Indianapolis oldie station Gold 104.5 FM has done something new to the area. On November 12th, Friday at 3 p.m. the started playing "All Christmas, All Season Long" 24-hour Christmas music. This included their CPR (Car Phone Request) show from 5 to 6 p.m. My question, is this a bold move, a bad mistake, or the way the industry is headed? - James
Radio Guide answers:
Actually, more and more commercial radio stations over the past few years have been opting to play "All-Christmas" music for the weeks leading up to Christmas. Each year, it starts earlier. This year, one station is reported to have begun as early as November 1 - not even waiting for at least Thanksgiving but, rather, jumping in right after Halloween!
Usually, only one station in a market can truly be successful at it because holiday programming like this still aims at a narrow audience: those truly in the Christmas spirit - and early.
Listeners "catch" the holiday spirit in different ways and at different times. If anything, it's a slow build which culimnates Christmas week. Then, as soon as the presents are opened, nobody could care less about the station playing Christmas music.
Also, it won't work for every type of format. A modern rocker will fail miserably because there just isn't enough rock-oriented Christmas music to allow a rock station to maintain it's identity while executing this type of presentation.
But, an adult-contemporary station, like a "Mix" or "Kiss" formatted one (in this case an "Oldies station), can have much success because the target audience is already attuned to a softer, less rap-rock cluttered sound.
The trend started at Christian-formatted stations some years ago. It was soon discovered that going "All Christmas" for a few weeks during the Fall rating period actually gave radio stations a point or two bump. Commercial stations began to take note and now many markets have a "Christmas Station"