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John Lamb, Published September 08 2013

Rock 102 returns to FM dial

FARGO – Fargo, are you ready to rock – again?

A year and a half after being pulled, Rock 102 is back on the air.

The station returned Sunday after the Minnesota Vikings football game broadcast and will play 2,000 rock songs without commercial interruption until next Sunday’s Vikings kick-off.

The station, at 101.9 FM, switched from a music format to a conservative talk format, Talk FM, in March 2012. The change was not well-received by the station’s fans, and in short order a “Bring Rock 102 “Back Facebook page was created. As of late Sunday afternoon, the page had 238 likes.

The unhappiness showed in the Arbitron ratings. Rock 102 got a 4.1 in the fall of 2011. In the next ratings period, Talk FM pulled in only a 1.6 rating. In the most recent book, Talk FM garnered a 1.7 rating for spring 2013.

Rock 102 radio personality Noel Anderson, better known as Scotch, had been active on the Facebook page and sent out Sunday’s press release announcing the station’s return. Anderson also draws cartoons that are published in The Forum under the name Scotch.

“A lot of us felt like we were unceremoniously dumped just when Rock 102 was just starting to take off,” Anderson said after celebrating the station’s return at Tailgators Sports Café on Sunday.

“It’s pretty rare that a radio station gets to dust itself off and plug back in,” Anderson said. “So, if you were a fan of Rock 102, we’re not done with you yet.”

Peter Tanz, vice president of operations for the Wisconsin-based of Midwest Communications, which runs Rock 102 as part of Midwest Radio of Fargo Moorhead, said the station returned because people missed it.

“We purchased the stations on May 1st, and literally on May 1 people started telling us, ‘Please bring back the rock station.’ And the requests to bring the station back really haven’t subsided,” Tanz said.

In May, Midwest Communications bought FM stations KRWK 101.9 (FM Talk), WDAY 93.7 (Y94), KBVB 95.1 (Bob 95) and KMJO 104.7 (Mojo) as well as AM stations KFGO 790 and KVOX 740 (The Fan) from Jim Ingstad.

The following day Ingstad bought his former rival FM stations KPFK 107.9 (The Fox), KLTA 105.1, KVOX 99.9 (Froggy) and KQWB 98.7 (Q98), and on the AM side KQWB 1660 (True Oldies) and KBMW 1450.

“Our company being new to town, we’d like to feel like we’ve listened to what people have asked for,” Tanz said Sunday. “So, we think this station will sound different than other current rock offerings.”

Anderson, who returns to the air in the 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. slot Sept. 16 with old pals Tank and Lucy, said Rock 102 will play contemporary hard rock and classic rock.

Asked if there were plans for any other format changes among Midwest’s stations, Tanz said, “It’s Fargo radio, and I think there will always be something that’s changing.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533