An article the Bismarck Tribune probably doesn’t want you to see…but then again…

tribune_against_guns_2015-0415A couple of days ago the Bismarck Tribune ran an editorial against a bill restoring expanded rights for those of us who are licensed to carry concealed handguns – apparently without even reading the bill in question, by the way.  They make the dubious claim, “Don’t get us wrong, we are strong defenders of the Second Amendment.” while advocating against the rights of legal gun owners.

I’m not the least bit surprised that the birdcage liner newspaper of record here in Bismarck-Mandan would take such a position.  In fact, twenty-two years ago they pulled a stunt on par with the Fargo Forum’s recent attempt to use its front page to “shame” legislators who crossed the homofascists (oops, I did it again) by following the will of their constituents and voting against SB2279.

In this article from December 19th, 1993, the Tribune decided to “out” legally licensed concealed weapons permit holders just like the Forum decided to “out” those legislators.  The article actually listed the name of every concealed weapon permit holder in Burleigh and Morton Counties!

The article has not appeared online as far as I know, until now as I post it.  This is from the Tribune’s own computerized archive.  Sorry for the lack of formatting – apparently that’s a luxury the old computer system couldn’t afford.  I’ve stripped out the list of names.

Nearly 2,000 North Dakotans can legally carry a loaded, hidden handgun. But they're not law officers. These are the state's farmers, legislators, lawyers, service station attendants, salespeople and who, for protection and convenience, accessed the state's admittedly easy concealed weapon permit process. People like David O'Connell, a Democratic state senator from Lansford. ""I was threatened as a House member, a representative. I introduced a bill and I was told to withdraw it,'' he said. ""I had threats against me and my family.'' Since then, at the urging of law officers, a short-barreled .357 Magnum revolver travels with him on the 50,000 miles he logs yearly in District 6. Or Sen. Bob Stenehjem, R-Bismarck, who applied for convenience: His permit lets him take his Smith & Wesson .44 revolver to the field and range without attracting attention from law officers. ""I don't use it so I can walk around Kirkwood (Mall) with a pistol,'' he said. Or Todd Porter, who directs Metro-Area Ambulance Service and also carries a handgun in his vehicle for protection. Or 89-year-old Fred (last name redacted by Bismarck-Mandan Blog) of McClusky, who worked for years with the Sheridan County Sheriff's Department. Now, his permit is insurance. ""When I retired, the sheriff says, "Why don't you get a concealed weapon permit, in case sometime we might need you.' '' Or Paul (last name redacted by Bismarck-Mandan Blog), who said his license allows him to target shoot and keep a handgun in his work van without worrying about the sheriff. His wife and son also have a permit. Or 1,978 others: Men, women and families from Rhame to Pembina, Wahpeton to Williston. ""These people who have concealed weapons permits are law-abiding citizens,'' said Burleigh County Sheriff Bob Harvey. Generally, law officers don't worry about those who legally carry concealed weapons. ""I'm more concerned about the criminals who are carrying guns,'' said Morton County Chief Deputy Ken Helmer. ""It's the unknown out there that we worry about.'' Still, those responsible for issuing permits say requirements should be tightened. Now, 10 open-book test questions and seven shots from seven yards separate the legal from those who'd face a class A misdemeanor if caught hiding a handgun. ""It's not that hard. If you took your hunter safety test, I'm sure you took a tougher test,'' said Bismarck Police Chief Robert Matzke. ""The actual shooting should be more difficult.'' And Bill Broer, director of the state Bureau of Crimimal Investigation, would only say the test ""isn't that difficult.'' Only people convicted of felonies, some violent misdemeanors and those with confirmed mental problems are ineligible. In Bismarck, the sheriff and the police chief must clear the application - by conducting background checks - before it's forwarded to BCI. Local law officers, lacking discretionary powers, admit they've had to uncomfortably approve shady-looking applicants. ""I've had a few of them,'' Morton County Sheriff Leo Snider said. ""There's a lot of people I don't trust with a weapon.'' If they meet legal requirements, Matzke said, all he can do is ask hard questions. ""I question some reasons,'' he said. ""I ask if they really need it. But if they demand it, I really don't have the authority to deny it.'' The shooting test requires the applicant to fire 10 rounds in five minutes at a large target seven yards away, and hit a human silhouette at least seven times.But the test's aim, said a Bismarck firearms instructor, isn't to ensure marksmanship, just competence. ""If the state was looking for accuracy, it would be too easy,'' said Mike Stensrud. ''If the state was looking for proficiency - know how to load the gun, know how to shoot the gun - I think it's adequate.'' So far this year, 42 Bismarck residents have received concealed weapon permits. And recent changes in Washington affecting handguns have at least raised local interest in the permit process. ""There's been more questions,'' Matzke said. ""But nothing to show an increase.'' Applicants list their reason for applying on the application. ""Most people list self-protection, or they want to carry it out for target practice,'' Harvey said. ""And some people just feel better with it.'' But packing a gun for protection isn't always the safest course if a struggle erupts, Harvey said, because sometimes it's pointed in the wrong direction. ""Any person carrying a gun could cause their own harm, could cause their own death. A lot of people have been shot with their own gun.'' Gun owners and target shooters often apply for concealed weapons permits, Matzke said, even when they don't need it. In North Dakota, a handgun is usually legal as long as the handgun isn't tucked under a seat, shoved in a glove box or hidden from view under a coat.

The following fields overflowed:
PUBDATE = Sunday, December 19, 1993

Morton County residents permitted to carry concealed weapons:
(List of names redacted by Bismarck-Mandan Blog)

(Source: Bureau of Criminal Investigation.)

The following fields overflowed:
PUBDATE = Sunday, December 19, 1993

Burleigh County residents permitted to carry concealed weapons: 
(List of names redacted by Bismarck-Mandan Blog)

(Source: Bureau of Criminal Investigation)
The following fields overflowed:
PUBDATE = Sunday, December 19, 1993

I used to think that the Tribune would probably prefer that North Dakotans forget that they ever pulled this childish little stunt, basically publishing a shopping list for gun thieves and possibly putting people’s safety at risk (including mine)…but given another recent display of animosity toward North Dakotans lawfully carrying concealed weapons, after passing the required background checks, I’m inclined to believe that they aren’t ashamed of it at all.

So tell me again how the Tribune staff are “strong defenders” of the Second Amendment?

Fargo Forum group attempts to whitewash sexual activist ban

forum_whitewash1Boy, the sexual activists were angry once sanity prevailed and SB2279 was defeated in the House.  Their social media was replete with f-bombs and the like, and the Fargo Forum group was ready to hop into the action with its inflammatory front page attempting to “shame” legislators who did the right thing.  Well, it didn’t end there.

Apparently a coffee shop in Fargo decided to have its own tantrum and ban legislators who voted against SB2279.  The ironic part is that the same legislators who were banned totally agree with the shop’s right to deny service to whoever they want!  That kinda took the wind out of the sails of the movement and proved the point the opponents of SB2279 are trying to make, so the activists had to do a “we were just kidding” backpedal job.  The Forum was more than happy to oblige.  Too bad for them there’s that Internet.

forum_whitewash2Here’s the original article from April 3rd at 6:48pm.  The link is here.  If they remove it or rewrite it, the PDF is here.  Note that while the idea is referred to as absurd, only to make opposition to SB2279 seem similarly so, there is no mention that the ban is a joke or “mockingly declared”.  The article claims:

Effective immediately, if you’re among those who voted against Senate Bill 2279 you’ll be shut out completely from the Red Raven.

Apparently someone realized that this probably wasn’t going to go well, predictably so.  After the news story about the ban aired on the Forum’s TV stations, someone probably figured out that this wouldn’t bode well for the cause, and an article published online shortly thereafter by the Forum group paints the stunt in an entirely different light:

forum_whitewash3Here’s the article from later that evening at 7:31pm.  The link is here.  If they remove it or rewrite it, the PDF is here.  In it, the ban has now become a ‘ban’, and it is being portrayed as something totally different:

  • “mockingly declared”;
  • “satirical”;
  • “a joke”;
  • a “fake embargo”;
  • a “satirical, political statement”

Right.  Kinda of reminds me of that Seinfeld clip where George quits his job in a spectacular fashion, then realizes that he’s made a mistake. Mr. Costanza acts like nothing ever happened, he was “kidding”, and that he can’t believe that anyone would have thought he was being serious:

So, which was it – coordinated media effort to keep the agenda plodding forward, or simply sloppy reporting from a historically biased media source?  Either the Forum group got it wrong in the first report or they had to help whitewash the ban after that report hit the air.  The timeline leads me to believe that this was intentional.  The person interviewed at the coffee shop made no mention of it being anything other than a serious ban in the original article despite being quoted four times.  The attempt to walk it back came later.

The fact of the matter is that the tiny minority of sexually disoriented persons in North Dakota and their vocal activists do not reflect “North Dakota values” as they proclaim, and in fact want a one-way street of discrimination and intimidation of people who don’t think the way they do or condone their choice of behavior or lifestyle.  Too bad.  They can try to have these little temper tantrums and even get left-wing media to amplify their ranting, but that doesn’t change the fact that individual liberty prevailed this time.

Fargo Forum proves that SB2279 was about intimidation

260748399-The-Forum-Friday-April-3-cover-originalThis is the “objective journalism” we get from the birdcage liner known as the Fargo Forum.  It proves what I’ve been saying all along: SB2279 is about intimidation.  Here they attempt to “shame” legislators who voted against this abomination for their vote to uphold religious liberty.

Rep. Boschee also made a veiled threat during the floor debate in the House chamber today, when he pointed toward the homofascist attacks on Indiana and Arkansas in the wake of religious liberty legislation being passed in those states.  He implied that the same sort of thing would befall North Dakota if they didn’t fall into lockstep with the other states currently being bullied and extorted into catering to 2.3% of the US population.

This is the “love” and “equality” you find from the sexually disoriented.  They talk a good game when they emote their way through committee hearings and even floor discussion, but what it comes down to is unparalleled vindictiveness.  That’s what SB2279 was all about.

So, I hopped into Photoshop to correct the cover of the Forum:

260748399-The-Forum-Friday-April-3-cover-accurateSB2279 had so many problems simply in its mechanics or lack thereof, but the “big picture” really is that this legislation has a well-documented track record as a blunt instrument used to persecute persons of faith.  The proponents tried to make it about “housing and employment”, but this legislation is most prominently used to go after Grandma when the convictions of her faith lead her to decline providing flowers for a homosexual “wedding”.

Stay classy, Fargo Forum.  No wonder you’re a dying breed.

Winter playlist (UPDATED)

I know we all hope there isn’t much winter left, but I finally decided to put together some links to the songs on my current Winter Playlist. Thanks to that lovely Internet, I can share these songs with you either via YouTube or iTunes. If you find a broken link, let me know.

In looking over the list, I realized a couple of things:

  • My tastes over winter tend a little toward the electronic, but not exclusively;
  • I seem to favor a certain style female vocalists in the winter;
  • I tend to choose more ethereal or wistful music.

I figure a lot of this is because it gets dark early during winter, and it’s more a matter of how the darkness affects my mood. Some of these songs, though, have a sentimental attachment from my time working for Mountain Operations for a ski resort out in the Rockies. Snowboarding for a living when you’re in your late teens and early twenties is a real blast if you can pull it off – just make sure you get back to college after your sabbatical!

Anyway, here’s the list. No particular order. If you don’t like one, move on to the next. Feedback appreciated.

UPDATE: I forgot a couple of songs, so I’ve added them to the beginning of the list.

Grouper – “Vessel” (I originally forgot this one) LINK

Spiritualized – “200 Bars” (One more tragic oversight) LINK

Junip – “Far Away” LINK

Kid Loco – “Relaxin’ with Cherry” LINK

Kitchens of Distinction – “Mad As Snow” LINK

Nasty Rox, Inc – “10th Wonder” LINK

Télépopmusik – “Breathe” LINK

The War On Drugs – “Comin’ Through” LINK

One Dove – “Breakdown” LINK

Mac-Talla – “Griogal Cridhe (Beloved Gregor)” LINK

Lost Lander – “Wonderful World” LINK

Minks – “Everything’s Fine” LINK

Lord Huron – “She Lit A Fire” LINK

The Besnard Lakes – “We’re Here For A Good Time (Not A Long Time)” LINK

The Sundays – “Here’s Where the Story Ends” LINK

The Nightgowns – “Narwhal Aerobics” LINK

JEFF the Brotherhood – “Heavy Days” LINK

Steve Mason – “All Come Down” LINK

Royksopp – “Remind Me” LINK

Big Spider’s Back – “Terminal Seat” LINK

Big Spider’s Back – “Brigette Bombay” LINK

The Innocence Mission – “That Was Another Country” LINK

Sin Fang Bous – “Melt Down the Knives” LINK

Miko Mission – “How Old Are You” LINK

Lower Dens – “Brains” LINK

Phenomenal Handclap Band – “Following” LINK

Chad Valley – “Fast Challenges” LINK

The Octopus Project – “I Saw the Bright Shinies” LINK

Blue Sky Black Death – “Sleeping Children Are Still Flying” LINK

Lindsey Buckingham – “Trouble” LINK

New Division – “Starfield” LINK

The Lonely Forest – “Coyote” LINK

Pink Floyd – “Learning to Fly (Live version)” LINK

Trentemøller – “Snowflake” LINK

Dapuntobeat – “0 (Dospuntocero)” LINK

When Saints Go Machine – “Fail Forever” LINK

Kruder & Dorfmeister – “The Lick” LINK

Midnight Masses – “Walk on Water” LINK

Pixies – “Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf Mix)” LINK

Iska Dhaaf – “All the Kids” LINK

The Ocean Blue – “The Planetarium Scene” LINK

Yello – “Sometimes” LINK

Mint Royale – “Always Welcome” LINK

Ian Brown – “Northern Lights” LINK

We Were Promised Jetpacks – “Keeping Warm” LINK

Thomas Dolby – “Leipzig is Calling” (Live) LINK

808 State – “Pacific 202” LINK

Suuns – “Up Past the Nursery” LINK

Spiritualized – “I Think I’m in Love” LINK

José González – “Heartbeats” LINK

Nicola Conte – “Bossa Per Due” LINK

Nitzer Ebb – “Let Beauty Loose” LINK

Slowdive – “Rutti” LINK

Rupert Hine – “With One Look” LINK

The Future Sound of London – “Papua New Guinea” LINK

Dreadzone – “A Dream Within A Dream” LINK

Active Child – “I’m In Your Church at Night” LINK

BØRNS – “10,000 Emerald Pools” LINK

So, there ya have it.  That’s what I like to have playing when out driving around looking for photos or hiking in the snow.  Of course, it’s about time to start looking for a Spring playlist!

Why “The LEGO Movie” should have been released on Freedom Friday, not Taco Tuesday (SPOILERS)

lego_movie_1Today was a long awaited day in my house; the LEGO Movie came out on Blu-Ray today! My boys and I had “three dudes time” to see this at the luxurious Grand Theater and were eager to watch it with Mommy. Tonight that dream came true.

Let’s get one thing straight: This is a DAD movie. I knew this from seeing it in the theater, but the point was driven home again tonight…strongly, considering all I’ve gone through lately and the fact that Father’s Day was two days ago.

With that in mind, I’d like to point out why this movie should have been released last Friday, in anticipation of Father’s Day, not today. There are spoilers here, so you’ve been warned to come back after you’ve seen the movie.






. (spoilers below)






lego_movie_2I was surprised when the film switched to live-action, but impressed how they bridged the happenings in the LEGO universe with the play of the young boy. Where the whole point of the movie gets driven home, however, is when the boy’s father appears. We conservatives are used to Hollywood movies having leftist agendas, so when the villain was named Lord Business many people automatically thought it was an indictment of capitalism. No, guys…it’s not. It’s an indictment of dads so wrapped up in work and order that they are no longer capable of playing with their little boys. I’m pretty sensitive about this subject, and I have been since I was a kid, so I caught on right away.


lego_movie_3So did the boy’s father, the instant he found the President Business figure. At an hour and twenty-eight minutes into the movie: denouement. The father gets a heart-wrenching lesson from his boy: it’s important to remember to play. Realizing how he has figured into his little boy’s play world, Will Farrell’s character is convicted in his heart. The loving, contrite way in which he opens up to his boy is a perfect lesson every dad needs to see, and of which we should be reminded regularly.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the structure of our lives and forget how to play. There’s always one more thing to be done, there are always demands at work and at home, and innumerable distractions try to worm their way in between a Daddy and his children. As one of my favorite Grasshopper Takeover songs says, “You can never get it back…you can only let it go.” That, my friends, is the real lesson behind the LEGO Movie, the sweet message that I think too many have completely missed, and the reason why I think it should be a Father’s Day staple from this day forward.

Okay, it’s a little weird getting FOX on “Channel 5” – but it isn’t really 5 anyway (UPDATED)

kfyr_sale_2013A while ago I posted that the local television landscape would be undergoing even more changes as the Hoak Media stations such as KFYR  were being sold again, as was the KNDX cluster or stations owned by Prime Cities.  Then, to complicate things, the company that bought the KFYRs, KVLY, and KSFYs signed a tentative agreement to operate the KNDXs.  Whee.  I bet that’ll make for a busy control room.

Well, tonight I finally decided to watch 24 on KNDX instead of the web (I turned it off halfway through, though, to play a game with my little boy) and noticed that I wasn’t getting 26.1 anymore.  I knew the transition was coming, but I watch so little television these days that I hadn’t rescanned yet.  Sure enough, I picked up FOX on what my television calls “5.2” and no channel 26 could be found.

In case I didn’t mention it here, although I think I did on my blog’s Facebook page, the scuttlebutt I’d heard was for KNDX to move to 5.2, MeTV to eventually move to 26.1, and BEK Communications programming to reside on 26.2 or 26.3.  MeTV is still on 5.3, but I don’t expect that to last long.  The reason is that any TV station like KFYR only gets 6MHz of bandwidth for their TV signal, and the only way to fit more on it is by compressing the signals digitally – decreasing the picture quality.


Analog-vs-Digital-SignalI decided to make this rudimentary graphic (engineers, don’t freak) to give a broad overview of how TV signals are different these days.  On the left is the same old snowy analog signal that we grew up with, and on the right is the new digital DTV signal which provides that high definition picture.  Both use the same 6 MHz of bandwidth, which means the frequency range for their signal to modulate (think vibrate) in.

Note all the ups and downs on the left.  That’s because an analog TV signal was actually three different signals:  You had the picture, which was an AM signal (like the radio in Grandpa’s car, sorta).  This was actually black and white.  Then you have the color subcarrier, which put the color information into the picture, also AM.  Finally, spaced away from the video carrier by a specific offset, was the audio signal – but this is an FM carrier (like the radio the kids used to listen to in the 80’s).

On the right, you simply have one monster signal, going full blast like a fire hose from end to end (Note: engineers, I don’t think the readers want to hear about sideband right now).  What this signal is doing, rather than delivering actual pictures in wavy format, is trying to spew forth as many error-free ones and zeros as possible.  What the TV station does with those ones and zeros, however, is where the magic happens.

Say you’re Prairie Public, for example.  You put four channels on it: 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, and 3.4.  Or perhaps, like KX, you put up one HD channel and one weather channel. KBMY has recently started doing the same thing.

What KFYR has done up to this point is put out a 1080i HD signal for KFYR and a 480i (standard definition) signal for MeTV.  This makes sense, as the programming on MeTV was produced for a 4×3, standard definition broadcast picture.  But for the time being they now also have a 720p HD signal for KNDX running on the same data stream, meaning that their 6MHz bandwidth has to fit a lot more information on it.  I’m sure they’re eager to get MeTV moved over to 26 as soon as it’s technically feasible.


fcc-tv-queryOne other thing that’s noteworthy about Channel 26 vs. Channel 5 is that it is actually Channel 26.  When the federal government mandated that stations begin broadcasting digitally only and abandon their analog signal, many stations had to change frequencies.  In our area, “Channel 5” is one of these.

As you can see in the FCC table above, stations with frequencies already within the newly defined broadcast TV spectrum such as KXMB, KBMY, and KNDX were able to keep their existing channels.  KBME and KFYR, channels 3 and 5 respectively, weren’t so lucky.

Obviously these stations, and many like them, have spent fifty or sixty years identifying themselves with a channel number, and they’d rather not start from scratch.  No worries, though; they’re allowed to identify themselves as their old channel, even though the radio frrequencies they’re using to broadcast their signal are nowhere near that actual channel number.  As the chart above indicates, KFYR is actually Channel 31 and KBME is actually Channel 22.  You’ll never see them come up on your television that way, however.

The transition from analog television to digital television has been pretty weird.  The economic picture of terrestrially-based broadcasting has been equally spooky, with all these stations combining resources to remain viable while spending millions in capital expenses to adopt the new technology.  Thankfully, all you have to do to continue receiving the signals over the air at this point is to rescan every now and then to pick up any channels you’ve missed or, in rare cases like this, may have moved.

Update:  I’ve been told that there will be no Channel 26 in Bismarck, 24 in Minot.  That means what I’d heard through the grapevine about a MeTV/BEK thing on 26, 24, and the low-power stations in Williston and Dickinson is not happening.  Channel 5 may be a little more crowded, but all three pictures still look great…so I doubt they’re stressing their available bandwidth.

The Democrat letter-writing machine is in full gear. Here’s how to spot ’em

quinn_lettersHere we are, well into 2014 and the Democrats barely even have any candidates named for office.  That’s no surprise, considering the destruction their party has wrought on a national level.  Anyone with a “D” next to their name is likely to get a well deserved, good old-fashioned hinder-spanking.  What they are doing, however, is getting their tinfoil-hat brigade into full swing in letter-writing mode, hitting the “Letter to the Editor” pages as frequently as they can.

I’ve written my share of letters to the editor of our local newspaper as well, and I think it’s a great means of citizen activism.  What I am pointing out in this article is the orchestrated wave of motivated foot soldiers, belching Democrat Party talking points to the printed page in increasing volume.

I’ve noticed it lately because I check the Tribune’s Letters to the Editor page regularly.  I’ve mentioned before that their Comments sections (when they had them) were where one could go to kill a few brain cells.  But these are actual letters submitted to the paper, verified by the editor, and signed with people’s real names.  But who are these people, and why should you pay attention what they’ve written?

In the case of the Bismarck Tribune, you only have to do one additional click to get some background on a letter writer before you lend credence to what they have to say:

lebak_letterTake this cookie-cutter screed from Henry Lebak (to whom I’ve retorted on the Tribune’s Letter to the Editor page) going after Margaret Sitte.  This is the only race I can think in which the Democrats actually want to compete, so here comes the attack.  Well, simply click on good ol’ Henry’s name in the blue byline text, and you’ll come up with this list of what he’s written in the past:

lebak_lettersMister Lebak’s been busy.  He’s got a litany of “Republicans bad, Democrats good” type stuff in his repertoire. Fine…that’s his right.  But my point is that this isn’t just some regular guy who finally got so fed up with Senator Sitte or the Republicans that he had to finally write a letter and air his grievances.  No, this is a semi-pro.

There are other leftists, such as the one shown in the top image, who have an even longer list of vitriol than Henry does.  I don’t have to accuse Mr. Lebak or others of being shills for the Democrat Party, and it doesn’t matter if they are.  They’re activists, as evidenced by the volume of their writing, and it all reads like Democrat Party fundraising letters and talking points memos.

I’ve got few letters to the editor on the Tribune’s site, too…but I’ve got a website on which I’ve boldly declared where I stand on matters of faith and politics.  You may agree with me, you may not.  But if you still don’t know who I am, clicking on my byline will also bring up my list of rants and give you a good picture of who this crazy right-winger extremist zealot is.  Do your research.

This is especially important right now because, as I have pointed out above, agents of the left are already busy pecking away at their keyboards (with the W’s still removed, no doubt) and flooding newspaper editors’ inboxes all over North Dakota.  Take the time for one extra click, see what else they’ve written, and if you get a list as long as the guys above you can be sure you’re dealing with an activist.



Broadcasting is a strange business these days, and I’m glad I was able to get out of working in it full-time just as it was starting to get spooky.  Consolidation, especially in smaller markets, seems to have been the trend for at least the past ten to fifteen years.  It may be causing another twist here in DMA #145.

Recently the sale of the Hoak Media stations in North Dakota (formerly ND Television, formerly Sunrise, formerly Meyer Broadcasting, and a few in-betweens) to Gray Television Inc. was announced.  This includes not only KFYR (Bismarck), KMOT (Minot), KQCD (Dickinson), and KUMV (Williston), but also KVLY (Fargo) and the KSFY group (Sioux Falls).  That in itself is noteworthy, but there was something further down the press release that was even more interesting:

Separate from the Hoak and Parker transactions, Excalibur has reached a definitive agreement with Prime Cities to acquire the following television stations:

KNDX FOX Minot-Bismarck-Dickinson, ND 145
KXND* FOX Minot-Bismarck-Dickinson, ND 145
* satellite station    

Gray and Excalibur have agreed to enter into industry-standard shared services agreements through which Gray will provide back-office services and limited programming to Excalibur’s stations in the Lincoln, Fargo, Bismarck, and Monroe markets.  The shared services arrangements will commence upon Excalibur’s purchase of those stations.

The bold emphasis is mine.  This looks to me like KNDX isn’t going to have local technical staff for long.  It’s called an LMA, or Local Marketing Agreement.  This is not a new phenomenon in North Dakota; KVLY in Fargo operates KXJB in this manner for Parker Broadcasting out of Texas (thus the “Valley News Live” moniker).  This is a different arrangement than the Reitens’ KX network has with KBMY (Bismarck) and KMCY (Minot) on behalf of the Forum group; they handle sales locally while master control of the Beemer’s programming originates from Fargo.

While FCC rules prohibit one entity from owning multiple stations in the market, it does not prohibit them from operating multiple stations.  It’s a convoluted deal that could only be concocted by corporate bean-counters, but one that possibly ends up saving some small market television stations that would otherwise be unviable.  Whether or not it benefits the viewing public is a matter of contention.

Western North Dakota FOX has never been a powerhouse in a market that even the Forum group couldn’t crack; Meyer Broadcasting and Reiten Broadcasting established themselves in the 1950s and have never faced serious competition aside from each other.  (As an aside, Forum tried it with KBMY/KMCY.  They folded up their news operations here right before I joined the station’s technical staff.)  Now that KNDX/KXND have been sold to a company that’s going to try to cut costs and recoup their investment, and are named in a press release from a company who will “provide back office services” to their new owners, the future looks pretty apparent.  Better touch up that resume’ just in case.

As a former board op for the ABC and NBC groups, I’m concerned about what happens to the technical staff.  It typically means more jury-rigging in the control room and more demand put on the button pushers.  Hopefully, if my interpretation of this press release is correct and the FOX stations start running out of an NBC control room, it’ll be done in a way that causes as few Maalox Moments for the guys in master control.

A trip down broadcasting’s Memory Lane: Faces of Country Morning

I hope you all are aware of this, but just in case you aren’t – Phil Parker and Mark Armstrong are back on the air on KFYR-AM 550 with their “P.M.S. in the Morning” show. It’s fun, it’s local, it’s clean, and for me it brings back very fond memories.

I put in around 14 years at KFYR-TV, and during a part of that we used to simulcast the Country Morning program from 6 to 6:30 every weekday morning. Al Gustin would go down the hall to the AM radio studio, where we had a couple of cameras, and the guys would bring their combination of local news and weather as well as a dose of frivolity for the last segment of the half-hour. It was a blast and a privilege.

One of Phil & Mark’s trademark contributions to the show was an intentionally low-budget “camcorder” segment where they’d take a VHS camcorder with them on visits to small town activities and then show portions of the resulting footage on the air. This was an homage to that shooting style. One morning I decided to grab my old VHS camcorder (this was twenty years ago, after all) and do a little “behind the scenes” segment for the program. I’d all but forgotten about it, but I came across it this week while I was going through some old tapes and thought I’d share:

Al has since retired from broadcasting, Phil and Mark are back on the air, I haven’t spoken to Crystal in a few months, Mike passed away several years ago, and Reed and I are out saving the world one day at a time. Even during my tenure at KFYR-TV I moved on from overnights and mornings, working primarily on video production work and the afternoon and evening newscasts. I’m glad I got to work on Country Morning when I did. Currently you can catch the same ol’ familiar spirit in the revived Phil & Mark Show, PMS in the Morning, even if only on the radio side of things. Be sure to give it a listen.

I love the 80s

flashback_iphone_1040Going through some boxes of old books that my mom brought over from their house, I found these among the forgotten gems in those dusty old boxes.  Pac Man themed Archie, a guide to defeating that darn Rubik’s Cube, and an orientation to my beloved Apple //c.

I was among the first to get that new Apple computer, a pseudo-portable version of the Apple //e.  Sure, it had a handle, but it was like stapling a handle to your PC.  The power supply was external, there was no battery, and you had to lug a monitor with you as well.  Still, it was a capable and dependable little computer.  I soon shrugged off this paperback for the ring-bound Technical Reference Manual as I started digging into the guts of the machine.

I like Archie comics as a teenager.  I’m not sentimental about them, really, I just think it was cool to find one with a Pac Man theme on the cover.  I’m sentimental about THAT.

Maybe it’s time to take another crack at the Rubik’s Cube.  I never had the patience for it as a kid.  This summer somebody handed me a Pyraminx, the tetrahedral equivalent of the cube, and I was still able to solve it in under two minutes.  That pesky block, though, always bested me.  Perhaps I should read this book and give it another go!

Among the other treasures I found are piles of old Peanuts paperbacks, which I plan to share with my kids.  Peanuts cartoons are timeless, insightful, and the star of countless hours of my childhood.  I’m excited to sort through the rest of these and find appropriate places on my bookshelves to make them available for our family.  While I love archiving things digitally, there’s just something about having a book to draw from the shelves.  These are one of my favorite parts of the 80s.