Last updated on 2013.12.01
After a 2010 ice storm knocked their 700-foot KPLO broadcast tower off Medicine Butte and left Doug Wiken without The Big News at Ten, KELO put up a temporary tower. The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe protested, saying that after 53 years of occupation, KELO should remove its tower from what they consider a holy site. Anyone who has driven Highway 34 and 47 can get why Medicine Butte would be considered a sacred site: it's the one tall thing you see out there above the river and vast plains.
KELO didn't have to move their tower. Their parent company, New-York based Young broadcasting, owns the land, and Medicine Butte is outside the official boundaries of the reservation. But KELO decided, why fight? They picked a new tower site six miles to the southwest, down in the flat. They made up the altitude by building a thousand-foot tower. KELO says with higher power, the new tower will beam a stronger signal than the old Medicine Butte tower. They'll start taking apart the old tower December 1.
So there you go, Douglas! You'll be getting Angela Kennecke louder and clearer... thanks in part to a decent gesture from KELO toward our red brethren.
Update 2013.12.01: Two towers remain on Medicine Butte. AT&T Wireless has a tower that the FCC is currently reviewing at the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe's request. South Dakota Public Broadcasting has the other tower; SDPB exec Julie Andersen says her organization has a good relationship with the Lower Brule Sioux and that moving the SDPB tower would be too expensive.