More and more radio channels have been switching their formats to all Christmas, all the time -- a consistent winner for radio even during a brutal 2008-2009 revenue downturn, which ended last year when the U.S. radio industry took in $20.1 billion, up 8 percent from the previous year.I gotta admit, I like the change and usually switch to an all-Christmas station while I'm running around. I do get a little tire of hearing "Holly, Jolly, Christmas", and I wish these stations would use more of the sacred Christmas songs in their rotation (they're missing a lot of good music), but all in all it's enjoyable listening.
Arbitron says it's not unusual for ratings to double once a channel makes the temporary switch to Christmas music. KOST-FM in Los Angeles, for example, saw its share rise from 4.6 to 9.2 last year after it switched, and WLTW-FM in New York jumped from 6.0 to 12.3.
"There's no other programming tactic in radio history that consistently delivers ratings increases better than Christmas music," says Darren Davis, senior vp at Clear Channel, which is switching 100 of its 650 music stations to Christmas this year. And where there are ears, there are advertisers.
"If a station consistently does this year after year, it becomes an 'upfront' for advertisers looking to get holiday-minded customers in the final 30 days of Christmas," says Greg Strassell, senior vp programming at CBS Radio. While commercial count doesn't rise, ad rates increase, and sponsorship packages are created.
However, and it's funny how this works, if you go to a mall the day after Christmas while they're still playing the holiday songs, it just feels wrong.