On The Dial: The Early Onset of Holiday Radio

It hurts me to write this, but “because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Holiday music is now on regular rotation everywhere you go. 

It doesn’t help that several retailers decided to start “Black Friday” early in November. 

Why now? Let’s see…this pandemic has put a damper on Holiday travel. So, going “over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house” has been put on pause this year. Some localized restrictions made it difficult for gatherings of certain numbers to occur, even among relatives. Plus, you have to wear a mask, and make sure you’re healthy enough to travel. Let’s not forget, you must have the proper forms and tests done if you’re traveling internationally.

To offset the hassle of traveling home for the Holidays during this pandemic, broadcasters are following the idea that the Holidays should start now. 

And, they have. 

SiriusXM have already turned on 17 channels of Holiday music. There is practically something for almost everybody. You have contemporary Holiday hits, Soul and R&B, Country, Jazz, Rock, Gospel, downtempo EDM, traditional Holiday music, a Hanukkah channel, and a New Year’s channel. Oh, and there’s a channel with Manheim Steamroller music. Let’s just add a channel branded by Hallmark for good measure. 

Not to be outdone, iHeartRadio is offering 13 different radio stations with various Holiday music formats, including ten virtual ones through their app. One of their stations is called North Pole Radio, hosted by Santa Claus himself. Or, is that Santa Claus? Hey, Meghan Trainor has a Holiday radio station she hosts, too! 

Entercom’s Radio.com will also offer five of their own dedicated virtual Holiday stations through their app. Plus, several Entercom stations have switched to an all-Holiday format in their respective markets. In Boston, Magic 106.7 began their Holiday programming via their second HD Radio channel. Star 102.5 in Buffalo, New York already made the switch to Holiday musical programming. 

Seattle’s 94.1 The Sound already have national air personality Delilah promoting the switch of their format to Holiday…Christmas music. 

In Duluth, Minnesota, one radio station made the switch to programming Holiday music all year round about five years ago. However, WEBC on both the AM and FM dial have switched back to a sports format. Maybe that did not work well for Townsquare Media in the Duluth-Superior market. 

Here in the Twin Cities, iHeartRadio’s KOOL 108 does the annual switch to Holiday programming every year. It seems like a tradition. But, they keep on doing the switch earlier every year. Maybe they’ll get a pass this year considering all of the circumstances of this year. 

Not to be an Ebenezer Scrooge here, but I never thought we would have these radio stations programmed so early. Then again, never had we imagined that Black Friday sales would start this early in the year. 

If you want to get into the Holiday spirit, tune in now. The big radio programmers have you covered all the way until New Year’s Day! 

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