Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Radio’s Journal of Record since 1984 — now online & updated daily at
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Scott Fybush - Editor
[email protected]
Ice claims a tower in South Carolina. That storm that whipped its way across the southeast over the weekend took
down at least one broadcast facility: the 459-foot self-supporter atop Hogback Mountain that was home to WSPATV (Channel 7)/WSPA-DT (Channel 53) in Spartanburg. The Media General-owned CBS affiliate is blaming high
winds and ice for the tower’s collapse. FCC records show that the 459-foot tower was built in 2001, replacing a
1963-vintage, 257-foot self-supporter that appears to have also suffered storm damage. WSPA-TV took advantage
of DTV technology to keep a signal on the air: Media General also owns CW affiliate WYCW (Channel 62), and it
put WSPA’s programming on WYCW’s 62.2 subchannel, which also enabled feeds to continue to reach cable and
satellite viewers. Meanwhile, the radio stations on Hogback Mountain – Entercom’s WTPT, Forest City, NC (93.3)
and WSPA-FM, Spartanburg, SC (98.9) – are on a separate tower that Entercom just built last summer at the site,
and that tower survived the storm intact.
A Kinstar takes to the air in Oregon. As regulatory hassles make it ever harder to find workable sites for conventional
vertical AM antennas, many broadcasters are looking for lower-profile solutions – and one of the more prominent in
recent years has been Kintronic Labs’ “Kinstar” antenna, which uses five telephone poles to support a wire antenna
that’s about a third as tall as a normal quarter-wave vertical tower. Until now, the Kinstar has been demonstrated
only on an experimental basis – but just last week, the first of the new antennas entered regular broadcast use, as
Jon Thompson’s Coast Broadcasting Company received a license to cover for its new antenna at KCST, Florence,
OR (1250), where it replaces a conventional tower a mile and a half away. On the FCC’s books, the new antenna for
KCST appears as a 28.8-degree tower with 61.2 degrees of top-loading. KCST drops from 1-kw to 900 watts by day
and from 68 watts to 37 watts at night from the new site – and it continues a tradition of AM antenna experimentation
on the Pacific coast. It’s about 350 miles from Florence north to Mount Vernon, Washington, where the “PARAN”
antenna built in the early nineties at KAPS (660) was another experiment in lower-profile AM transmission systems.
Kinstar’s Tom King will present a paper on the KCST antenna system on April 21 at the NAB Show Broadcast
Engineering Conference.
Keeping the count at the FCC. It seems as though the Commission has to be reminded occasionally to issue what’s
supposed to be a quarterly total of the number of broadcast stations on the air in the U.S. Last week, the Portals
released the figures as of the end of December – and the September figures that never came out last fall. In all, they’re
edging close to the 30,000-station mark, once you total up AM and FM broadcast radio (4786 AMs, 6427 commercial
FMs and 3040 noncom FMs as of the end of 2008), plus 859 LPFMs, 1759 full-power TV stations and more than
12,000 TV and FM translators, which all added up to 29,832 broadcast signals for the Media Bureau to keep track of
as of Dec. 31, 2008. (That was up 68 signals from the end of September, thanks mostly to new radio signals.)
Clear Channel’s WKDD comes home. Here’s an interesting case of “what goes around, comes around” – back in
2001, a massive round of format and call-letter shuffles and station sales in northeast Ohio relocated WKDD’s calls
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and hot AC format from the Akron-licensed class B on 96.5 to the former WHK-FM, Canton, a class B on 98.1 some
20 miles south of Akron that had formerly belonged to Salem. 96.5 remained licensed to Akron, but added Cleveland
service by moving to the WTAM 1100 tower, co-located with WZAK (93.1). To improve the new WKDD 98.1’s reach into
Akron after that 2001 shuffle, Clear Channel relocated the station from its old site in Louisville, OH, east of Canton, to
a new tower in Hartville, north of Canton. Though an improvement, this site has serious coverage issues over much
of Akron. Now WKDD is on the move again: it changed city of license last year from Canton to the Akron suburb of
Munroe Falls, and it’s now applied to move its transmitter to the tower on Bellaire Lane just north of Akron that used
to be home to the old WKDD 96.5. The new WKDD 98.1 will have a DA pull-in toward Canada (and coincidentally,
toward Cleveland) to clear a recent allocation in London, ON, but with the new signal, WKDD will once again cover all
of Akron with city-grade service.
Clarifying the role of travelers’ information stations. There’s a potential rulemaking proceeding underway over at
the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau that could be of interest to broadcasters – especially if they
have local governments in their areas operating low-power TIS signals as quasi-radio stations. That seems to be an
especially common trend out west, where many suburbs of San Francisco and LA use their TIS operations to provide
community calendar information and even broadcasts of city council meetings. That’s not a role the TIS rules (found in
Part 90 of the FCC’s regulations) ever envisioned. But last year, two petitioners – Highway Information Systems (HIS)
and the American Association of Information Radio Operators (AAIRO) – asked the FCC to consider changing the Part
90 rules to broaden the scope of programming TIS signals can carry.
+ From “TIS” to “Local Government Radio Service”? The HIS petition would relabel TIS stations as “Local
Government Radio Service,” eliminating the limitation that requires those signals to be near major highways and
broadening the scope of programming to include “information of a non-commercial nature,” rather than just information
aimed at travelers. AAIRO’s petition is less broad – it seeks a “[r]uling that any message concerning the safety of life or
protection of property that may affect any traveler or any individual in transit or soon to be in transit, may be transmitted
on Travelers’ Information Stations (“TIS”), at the sole discretion of officials authorized to operate such stations.” The
FCC is looking for comment on whether to issue a rulemaking proceeding on the proposed changes. It’s Docket 09-19
at the Public Safety bureau, RM-11514, and comments are due March 16, with reply comments due March 30.
In Texas, an AM daytimer moves to the big city. KTMR, Edna, TX (1130) served the small coastal city of Victoria
for more than three decades as a 10-kw daytime-only directional signal – but now it’s completed a big move inland,
relocating by some 50 miles west to a new city of license of Converse, TX. The new facility, 32 miles east of San
Antonio, uses three towers to relay the business talk programming already heard in two bigger markets. It’s on KTEK,
Alvin/Houston (1110) – and it just moved from KJSA, Mineral Wells/Dallas (also on 1110) to KVCE, Highland Park/
Dallas (1160).
Even after station insiders complained, the fine remained the same. There are no office politics quite so vicious,
at least in our experience, as at community noncom FMs. And now Mid-Coast Radio Project, Inc. is finding that out the
hard way, with a $3,000 Notice of Apparent Liability for a late renewal application at its KKFI, Kansas City (90.1). KKFI
was due to apply for renewal in October, 2004, but didn’t apply until January 25, 2005, a week before its license was
due to expire. In September, 2005, the FCC heard from KKFI’s former office manager and its former general manager,
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News of the Week
both alleging numerous violations of FCC rules, including EAS problems, public-file issues, indecency and obscenity.
(“I witnessed what I consider to be egregious examples of misconduct, poor leadership and an overall disregard for
the stated mission of the station,” wrote ex-GM Joshua Powers.) But when agents inspected KKFI in May, 2007, they
found nearly everything in order, with just a few minor public-file issues meriting a verbal admonishment from the field
agent. Last week, the Commission ruled that some of the other allegations, including indecent content and payola,
lacked sufficient evidence to proceed. So the FCC tossed the objections, leaving only the NAL for the late-filed renewal
Allocations action in rural Nevada. The main industry in the unincorporated community of Crystal, Nevada, off a dirt
road 60 miles west of Las Vegas, is – no fooling – the two brothels that together make up the town’s top (and, really,
only) tourist attraction. And the last time Crystal made headlines was back in 2005, when “Hollywood Madam” Heidi
Fleiss said she was going to set up a high-class establishment in Crystal catering to female customers. “Heidi’s Stud
Farm” apparently never saw the light of day (or rather the dark of night). But now Crystal’s in the FCC’s headlines
– it’s reallocating an unbuilt allotment from 100.1C in Beatty, NV, another 60 miles northwest on US 95, to 100.1C3 in
Crystal, where it will presumably attempt to rimshot Las Vegas. The Commission also allotted two more new FM channels
to the area: 99.7A to Beatty, and 100.3C1 to Goldfield, NV. (Goldfield, you may recall, is the hometown of “legal pirate”
Rod Moses, who stirred up some controversy two years ago when he worked with Nevada senator Harry Reid to get the
FCC to grant him a one-of-a-kind LPFM permit on the grounds that he was providing service to a unserved area.)
More allocations action in LA, MI, SC, AZ. The FCC has added a new FM allocation at 102.7 in Evart, MI, shifting
WMOM, Pentwater, MI from 102.7A to 96.3A, moving WMLQ, Manistee, MI from 97.7A to 104.3A, and changing a
vacant 96.3A allotment in Ludington, MI to 97.7A. In Louisiana, the FCC is considering a proposal from KMYO-FM,
Morgan City to upgrade from C3 to C2 on 96.7 and move east to Gray, in the Thibodaux-Houma area adding city-grade
service to an additional 75,000 people. That proposal would require a vacant allotment at Dulac, LA to move from
96.3A to 93.9A. Comments are due April 20, reply comments May 5. The FCC also opened comments on proposed
allotments of 99.9A to Williston, SC, 15 miles southeast of Aiken, and 97.7C1 to McNary, AZ, near the state’s eastern
border. Comments on those proposed allotments are due April 13, reply comments April 28.
Signals in the news in Sacramento. Bustos Media recently shuffled its FM lineup in Sacramento, moving regional
Mexican “Ke-Buena” KTTA from the class A signal on 97.9, licensed to Esparto, CA, to the bigger B1 signal on 94.3,
licensed to Jackson. The KLMG calls formerly on 94.3 moved to 97.9, now as “Mega 97.9” instead of the “Magia”
name the Spanish hits format had used on the old frequency. With 4.3-kw/791’ from the Gold Country foothills east of
Sacramento, the 94.3 facility puts a respectable fringe signal into both Sacramento and Stockton; the 6-kw/328’ 97.9
facility comes from northwest of Sacramento, putting its strongest signal over rural Yolo County.
Note to our fax subscribers: Technical difficulties occured in the fax transmission for the 2/18 and 2/25 issues. We
have corrected the problem. We apologize for the inconvenience. If you need a refeed of either issue, please email us
at [email protected].
Copyright 2009. M Street Corporation. All rights reserved. No portion of the Radio Journal may be copied, faxed, retransmitted or reproduced in any form without written
permission of the publishers. All efforts are made to report data as accurately as possible. Online updates are available by subscription. To subscribe, call 800-248-4242 or
online at Annual rate: $169. Scott Fybush, Editor. To advertise, call Gene McKay, General Manager, 800-640-8852 or Beth Dell’Isola, 770-831-4585.