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Hennen announces he'll leave WDAY for ownership of new radio station

Scott Hennen, general manager of WDAY-AM 970 radio and host of "Hot Talk with Scott Hennen," announced Thursday morning he was leaving the station Friday to pursue ownership of another radio frequency based in Dilworth.

"The last seven years have been extraordinary," Hennen said while making the announcement. "I have loved every minute of it."

Hennen said he was sad about leaving WDAY, his home since 2001, but saw the new venture as a great opportunity and a shot at ownership.

He plans to take his show to a statewide North Dakota audience on the new frequency, WZFN-AM 1100. He hopes to start up the new station late this summer.

Hennen signed a purchase agreement to buy the Dilworth station for $720,000. WZFN's 50,000-watt signal would be one of the strongest in the region. The market's top two news and talk stations, WDAY and KFGO-AM 790, both have 5,000-watt day-time signals. When Radio Fargo-Moorhead moved its sports programming to the 50,000-watt 740 AM last year, it was said to cover more than 100,000 square miles.

Greg Mixon, vice president and chief administrative officer of the Dilworth station's seller, Birmingham, Ala.,-based Brantley Broadcast Associates, said Hennen believed he'd still be able to stay on at WDAY and be an active part of the WZFN ownership teams.

Brantley built the station, which was first licensed in March 2006 but hasn't yet broadcast programming full time, with the thought that "we'd probably sell it at some point," Mixon said.

WDAY General Manager Mark Prather has said Hennen's purchase of the Dilworth station is not linked in any way to WDAY radio.

The application to transfer the federal license to Hennen's company - SMAHH Communications LLC - was filed with the Federal Communications Commission on Dec. 20. The letters that spell out the company's name correspond with the first names of Hennen, his wife and his three children.

Hennen is a conservative talk-show host who has been named one of the top 100 hosts in the nation several times by "Talkers" magazine and has guest-hosted Sean Hannity's nationally syndicated show.

During his show Thursday, Hennen said he was leaving with mixed emotions.

"With that new chapter and new beginning comes the end of another chapter," Hennen said. "It's not easy to leave."