Hottest new format: Christmas music!

As America & the world succumb to the realities of the pandemic, providing solace, comfort & companionship to self-isolated listeners has inspired a few broadcasters to program “comfort music” – the familiarity of Christmas tunes!  Today’s InsideRadio  notes the first station to implement such a format change is AC 102.5 KEZK-FM St Louis who will flip today at 5 pm to ‘Christmas In March’  “in order to lift spirits as the coronavirus quarantine continues,” the station writes in a web post.  “KEZK, St. Louis’ number one Christmas station, is bringing all of the Christmas classics and encouraging everyone to put their lights back up so that families can drive around and enjoy them together while still practicing social distancing,” the web post continues.  Meanwhile, some Americans are putting their Christmas lights back up & urging others to do so to bring a little light into the darkness we’re all experiencing currently. 

The St. Louis station is not alone.  In the Visalia-Tulare-Hanford, CA market, AC 1270 AM &  97.5 FM “My 97.5” KVMI will also switch to Christmas music as of this weekend & in addition, is conducting a Christmas lights contest.  “This weekend, we’re taking our lives back and showing the South Valley, and the world, we still have hope by giving you Christmas music on the new “My 97.5”  the station notes on social media.  Some consultant & ‘programming gurus’ are of the opinion that more stations will follow with this format switch in an effort to console listeners & perhaps also get the edge on some ratings & advertiser support.  A number of stations that normally switch to all-Christmas music in fall are expected to make the format switch in a number of communities. Here in our market, does this mean we will soon have Christmas melodies airing on “Warm 106.9” KRWM or  94.1 “The Sound” KSWD? These are not normal times & radio has a chance to not only keep us all informed about COVID-19 but also an opportunity to win back some listeners who have strayed away from radio.  By providing a music format that will support listeners with comfort during difficult times, radio once again has a chance to prove it’s not a dying medium & worth listening to.

Author: Mike Cherry

retired broadcaster: on-air, MD, PD, asst PD, Prod Mgr, IT, station technician/engineer, pioneer Internet webcaster, station installation/maintenance; 12 years in commercial radio, 17 years volunteer in campus/community radio in B.C., Alberta & Wash. Amateur radio operator & "DXer" specializing in AM night-time DX, short-wave DX/listening & remote SDR DXing/listening

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