TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: 'K' v. 'W' Television Station Callsigns

Re: 'K' v. 'W' Television Station Callsigns

Neal McLain (
Sun, 14 Nov 2004 16:16:29 -0600

Steve Crow <> wrote:

>>> Louisiana and Minnesota both "straddle" the Mississippi
>>> River.

>> In my experience (mostly in cable TV), the Mississippi-
>> River rule can be more accurately stated as follows:

>> "K" = west of the Mississippi River plus the entire
>> state of Minnesota.

>> "W" = east of the Mississippi River plus Louisiana
>> parishes located in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans
>> DMAs.

>> But even with this version of the rule there are
>> numerous exceptions, especially in the case of low-power
>> television stations (LPTV, Class A, translators, and
>> boosters).

> Do the same rules apply to radio stations as well? I
> would imagine so, but what about KYW in Pennsylvania?
> According to:


> ... the station has moved several times (Chicago,
> Cleveland), but appears to have maintained the same call
> sign even in moves across state lines. Is this common?

Since the second-level (">>") quotes above seem to be taken from my
post in TD 23:505, I'll attempt to provide an answer.

What I called "the Mississippi-River rule" was intended to apply only
to television stations. I didn't intend it to apply to radio.

Furthermore, my "rule" is not the official FCC rule; it's just an
attempt on my part to define the line in such a way that it minimizes
the number of exceptions. It certainly doesn't eliminate all
exceptions: as Robert Bonomi pointed out in TD 23:510, my rule creates
several (four, by my count) exceptions in Duluth, Grand Marais, and
Hibbing, Minnesota. But it eliminates far more exceptions than it
creates. Furthermore, it eliminates ambiguity in DMAs (or smaller
non-DMA markets) that straddle the river, but don't straddle a state
line: Baton Rouge, Bemidji, Minneapolis, New Orleans, St. Cloud.

With regard to radio: as Mark Roberts <> pointed
out in TD 23:506, a good source of information about the K/W rule, as
it applies to AM broadcast stations (including KYW), is Thomas
H. White's "United States Callsign Policies."

A comprehensive state-by-state list of all broadcast stations is
available at .
From this site, you can drill down to a list of stations in each
individual city. Unfortunately, this list is often out-of-date. To
verify the specifics related to any particular station, click on the
"F" button in each station's listing; this will link you to the FCC's
database for that particular station.

Neal McLain

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