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Wendy Reuer, Eric Peterson and John Lamb, Forum Staff Writers , Published April 18 2012

Local radio stations see changes

FARGO – Scott Hennen, a conservative talk-show host and radio station manager, has signed an agreement to buy back 1100 AM The Flag, the Fargo radio station he founded in 2008 before his invest-ors fired him in 2010.

Hennen’s announcement Wednesday was one of many recent shake-ups in Fargo-Moorhead radio formats that include the conversion of a sports station and a religious station into music formats.

Hennen told The Forum he will announce the move, which requires approval from the Federal Communications Com-mission, today on-air during Chris Berg’s “We the People” show at 8 a.m. on 1100 AM.

Hennen said his show will return to the Fargo airwaves once the purchase is complete, possibly by May 1.

His show currently airs from 8 to 11 a.m. weekdays in parts of North Dakota and western Minnesota. It is syndicated nationally by Eagan, Minn.,-based Genesis Communications but does not air in Fargo. It was cut from Grand Forks’ KNOX-AM radio lineup in late March. Station owners said they wanted to move toward more news-oriented programming.

Hennen declined to discuss a possible time slot for his show Wednesday, saying that would be discussed today. He said he will look to listeners for feedback on future programming at The Flag. “(There will be) an effort to involve listeners in formulating that plan,” Hennen said.

Hennen, a Montevideo, Minn., native, started in radio in 1992 at a Grand Forks station. He eventually moved to Fargo and WDAY-AM, where he stayed as a radio host and general manager until 2008, when Hennen and a group of investors bought The Flag.

In September 2010, the board of directors decided to remove Hennen from his position as president and CEO of Great Plains Integrated Marketing Inc.

Hennen continued to be on air at The Flag until his high-profile firing in May 2011. His show was cut off – going to dead air in the midst of his announcement to listeners that the station had elected to drop his show.

Hennen said he couldn’t pass up a second chance to own The Flag.

“I saw (it) as a way to go back to our original vision of serving the listeners that have listened to me in the Red River Valley,” he said.

Hennen said he is purchasing The Flag only, not any of the other stations owned by Great Plains Integrated Marketing.

Two other metro stations are switching to air commercial music, executives announced Wednesday.

KQWB 1660 AM, which has aired ESPN sports radio, will become an oldies music station, officially launching Monday.

True Oldies 1660 AM will play music that ranges primarily from the late 1950s to the late 1970s, said Michael Brooks, general manager of Go Radio, which operates 1660 AM.

“There is a lot sports programming in the market already, and there isn’t anyone catering to the true oldies,” Brooks said. “It’s just a segment of the market that hasn’t been covered.”

Brooks said the station will continue to air local sports, including Concordia Cobbers and Moorhead Spuds broadcasts.

A portion of the ESPN programming will remain in this market: The Fan 740 AM plans to pick up some ESPN shows to augment its current sports lineup.

Joel Heitkamp, operations manager for The Fan, said the ESPN programming will begin airing as early as next week.

Another change will be seen on the FM side. In March, Robert J. Ingstad’s Mediactive LLC bought 92.7 from Northwestern College, turning it from Legacy, a contemporary Christian music lineup, to the “The Bone.”

The Bone has been playing hard-rock songs by bands such as Metallica, Disturbed and Godsmack.

Station owner Robert J. Ingstad says he’ll play more than 10,000 songs uninterrupted until early May, at which time the “The Bone” will run no more than eight commercial minutes every hour.

He says the hard-rock lineup will appeal to the 18- to 34-year-old demographic and challenge Q98 for listeners. Q98 is owned by Go Radio.

“It’s an exciting place to be because the active rock format is doing real well,” Ingstad said.

Robert J. Ingstad lives in Valley City. He and a cousin own five stations each in Fairbanks, Alaska, and Klamath Falls, Ore.

Radio has been a family business for Ingstad. His late father, Robert E. Ingstad, and mother, Jan Ingstad, owned stations. His uncle James Ingstad owns Radio Fargo-Moorhead, the Fargo-based six-station ownership group that will sell ads for The Bone and also includes The Fan.

Northwestern College still runs Life 97.9 KFNW FM in Fargo, a contemporary Christian music station.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530