Montana’s oldest radio station has been given new life, after nearly a decade of questions surrounding its ability to remain alive.
The new licensee is led by Wayne Ferree, and his new radio broadcasting company will see this Class B serve as the cornerstone of his operation.
Heading to Ferree via a pro forma assignment filed with the FCC on July 16 is KEIN-AM 1310 in Great Falls, Mont.
It will be run by Ferree’s Tiger Butte Broadcasting LLC, and is being obtained from court-appointed receiver Steve J. Fitzpatrick, an attorney at Great Falls-based firm Browning, Kaleczyc, Berry & Hoven P.C.
Few details are known regarding the transfer of control, and what Ferree may be paying for the station.
Serving as counsel for the receiver is the law office of Dennis J. Kelly, in Washington, D.C.
Fitzpatrick ended up with oversight of KEIN after its owner, Munson Radio, experienced a string of difficulties associated with the facility.
In January 2011, The E.W. Scripps Co.-owned KRTV-3 in Great Falls, Mont., reported that KEIN, then airing Adult Standards programming using the “Music of Your Life” network, was taken off the air after a thief “broke into its transmitter facility, switched off some breakers, and killed the signal.”
It was also reported at the time that KEIN President Steve Dow was thwarted in his attempts to get the station’s signal back in operation as he was under court order to stay away from the transmitter building, located on property owned by Creed Evans. It appears Dow was locked out because of an October 2010 court judgement that gave him 30 days to vacate the premises.
Evans filed suit against Dow for failing to maintain insurance and make repairs on the facilities.
In December 2012, issues at KEIN were noted by the Media Bureau. It issued a Notice of Violation to Munson after an August 10, 2012 visit to the station by an Enforcement Bureau agent who observed the station was unattended, with its doors locked.
That matter was minor to the ongoing feud between Evans and Dow.
In May 2013, the first in what would become a string of STA requests was filed with the Commission, noting that the KEIN tower lease site “has been terminated prior to expiration.” Operations were formally suspended; by June 2015 a new tower site hadn’t been found as Dow noted Munson’s tower site litigation expenses have increased, and trial was pending.
As 2018 began, Munson’s battle in court was proving unsuccessful. Control of KEIN was about to end, with discussion of an involuntary transfer of control to the court-appointed receiver made to resolve a lawsuit filed by Evans against Munson and Dow. In November, the process was completed, with KEIN going to Fitzpatrick.
Interestingly, Munson never planned on operating or owning KEIN from 2008 onward. That’s because an asset purchase agreement had been signed in June 2008 that had Munson selling KEIN-AM to Community Communications for $200,000. The intended buyer, led by Dawn Pavlonnis, never closed on its purchase of the station.
KEIN’s history includes a run as a Top 40 station, following its October 1972 call letter change from KGGF and shift from Middle of the Road music resulting from its sale by Bill Holter. As of February 1973, Jim Bunn was PD; in 1974 Lorrin Palagi would take an on-air role, beginning a career that would wind him to WRQX-FM in Washington, D.C., in 1990, where he’d oversee the change from Q107 to “Mix 107.3.”