Joel Heitkamp's "Expansion" Plans Over Before They Started


Earlier this week liberal talk radio host Joel Heitkamp attempted to preempt news that he was being yanked off his western North Dakota affiliates with news of his own. Specifically that he was “expanding” his show to a second radio station broadcasting in the Fargo region.

Unfortunately, that idea didn’t last long. As I posted yesterday, Heitkamp’s attempt to move on on AM740 (which currently carries sports programming as part of the KFAN network) was not only met with anger from fans of the station but also put Heitkamp’s employers in a bad spot, potentially costing them the KFAN network and the lucrative broadcast rights to Vikings games.

The Fargo Forum reports today:

The Allen show, which is based in the Twin Cities on KFAN Sports Radio, runs from 9 a.m.-noon. Chad Abbott, the program director for KFAN Sports Radio, said the contract with RFM “reads that they have to carry the show.”

It wasn’t immediately clear if 740-AM The Fan could be in danger of losing the right to air Minnesota Vikings games if the simulcast policy becomes reality. Allen is the play-by-play voice of the Vikings. But Abbott did say, “Generally, affiliation with The Fan radio network brings Vikings radio affiliation.”

“The Fan will get (Allen) tomorrow, and it’s looking more and more like they’ll be getting him for a long time,” Heitkamp said.

I doubt very much that Midwest Communications, and owner Duke Wright, were fans of Heitkamp’s move. Remember that Radio Fargo Moorhead – Heitkamp’s current employer – is trying to sell KFGO and AM740 to Wright and Midwest Communications. Heitkamp losing his western affiliates, and no doubt millions of dollars in ad revenues along with them, probably put that deal in enough jeopardy without throwing away AM740’s audience of sports fans too.

You really have to marvel at just how much self-inflicted harm Heitkamp has done to his career in just a few days.

Meanwhile, in somewhat related news, rumors in radio circles in the state (in which there are always a lot of rumors, so take this with a grain of salt) have it that Ed Schultz may be angling to get back in the mix in Fargo radio. After suffering a demotion of his own at MSNBC, banished to weekend cable television programming, Schultz has free time on his hands. If he came back to KFGO it would mean a re-arrangement of the pecking order.

Schultz would be back on top, Heitkamp would be back to serving as Schultz’s towel boy and afternoon host Mike McFeely would, it seems, be the third wheel on the bicycle.

Of course, Schultz himself may have bollixed that move by casting school-age flood fight volunteers in Fargo as “slaves” in a recent rant on his nationally-syndicated radio show (which, apparently, still exists).