Starting today (March 14), the broadcast power of Visalia's KJUG (FM 106.7) increases tenfold, producing a signal that will cover Fresno, Hanford, Lemoore and Wasco. A new 75-foot-tall tower in Yokohl Valley will broadcast at 27,100 watts, enough to more than double the current broadcast range of the country music radio station. The construction, which started in November, cost approximately $500,000.
Momentum Broadcasting, a group of local investors that includes Donald Groppetti, president of the Visalia-based Groppetti Auto Group, purchased KJUG (AM 1270 and FM 106.7) and KCRZ (FM 104.9) from Westcoast Broadcasting Inc. for $1.8 million in 2011. The signal increase doesn't affect the other two radio stations.
"We got lucky. We were looking to go to 50,000 watts, but we found a location that gives us the same coverage area but at half the watts," says Groppetti.
The plan was to increase the broadcast strength for just Tulare and Kings counties, but the tower location allows for a much larger broadcast range.
The first thing the group did after buying the station was create a business plan that would make the stations more profitable. Building the new tower is the first step because there were potential listeners in Hanford, Lemoore and even parts of Visalia who could not hear the signal before the upgrade.
There are no plans to change the formats (KJUG broadcasts a country music format, while KCRZ plays a Hot Adult Contemporary format).
The investment group was interested in the stations because of their strong ratings in the Visalia market. Before the change, KJUG FM had attracted enough listeners in the Fresno market to show up in the radio ratings. Those numbers should go up with the stronger signal.
KMJ (AM 580) talk show host Inga Barks, whose show originates from Bakersfield, returned to the local talk/news radio station's lineup Monday, March 11, after being off the air for more than a week following her arrest on charges of public intoxication and delaying or obstructing a peace officer.
Barks told listeners that she was "glad to be back in the saddle" and that the time off was the longest she had been off the radio.
On advice of her attorney, Barks didn't go into details about what happened, except to say she remembers buying a ticket to see a movie and the next thing she recalls is being on the ground. She said "something happened" and that she was in conversations with her doctor to find out what.
Barks has the 6-9 p.m. weekday slot on KMJ.
Chowchilla native Ron Moore has a new TV series. The Syfy cable channel has ordered 13 episodes of "Helix" to begin airing later this year.
The cable series will be about a team of scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who travel to a research facility in the Arctic to investigate a possible disease outbreak. What they find is a life-and-death struggle that holds the key to mankind's salvation or total annihilation.
Moore is an executive producer on the show. He brings a wealth of science fiction and fantasy knowledge to the series, having written for "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and having been the producer of "Roswell," the updated "Battlestar Galactica" and "Caprica." He also co-wrote the screenplay for the 1996 film "Star Trek: Generations."
In case you missed it, the end has come for Buchanan High School graduate Lauren Scott on the ABC reality competition show "The Taste." Scott didn't get named to be one of the final four competitors of the cooking competition series.
The theme of her last challenge, "Seduction," required the amateur chefs to create a dish from pre-selected seductive ingredients. Ingrid Hoffman, restaurateur and TV personality, was the guest judge for the night. Scott, a home chef who now lives in Laurel, Miss., failed to impress the panel enough with her spicy octopus stew during the blind taste test to keep her in the game.
The show features four celebrity mentors -- Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre and Brian Malarkey -- who each selected four chefs to be on their teams during the initial auditions. Scott was selected to be part of Lawson's group and was the last member of her original four left standing.
The first sign of how Nexstar Broadcasting, the Texas-based company that's purchased both KSEE (Channel 24.1) and KGPE (Channel 47.1), will blend the two local TV stations is the decision to make KSEE President and General Manager Matthew A. Rosenfeld the boss of KGPE.
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559)441-6355, firstname.lastname@example.org
or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.