Changes afoot for Longmont, Loveland radio stations

Several changes are in the works for AM radio stations in Longmont and Loveland that had been beaming satellite-fed Roman Catholic-oriented programming to Front Range listeners.

The programming, which originates with Excelsior Springs, Mo.-based Catholic Radio Network, had been heard since 2008 on 7,000-watt KPIO-AM 1570 in Loveland but was switched to the 50,000-watt signal of KRCN-AM 1060 in Longmont on Jan. 1. The Loveland signal has gone silent.

CRN, an affiliate of the Eternal Word Television Network, has been leasing KRCN’s facilities from its owner, Indianapolis-based Pilgrim Communications Inc., with an option to purchase it. That purchase likely will be completed by late this year or early 2016, said Doug Moberg, director of development and community relations for CRN’s two stations in Colorado – KRCN and Pueblo-based KFEL-AM 970.

Moberg said CRN has launched a capital campaign to raise funds for the KRCN project, including $1.1 million to buy the station from Pilgrim and $750,000 to operate it for three years. Moberg said CRN’s purchase would not include the building housing the station’s former studios at 614 Kimbark St. in Longmont.

Meanwhile, the Loveland station changed call letters from KPIO to KKCL on July 1, and this week was sold by Loveland Radio Partners LLC for $80,000 to Kona Coast Radio LLC, according to documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission. According to the Colorado Secretary of State’s database, Kona Coast is owned and managed by Victor Michael of Loveland, whose history of radio ownership spans more than 25 years and includes stations in Colorado, Wyoming and Hawaii.

Michael could not be reached for comment about the sale, when the station would return to the air or what programming format it would carry.

Both stations have long histories in Northern Colorado.

Daryle Klassen, a former Loveland city councilman and Larimer County commissioner, operated what was then KLOV-AM from 1970 until 1984, with locally originated programming, and the station for a time simulcast on 102.5 FM, which is now KTRR and known as “Tri-102.” KLOV-AM’s call letters were changed to KHPN in 1998, then to KSXT in 2002. In August 2007 it adopted a sports-talk format under contract with Mile High Sports, but 13 months later was sold to the Catholic network and its call letters were changed to KPIO.

In 2011, the FCC fined KPIO’s owners $4,000 for “willfully and repeatedly” failing to dial back the power for its signal to 18 watts after sunset, which was required to protect a more powerful station in Mexico. CRN said the error was accidental, not willful, and blamed faulty equipment at its unattended transmitter and 385-foot tower near First Street and Taft Avenue in Loveland. CRN appealed, but the FCC rejected the appeal in an order dated June 10 of this year, and ordered the owners to pay a fine of $3,200. By then the station had been sold to Loveland Radio Partners.

Longmont’s KRCN was better known for many years as KLMO and, like KLOV in Loveland, aired programming that served its community of license. William G. “Bill” and Lila Stewart, 2014 inductees into the Boulder County Business Hall of Fame, purchased the failing 250-watt station in 1959 and transformed it into a powerhouse. They added KLMO-FM 104.3 (now sports-talk KKFN) in 1969. The station was sold to the Radio Colorado Network in 2000 and its call letters were changed to KRCN. Bill Stewart died in 2012. Lila Stewart, through her family foundation, continues to support community projects including the Tiny Tim Learning Center, the expansion of the Longmont Museum and athletic facilities at the University of Colorado Boulder.