 (Rochester) is operating at about 10 percent of its usual 100kW following antenna damage. Its request for special temporary authority says the station has not yet been able to thoroughly inspect and troubleshoot the problem due to winter weather. KROC-FM transmits from the KTTC(TV) tower about 30 miles south of Rochester and is also heard on K293CV/106.5 (Rochester). (2/21/2021)
FCC Monitor: Iowa VHF to UHF Moves Progress
The FCC moved forward with a proposal to move Gray TV ABC affiliate KCRG-TV/9 (Cedar Rapids) to a UHF frequency, issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking for the move to RF channel 32.
iHeartMedia’s WMT/600 (Cedar Rapids) continues to transmit with reduced nighttime power following the collapse of one of its towers during last August’s Iowa Derecho. The station says a recent rezoning of its tower site in Marion Township slowed the project, but a variance to reconstruct the fallen tower was recently approved. WMT continues to transmit with its usual 5kW non-directional daytime but is transmitting at about a quarter of its normal power, non-directional, at night.
PBS member station KSMQ-TV/15.1 (Austin) has returned to full power after a transmitter problem that had begun late last year. (2/14/2021)
FCC Filings Provide Details of Gray TV’s Plans for Quincy Media Stations
Documents filed with the FCC on Feb. 12 for Gray TV’s purchase of Quincy Media indicate Gray plans to keep the FOX affiliation in Rochester, consider expanding its news operation in Duluth, and switch a northern Wisconsin satellite station to a different network.
Gray announced plans to buy Quincy Media for $925 million on Feb. 1, a deal which will include divestitures of overlapping stations in six markets, including four in the Upper Midwest. Buyers for the stations to be divested have not been announced.
The applications to transfer Quincy Media’s licenses to Gray reveal several items not included in the initial announcement:
Quincy NBC/CW affiliate KTTC (Rochester) will continue to operate SagamoreHill FOX affiliate KXLT (Rochester) through a shared services agreement after the sale to Gray. Gray says it will seek opportunities to expand local news production in Duluth, where it is seeking a failing station waiver to buy CW affiliate KDLH alongside NBC/CBS affiliate KBJR-TV. A failing station waiver is required because there are fewer than eight ownership voices in the market. (Gray is also seeking failing station waivers in the Fort Wayne and South Bend markets.) Gray will divest ABC affiliate WAOW (Wausau) but plans to keep WAOW satellite WYOW (Eagle River), switching it over to Gray’s existing CBS/FOX affiliate WSAW (Wausau). It will still divest WAOW’s other satellite, WMOW (Crandon).
As previously reported, Gray will divest NBC/CW affiliate KWWL (Waterloo) and ABC affiliates WKOW (Madison), WXOW (La Crosse), and WQOW (Eau Claire), along with WAOW and stations in Tucson and Paducah, where Gray already owns stations. (La Crosse and Eau Claire are considered one market for regulatory purposes, but WXOW and WQOW operate with separate identities and newsrooms.)
Besides the stations already mentioned above, regional stations Gray is buying also include NBC/CW affiliate KTIV (Sioux City), NBC/FOX/CW affiliate WGEM-TV (Quincy), NBC/CW affiliate WREX (Rockford), and KBJR satellite KRII (Chisholm). The other stations are in the Peoria, Fort Wayne, South Bend, Binghamton, and Bluefield markets.
Once the deal closes, Gray will own stations in every Upper Midwest market except Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Des Moines.
As part of its filing, Gray details its history of building award-winning news operations across the country. The company operates its own Washington news bureau, has a national investigative unit, and produces a national news program hosted by Greta Van Susteren. (2/12/2021)
Numerous FM Allotments Up for Auction This Summer
If you’ve ever wanted your own radio station, you have another chance to get one – as long as it’s in one of the small or unrated markets up for auction.
The FCC has set July 27 as the tentative start date for FCC Auction 109, which will include 136 FM allotments nationwide and four AM frequencies in the St. Louis area. Most of the FM allotments are in unrated and small markets and were to have been included in an auction last year that was canceled due to the pandemic.
Iowa stations include:
Dunkerton, IA: 103.9, class A (6kW/100m), $60,000 opening bid. Potential Waterloo coverage.
Rockford, IA: 92.9, class A (6kW/100m), $25,000 opening bid. Potential Mason City coverage.
The FCC is accepting comments on the proposed bidding procedures through March 15.
The commission has also frozen applications from existing stations that would require changes to the allotments that are scheduled for auction. (2/9/2021)
FCC Monitor: Partial Tower Collapse, Two Iowa LPFM’s Deleted
Saga Communications’ KOEZ/104.1 (Ames-Des Moines) is transmitting at reduced power after a partial tower collapse. The top 100 feet of its tower fell during a winter storm on Jan. 31 but a station filing says the rest of the tower appears to be structurally sound. KOEZ is using 58kW/166m from a four-bay antenna that was already side-mounted on the tower; it’s licensed for 100kW/308m (class C0). FCC records indicate the tower in Boone County, which was previously 1,025 feet tall, was constructed in 1985. Radio World has more on the collapse.
The FCC deleted the licenses of low-power FM stations KBOL-LP/100.1 (Waterloo) and KRUU-LP/100.1 (Fairfield) after the stations did not apply for license renewal. KRUU’s website says it ended regular programming three years ago and that its licensee, Fairfield Youth Advocacy, was interested in transferring the station to a different group, but no application to transfer the license was filed. KBOL-LP had been owned by The Community Outreach, Inc. Here’s KBOL in 2012:
Jomast Corp. signed on 250-Watt K280GT/103.9 (Sigourney), relaying the Classic Hits format of KMZN/740 (Oskaloosa). K280GT was granted as part of the AM revitalization effort. KMZN is also relayed on K258BG/99.5 (Oskaloosa), which existed prior to the AM revitalization windows. (2/7/2021)
Gray TV to Buy Quincy Media, With Several Divestitures
Weeks after Quincy Media confirmed that it had put itself up for sale, Gray TV has announced that it is the buyer.
Gray is buying Quincy for $925 million but will have to divest many of its stations due to overlap with existing Gray stations, splitting up Quincy’s current group. Wells Fargo Securities is looking for buyers for the stations to be divested.
In the Upper Midwest, Gray will keep:
Duluth: KBJR (NBC/CBS) and KDLH (CW); the company will have to obtain a failing station waiver to retain KDLH under current FCC rules. Many people still mistakenly refer to KDLH as the market’s CBS affiliate even though the network was moved to KBJR-DT2 five years ago.
Quincy: WGEM (NBC/FOX/CW), with its market including southeastern Iowa.
Rochester: KTTC (NBC/CW); the news release does not mention KXLT (FOX), which KTTC runs under a shared services agreement.
Sioux City: KTIV (NBC/CW)
but Gray will divest:
Cedar Rapids-Waterloo: KWWL (NBC/CW), where Gray already owns KCRG (ABC)
La Crosse-Eau Claire: WXOW/WQOW (ABC/CW), where Gray already owns WEAU (NBC)
Madison: WKOW (ABC), where Gray already owns WMTV (NBC/CW)
Wausau: WAOW (ABC/CW), where Gray already owns WSAW (CBS/FOX)
The deal also includes several stations in Illinois and other states, creating a new duopoly in the Rockford market that will combine low-power CBS affiliate WIFR-LD with NBC affiliate WREX. See the news release for the complete list.
The deal also includes WGEM/1440 and WGEM-FM/105.1 (Quincy), but Quincy Media’s print assets will be sold before the sale to Gray closes. Gray’s only other radio holding is a station in Texas that it acquired as part of its purchase of Raycom.
Gray will own TV stations in 102 markets once the deal is complete.
Regionally, the deal will give Gray a presence in almost every Upper Midwest market. Besides the markets already listed above, Gray owns stations in Davenport, Ottumwa, Mankato, Green Bay, Marquette, Fargo, Bismarck, Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Omaha, Lincoln, and North Platte, with multiple big-four network affiliations in more than half of its regional markets. (2/1/2021)
Alpha Media under goes Reorganization
Alpha Media, which owns stations in 44 markets including many in the Upper Midwest, filed to transfer its licenses to itself as a debtor in possession. The company says the reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code will not result in any interruption to its operations.
Youngers Colorado Broadcasting’s K295CB/106.9 (Des Moines) was granted a frequency change to 94.1 under the new callsign K231DI. It will remain 132 Watts.
KROS Broadcasting says it’s continuing to work on plans for a new tower for KROS/1340 and K290CL/105.9 (Clinton) after the August Iowa Derecho downed their previous structure. It requested extensions of special temporary authority to operate KROS with 300 Watts from a wire antenna and K290CL with 250 Watts from a shorter tower.
DTV America’s KAJS-LD/32 (Lincoln-Omaha) returned to the air Jan. 20. It has withdrawn a request for special temporary authority to remain silent that had been filed earlier this month. (1/31/2021)
FCC Monitor: Objection to Iowa Renewal
Dave Vickers, the general manager and minority owner of KROS/1340 (Clinton), has submitted informal objections to license renewal for Gendreau Broadcast’s KCLN/1390 (Clinton) and KMCN/94.7 (Clinton). Vickers alleges that his competitors’ online public files are incomplete and that KCLN is not reducing power at night.
The FCC cancelled the construction permit for K241CX/96.1 (Independence), which was not built by its Jan. 16 deadline. The translator had been granted during the AM revitalization effort to relay KQMG/1220.
The FCC granted KLOX/90.9 (Creston) a construction permit to replace its expired permit to upgrade from 500 Watts to 100kW. (1/24/2021)
Sinclair to Move CBS to Sioux City Subchannel
Sinclair Broadcast Group’s operation in Sioux City has announced plans to move the CBS affiliation in the market to a subchannel of its FOX affiliate.
On Feb. 4, CBS will move from KMEG/14.1 to channel 44.3 of KPTH, which will continue to carry FOX on 44.1. The CBS channel will continue to brand as “CBS14” despite no longer being seen on broadcast channel 14. The stations’ announcement suggests the CBS channel placement will remain unchanged on cable and satellite systems.
Sinclair owns KPTH and operates KMEG through an agreement with Waitt Broadcasting. KMEG has been a CBS affiliate since it signed on in 1967 and has been operated by KPTH since 2005.
The change will come a month after Sinclair made a similar move in Cedar Rapids, moving the market’s FOX affiliation from its longtime home to a subchannel of the CBS affiliate that Sinclair owns.
The Sioux City change will also result in a subchannel shuffle. 44.2 will continue to carry the MyNetworkTV prime time block, but the rest of its schedule will switch from DABL to TBD. DABL will move full-time to 14.1. Charge! will move from 44.3 to 14.2, replacing TBD, and Stadium will move from 44.4 to 14.4. Comet will remain on 14.3. (1/23/2021)
New Owner to End Three ION Subchannels
The E.W. Scripps Company says it will discontinue three ION subchannels at the end of February following its purchase of the main ION network and its owned-and-operated affiliates.
ION Plus, Qubo, and Shop ION will end broadcasting by Feb. 28. Thursday’s announcement is not a surprise because Scripps had said when it purchased ION that it intended to move its Bounce, Court TV, Court TV Mystery, Grit, and Laff networks to the ION stations.
The networks will move to ION subchannels as contracts with existing affiliates expire.
The ION owned-and-operated stations include KPXM (St. Cloud-Minneapolis), WPXE (Kenosha-Milwaukee), WTPX (Antigo-Wausau), KPXR (Cedar Rapids), and KFPX (Newton-Des Moines).
The affected networks are currently carried on the DT2, DT3, and DT4 signals of ION’s O&O’s. The Scripps announcement did not mention the fate of QVC on DT5 and HSN on DT6, but TV listings indicate Laff has already replaced QVC in some markets.
ION Plus is mostly carried on the O&O’s but also has a few independently-owned affiliates, including Byrne Acquisition Group’s WIFS/57.1 (Janesville-Madison) and Magnum Communications’ KQEG-CD/23.3 (La Crescent-La Crosse). (1/14/2021)
FCC Monitor: ION Sale Closes; Iowa DOT Returns LPFM Licenses
Scripps Media closed on its purchase of the ION owned-and-operated stations on Jan. 7. Stations in the deal include KPXR/48.1 (Cedar Rapids), KFPX/39.1 (Newton-Des Moines), KPXM/41.1 (St. Cloud-Minneapolis), WPXE/55.1 (Kenosha-Milwaukee), and WTPX/46.1 (Antigo-Wausau). 23 stations, none in the Upper Midwest, were divested to Inyo Broadcast Holdings.
The Iowa Department of Transportation returned the licenses of its four low-power FM stations, which had carried automated traffic and road construction information along interstates in rural Iowa. The 100-Watt stations were: KDDI-LP/102.9 (Adair), KSDE-LP/104.9 (De Soto), KSOA-LP/94.5 (Sloane), and KUBH-LP/99.9 (Urbana). Iowa DOT Communication Technology Bureau Director Peter Huffman said they cancelled the licenses because they no longer share road information via LPFM stations.
Meanwhile, the FCC formally deleted the license of Drake University’s KDRA-LP/94.1 (Des Moines) on Jan. 5, more than 18 months after the university requested cancellation. Drake had notified the FCC of its decision to surrender the license in a June 2019 letter but said at that time that it might continue operations until Aug. 15, 2019.
Wennes Communications Stations’ KDEC/1240 (Decorah), which was forced to leave its licensed site last year, says its new transmitter site is not yet ready. KDEC will co-locate with 1kW time-share partner KWLC/1240 and says in a request for extension of special temporary authority that it anticipates beginning testing within three to four months. KDEC is temporarily operating at reduced power of 250 Watts with a longwire antenna. (1/10/2021)
TV Station Owner Quincy Media Up for Sale
Quincy Media, an owner of more than a dozen network affiliates in the Midwest, confirmed Thursday that it has put itself up for sale.
“We think the timing is right for our shareholders,” President and CEO Ralph M. Oakley said in a news release.
Quincy owns or operates 21 network affiliates in 15 markets, all but three of them in small and medium Midwestern markets. It holds two major network affiliations in five of the markets.
The company got its start in the newspaper business in 1926 and still owns two newspapers, as well as two radio stations in Quincy, Ill. It has more than 1,000 employees. (1/7/2021)
FCC Monitor: Iowa Transmitter back at full power
Gray TV NBC affiliate KWQC/6.1 (Davenport) is back to full power of 1,000kW after transmitter problems that began in late November.
Family Radio’s KYFR/920 (Shenandoah) is operating at reduced power due to a transmitter problem. The station says it has been using 3.5kW daytime, instead of its usual 5kW, since Dec. 2. KYFR continues to use its licensed 2.5kW at night, with different directional antenna patterns for day and night. (1/3/2021)
FOX Moves to Subchannel in Cedar Rapids
Sinclair Broadcast Group has moved its FOX affiliation in the Cedar Rapids market to a subchannel of its CBS affiliate.
Second Generation of Iowa’s KFXA/28.1 (Cedar Rapids) had been the market’s primary FOX affiliate since it signed on in 1988, except for a period of silence in the mid-`90s.
On New Year’s Day, FOX programming was moved to channel 2.2 of Sinclair’s KGAN (Cedar Rapids) but is also still being simulcast on KFXA-DT1. It’s unclear from the station’s brief announcement if FOX will remain on both stations permanently or if it will leave KFXA eventually.
Sinclair has operated KFXA since the early 2000s and purchased its programming and equipment in 2008, but Second Generation of Iowa retained the KFXA license due to FCC ownership rules that prohibit the owner of one top-four station from buying another top-four station. However, ownership rules do not count subchannels as separate licenses, so KGAN-DT1 (CBS) and KGAN-DT2 (FOX) are considered to be the same license for regulatory purposes.
The stations switched to a joint news brand of “Iowa’s News Now” in early 2020.
The New Year’s Day change also resulted in a subchannel shuffle: getTV moved from 2.2 to 2.3, Comet moved from 2.3 to 28.5, and DABL moved from 2.4 to 28.6. Charge!, Grit, and Stadium continue on KFXA’s other subchannels. (1/1/2021)