HolyCoast: All-Christmas Music Radio Format a Ratings Winner

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

All-Christmas Music Radio Format a Ratings Winner

For years KOST radio in Los Angeles has gone to an all-Christmas music rotation on the day after Thanksgiving.  I noticed this year the smooth jazz station, KWVE, has also gone to all-Christmas music.  Apparently, the quickest path to ratings success this time of year is dumping your normal format and programming the holiday tunes:
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.

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.
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.

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.


Laura said...

I know I started listening to the Wave for the first time ever this month!

The funny thing is, on the liturgical church calendar the Christmas season actually starts on Christmas (that's when the "12 days of Christmas" begin!). I feel kinda sad when I see people taking down decorations and putting away music on the 26th -- since I began attending a liturgical church years ago I now play Christmas music through the first week of January, when the season closes with Epiphany, which commemorates the visit of the wise men in Bethlehem. I have really come to like a more gradual wind-down from Christmas instead of feeling like the holiday comes to a dead halt at midnight on Christmas Day. :)

Best wishes,

Kat said...

I don't mind listening to Christmas music up until New Year's. Not interested in it full time, mind, but mixed in with other songs is fine. Sort of lets you wind down instead of going cold turkey. :-) And yes, I always switch over to the stations that are all Christmas music! lol Now if only some station other than the easy listening station would do it around here. I am SO SICK of "So this is Christmas", "Last Christmas, I gave you my heart", Chipmunks anything(!), and really miss things like "Mary did you know", "Go Tellin' on the Mountain," etc.

Nightingale said...

Right on target Laura. I also go to a liturgical church, and right now we're in Advent, which is a rather solemn time of preparation for Christmas.

A lot of modern churches have forgotten their history.