During the past few years, DFW radio stations have typically waited at least till the week before Thanksgiving before going to all-Christmas formats.
Not anymore. Holiday music is a ratings generator — stations playing it 24/7 usually top the Nielsen Audio ratings, sometimes for a couple of months — and by afternoon rush hour on Friday, the two biggest holiday players will be doing it.
Actually, one already is: KDGE/102.1 FM “Star 102.1” began playing Christmas music at 6 a.m. Friday, starting with LeAnn Rimes’ version of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”
Star 102.1, an adult-contemporay station that replaced long-running modern-rock station “The Edge” last year, launched Nov. 17, 2016, with a Christmas format. And it quickly became a major player in the Christmas-music battle.
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Classic-hits station KLUV/98.7 FM, which has been doing the Christmas flip for the past several years, responded quickly last year and will again this year: It went all-Christmas at 5 p.m. Friday.
According to a release from Nielsen Music, DFW had five radio stations go all-holiday last year: KDGE, KLUV and three Christian-music stations, including KLTY/94.9 FM. The Christian stations usually wait till after Thanksgiving to play the format. Nielsen Music says that this makes DFW the No. 1 market for holiday-music airplay on traditional radio.
“Over the last few years, more than 500 stations have gone to holiday programming on or around Thanksgiving,” says an email from a publicity firm representing Nielsen Music.
If you think the DFW stations are doing this early (especially considering forecast highs in the upper 70s next week), consider New Jersey station WEZW, which, according to RadioInsight, flipped Oct. 20. And SiriusXM Satellite Radio launched several Christmas formats on Nov. 1.