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Reviewing the Super Bowl Commercials

Monday, Feb, 3 2014

For several years now, my brothers (minus one) have gotten together for a party on Super Bowl Sunday.  It’s always a great time with some amazing food.  We all bring a couple of items to enjoy as we watch the game.

Unless the Green Bay Packers are playing, I typically could care less who wins.  Such was the case this year.  That’s why I look forward to the commercials.  My thinking is, if a company is willing to spend around $4 million for a 30-second spot (we what radio types call a commercial), they better get a lot of bang for their bucks.

For the most part, I thought advertisers played it safe this year.  I don’t recall any crude jokes or a lot of sexual innuendo.  The “Full House” reunion ad for Danon Oikos had some, but, admittedly, I found it funny.

My favorite ad of the night was from RadioShack.  “The 80s called, they want their store back.  It’s time for a new RadioShack.”  That was gutsy, and I thought very effective.

I thought the Bob Dylan ad for Chrysler was a home run.  Not as good as the Clint Eastwood ad of two years ago, but very well done.

In no specific order, I liked these ads as well:
Doritos “Time Machine”
Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander and Wayne Knight
Heinz ketchup at the family gathering
The Budweiser ads “Salute a Hero” and “Best Buds”
T-Mobile’s contract “break-up”
Diet Mountain Dew “Dale Call”

posted by: Dennis Lowe 6 month(s) ago Comment On This Post

Trouble Hearing KXEL?

Friday, Jan, 24 2014

If you’ve been having difficulty picking up the KXEL signal since 7:30 or so Monday morning, it’s not your radio, it’s us.

A capacitor in a phaser cabinet in KXEL’s main transmitter has gone bad which causes arcing.  That arcing inside the transmitter cabinet progressively burned up the capacitor.

The arcing occurred while we were in our daytime pattern, so we are running our nighttime pattern to avoid the arcing and at reduced power to obey FCC regulations.  We’re waiting on a replacement part as I write this.

KXEL is a directional AM station, meaning our signal has day and night patterns.  The day pattern is more circular around the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area.  The night pattern is more north, east and west and reaches 24 states and 4 provinces in Canada.  Because we are operating on the night pattern, KXEL listeners in Iowa City, Washington, Grinnell, Newton and Des Moines are having difficulty hearing us.

Equipment breakdowns are never convenient.  It annoys listeners and primes the pump of conspiracy theorists who want to blame President Barack Obama or the NSA.  Really?  Think it through.

Enough negativity!  Some great things have occurred since Woodward Communications purchased KXEL, KWLO, KOKZ and KFMW in 2012.

We have back-up generators at our studios in downtown Waterloo and at our transmitter site.  We’ve added a back-up transmitter too.  Something KXEL hasn’t had in decades.

We’ve also added new processing and surge suppression to protect both the transmitters and the building equipment from lightning and surges in the electrical grid.  

It’s not an easy job keeping all the equipment it takes to operate four radio station up and running.  Kudos to our chief engineer Mark Schumacher for all he does to keep us on the air.  It’s often a thankless job.  Thanks, Mark, for keeping the transmitter and all our equipment humming!

posted by: Dennis Lowe 6 month(s) ago Comment On This Post

Congratulations, Gary Rima!

Monday, Jan, 13 2014

On January 9th, the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association and Hall of Fame announced its national and state award winners.

In Iowa, UNI radio play-by-play announcer Gary Rima, host of KXEL’s On Press Row with the Sports Guy, won his second Sportscaster of the Year Award.  Gary will receive his award during the 55th Annual NSSA Awards Weekend, June 7-9 in Salisbury, NC.  Long-time network play-by-play announcer Marv Albert and ESPN’s Rick Reilly, a long-time columnist with Sports Illustrated, have been elected to the NSSA Hall of Fame.

I’ve known Gary since our days together at KOEL in the mid-1980s.  His passion for UNI athletics is contagious.  He’s had a tremendous impact on growing the Panther fan base.  You can’t go to the UNI-Dome or McLeod Center and not see signs of his signature catch phrases – “Oh Baby”…”Ka-Boom” and “Ka-Bullseye.”

I’m proud to call you friend.  Proud of the work you do for Learfield Sports and Panthers Sports Properties.  Even prouder to have you share your talents with us weekdays at 5 p.m. on News/Talk 1540 KXEL!

If you haven’t already, congratulate Gary on a job well done!  He can be reached via email at

posted by: Dennis Lowe 7 month(s) ago Comment On This Post

Happy New Year!

Friday, Jan, 3 2014

Happy New Year!

I have no idea what 2014 has in store for me personally or professionally, but I am excited about the prospects.

From a programming standpoint, we’ve made one change.  As of January 1st, The Jim Bohannon Show replaces The Savage Nation in the 9 p.m. to midnight slot.  In short, Michael Savage moved his show to the 2 to 5 p.m. time slot.  KXEL has aired Sean Hannity at that time since 2001.  Hannity has a larger audience and attracts more advertisers than Savage, so it was an easy decision for us to stick with Hannity.  We could have left Savage on at 9 p.m., but I don’t like tape-delaying programs.  Especially one that would be 7 hours old by the time it aired.  That’s pretty reckless in a time of 24-hour news cycles.  Things happen too fast and news breaks at all hours.

Another big change is coming March 1st.  More on that later.

I wish all of you a safe, healthy and happy 2014!

posted by: Dennis Lowe 7 month(s) ago Comment On This Post

Feeling Nostalgic At Christmas

Wednesday, Dec, 25 2013

I’m not much of a dreamer.  Let me clarify that.  I dream of winning the lottery and disappearing into the Wisconsin Northwoods.  When I say I not much of a dreamer, I mean that I rarely dream when I sleep.

That wasn’t the case Christmas Eve.  I’ve been feeling very nostalgic this Christmas.  I've been thinking of friends and relatives spending their first Christmas without a loved one.  My parents spend the winters in Florida, so my family celebrates our family Christmas when we gather for Thanksgiving.  So Christmas reminds me of the way it used to be, when I was a child.

Back to the last night’s dream.  It was set in my childhood.  Pre-1970 I assume.  We were celebrating Christmas at the home of my maternal grandparents.  I say pre-1970 because my grandmother was there and she died in January of that year.  I was playing in the basement with my cousins.  My California cousins were there too, which rarely happened as my uncle was in the Army and stationed overseas.  Later in the dream, I was older and we were at my paternal great-grandparents home.  I was a bit older, but all my paternal relatives were there.  My great grandfather was teasing everyone (probably where I get that from), but I don’t remember much else.  Yet, I swear I could smell my great grandma's cooking.  Her house always smelled like fresh-baked something!  Those Christmases are the best I’ve experienced and remember with great fondness.

I’ve always felt I was lucky to be born into the family I have.  Time and miles can’t come between my relatives and I.  I know that isn’t the case for a lot of families.

Even though I won’t be with my family this Christmas Day, they’re with me.  Always will be.

I hope you have a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!

posted by: Dennis Lowe 7 month(s) ago Comment On This Post

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