During the past few days, classic-hits station KLUV/98.7 FM has been running an online poll asking listeners when — or if — it should make its annual change to Christmas music. The results were skewing strongly toward this Saturday, which was the first option.
But anyone who wants the Christmas music that early no longer has to wait. The station flipped to Christmas music at 4 p.m. Wednesday, with Jose Feliciano’s Feliz Navidad.
It is probably not a coincidence that the CBS-owned station flipped about an hour after news broke that rival iHeartRadio made a big change at KDGE/102.1 FM “The Edge.”
Initial indications were that iHeart had dropped the alternative-music format that KDGE has been airing since 1989, first at 94.5 FM and then at 102.1 FM, where the format has aired (and morphed) since 2000. (RadioInsight.com, which broke the Edge story, is currently down so I’m not linking to it here — yet, anyway.)
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But the Edge’s Facebook page has an announcement saying “The sound of the Edge” is moving to 97.1 “The Eagle.” And “Listen Thursday, November 17, at 5:00 p.m. for the new sound of 102.1.”
Don’t be surprised if that new sound is also Christmas music.
For decades, CBS-owned KVIL/103.7 was the Christmas station. Then, a couple of years ago, KLUV took over the duties. Whichever station aired the Christmas format tended to rule the ratings books for at least two months. The ratings boost in 2015, along with some format tweaks, has made KLUV one of the strongest stations in the market, usually in a fight with iHeart’s Top 40 KHKS/106.1 FM “KISS-FM” and Cumulus Media’s country station KPLX/99.5 FM “The Wolf” for the overall No. 1 position.
It was no secret, and KLUV didn’t try to make it one, that it would go all-Christmas again this year. The question was when. Hence, the poll. Many people think Nov. 16 is too early, much less Nov. 19, but KLUV jumped right after iHeart apparently pushed the Edge off a cliff.
So — does CBS expect iHeart to put a Christmas format on 102.1 at 5 p.m. Thursday? It’s possible. It would take some of the ratings away from KLUV. (Christian station KLTY/94.9 FM also typically launches a Christmas format, usually around Thanksgiving night.)
It is also possible that, if the alternative format moves from 102.1 FM to 97.1, the move will be temporary. IHeart makes 102.1 a Christmas station for a few weeks, and then when Christmas is over, everything moves back to where it was.
This is all conjecture, of course. It’s possible that we’ll actually get a new, non-Christmas format at 102.1 FM at 5 p.m. Thursday. Whatever happens, don’t expect The Russ Martin Show on 97.1 FM to go anywhere. His show does well, and it fits an alternative-music format.
Whatever happens, it’s been a while since DFW radio has played these kinds of reindeer games.