New country—isn’t that what pushed Kenny Rogers into retirement?
Riverfront Broadcasting, the owner of KORN, had to sue to secure its brand this spring. Main Street Broadcasting of Owatonna, south of the Twin Cities, was branding its officially designated KKOR-FM as KORN Country 92.1. KKOR’s broadcast signal didn’t come much farther west than New Ulm and Blue Earth and thus would not have interfered with Riverfront’s new beam from Mitchell. But as we know from our discussion of the Small-Brennan Badlands Radio litigation, AM/FM radio is history. Streaming is where it’s at, and KORN of Mitchell can’t have KKOR confusing its online listeners and app downloaders.
Riverfront’s case for ownership of the brand was rock-solid. Their May 28 complaint cited the pedigree of the brand in South Dakota back to 1950. Riverfront noted that in the 1970s, Hee Haw asked permission to use “KORN” just for its comedy sketches:
The designations “KORN” and “KORN Radio” have further become uniquely identified with this particular radio station for decades. For example, in the 1970’s, the popular television show “Hee-Haw” introduced a segment called “KORN Radio,” a spoof of Midwestern radio content. KORN Radio 1490 in Mitchell was so well known that the producers of “Hee-Haw” contacted Riverfront’s predecessors to obtain permission to use that call sign and designation during these episodes of “Hee-Haw.” The producers of the “Hee-Haw” program also flew the then-general manager of KORN Radio 1490 to the set of the show to appear on an episode of the program [Complaint, Riverfront Broadcasting v. Main Street Broadcasting and Lynn Kettelson, 5:15-cv-04042U.S. District Court of Northern Iowa, Western Division, 2015.05.28].
Main Street Broadcasting decided not to horse around fighting Riverfront’s allegations of false designation, dilution, cybersquatting and unfair competition. The court documents show no rebuttal from Main Street, just settlement and voluntary dismissal by August. I don’t see settlement details online, but Main Street Broadcasting appears to have surrendered the domain name korn92.com on December 1, and that URL now redirects to Riverfront’s korncountry921.com.
Payday loan shark and pawn-shop radio station owner Chuck Brennan mentions the possibility of a new station broadcasting from Mitchell at 92.1 FM as causing him some concern in his effort to acquire Sunny Radio’s 92.1 FM transmitter in Sioux Falls. At 500 watts, Sunny Radio’s service contour don’t reach much beyond Sioux Falls city limits; KORN Country 92.1’s 100,000 watts of new country power may drown out that Sunny signal west of Sioux Falls, assuming Sunny’s signal has the oomph to surmount the bluffs of Skunk Creek. Brennan’s KBAD, at 2,000 watts, reaches from Hartford to Luverne and is safely removed from the new KORN signal.