Radio station finds success with early switch to Christmas music
For a dozen years, radio station KRVE-96.1 The River has featured Christmas tunes ramping up to the holidays. But this year the station kicked off its annual 24-hour festive format a full 45 days before Dec. 25. While some listeners on The River's Facebook page say "Bah humbug" to the switch so far in advance of Thanksgiving, the station's operators say ratings soar during this yearly format change. "The email requests that we now start receiving as early as the first week of October have shown that listeners rely on us to deliver the Christmas music every year," says Sam North, program director and on-air personality at The River, a Clear Channel station. "As for ratings, in most cases they've ranged from a 50% increase to double our average ratings." This successful strategy is being replicated in other Clear Channel markets, with one of Clear Channel's executives saying in Billboard, "There's no other programming tactic in radio history that consistently delivers ratings increases better than Christmas music." Also, music setting the mood for Christmas—and shopping—supports the advertisers on The River, which touts its reach to women ages 25 to 54. "The feedback we receive from retailers who advertise during the season is overwhelmingly positive. We play the Christmas music … then the retailers have customers who are in the mood for Christmas shopping," says North. "Christmas music is about feeling, family, happiness and the reason for the season. Listeners are always best at dictating to us when they're ready for it.” —Tress Fereday
Today's poll question: At least one local radio station has begun its all-day Christmas music programming, the Salvation Army is already out ringing bells and holiday decorations are popping up everywhere. How do you respond?
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Comments from Stephen Moret
A winning pitch