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Big AM Project at KKXA Progresses

Will it be the last new station in the Puget Sound basin?

It’s something of a celebratory event when a big new AM goes on the air. KKXA isn’t quite there yet but will be soon.

Two new towers have been erected; the station disseminated these photos today. The Puget Sound-area station will blast 50 kW at night and start at 20 kW during the day. It is hoping for approval to move to 50 kW full-time.

Brian Gruhn of NorthStar Broadcast Contractors reaches for the new KKXA tower while Kim Johnson and Harvey Stacey wait to bolt the flanges. The debut air date tentatively at the end of July and the format is up in the air, pending a rough survey of prospective area listeners (country and all-news are leading so far).

KKXA will be the sister station of sports talker KRKO(AM). Both stations are owned by members of the Skotdal family.

The KKXA-AM 1520 and KRKO-AM 1380 shared antenna system.

Brian Gruhn, Kim Johnson, and Harvey Stacey of NorthStar Broadcast Contractors finalize connections on the new KKXA tower. The Snohomish area site where the KKXA (1520) antennas are situated is also home to the towers of KRKO (1380). Those sticks received unwanted publicity when they were vandalized last year and required rebuilding. Add to that the difficulty in getting the required permits and approvals and it is possible that KKXA will be the last new commercial signal in the area.

There are six towers total at the site; four serve KRKO in a parallelogram; four serve KKXA as an in-line array. The tall tower is KRKO-only and not shared. Two of the six towers are shared. Both stations are omni daytime.

Reflecting on the challenges in bringing KKXA to air (not to mention the KRKO imbroglio), KRKO GM Andy Skotdal told Radio World: “The infrastructure necessary for AM radio and AM’s conductivity siting needs allow opposition groups to mount baseless smear campaigns that drag projects into the dungeons of government review for no good reason.

“Because of this fact, among others, I hope the FCC gives serious consideration to migrating the AM band into the analog TV Channel 5 and 6 spectrum. Existing TV users can still be protected, and there is enough spectrum to add new LPFMs as well as provide Class C service for the overwhelming majority of migrated AMs.”

Skotdal added that the KKXA name “is a nod to one of Western Washington’s first radio stations, KXA 770, a station now broadcasting as KTTH 770, ‘The Truth.’”

— Brett Moss