Broadcast area
Frequency1540 kHz
BrandingKXEL News/Talk 1540
First air date
July 14, 1942; 81 years ago (1942-07-14)
Call sign meaning
Technical information[1]
Licensing authority
Facility ID35950
Power50,000 watts
Translator(s)100.5 K263BZ (Waterloo)
Public license information
WebcastListen live

KXEL (1540 AM), branded as News/Talk 1540, is a Class A, clear-channel radio station serving the Waterloo and Cedar Rapids metropolitan areas with a All-news radio/Talk radio format.

KXEL is one of two FCC Class 1-A stations in Iowa, the other being WHO in Des Moines. It operates at 50,000 watts, 24 hours a day from a two-tower facility near Dysart, IA on the Benton/Tama County line. A single tower is used during the day for a non-directional signal. It provides secondary coverage to most of eastern Iowa during the day (as far west as Des Moines, as far south as Ottumwa and as far east as Dubuque and as far north as Mason City). At night, power is fed to both towers in a directional pattern to protect ZNS-1, Nassau, Bahamas. Due to the cardioid-shaped pattern aimed north, KXEL's skywave signal can be heard throughout the northern plains states and central Canadian provinces.


KXEL was first created by Don E. Kassner, who worked for Joe Dumond. The station began broadcasting on July 14, 1942, and was the first radio facility in the United States to be granted 50,000 watts of power with its original license. It began airing ABC Radio programming from pop hits of the 1940s under the "Stardust" satellite format before switching to a middle-of-the-road (MOR) format under the name "Timeless" until the network's demise in 2010. KXEL also featured country music programming before switching to its current news/talk format. Dumond later sold KXEL to career broadcaster Egmont Sonderling, then on November 9, 1958, Sonderling signed the papers transferring KXEL's license to Cy N. Bahakel. Woodward Broadcasting owned the station between 2011 and December 2014 before selling it, and its sister stations, to current owner, Cedar Rapids-based NRG Media LLC.


On November 16, 1947, KXEL-FM began broadcasting in Waterloo on 105.7 MHz. It was licensed to Josh Higgins Broadcasting Company, which also held the license for KXEL.[2]

Television station attempt

In the early 1950s, KXEL filed for the channel 7 television license in Waterloo. However, Waterloo's other powerhouse radio station, KWWL (now KPTY, a sister station to KXEL) wanted the license as well. KXEL and KWWL went to court and battled it out. KXEL was so sure it would win the suit that it built a new studio large enough to accommodate a television station. This studio was mainly useless because KWWL won the lawsuit and signed on KWWL-TV on November 29, 1953.[3]


  1. ^ "Facility Technical Data for KXEL". Licensing and Management System. Federal Communications Commission.
  2. ^ "KXEL-FM Starts" (PDF). Broadcasting. November 24, 1947. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
  3. ^ “The Battle for Channel 7: A Media Showdown in Waterloo” by David F. McCartney and Grant Price; retrieved October 11, 2023.

42°10′48″N 92°18′38″W / 42.18000°N 92.31056°W / 42.18000; -92.31056