It bothered me that radio stations started playing non-stop Christmas music after Thanksgiving, but here in Boston at least one station has started up a relentless program on NOTHING BUT CHRISTMAS MUSIC and it’s not even Thanksgiving Week yet! This is driving me insane.
I can look at this with a cynical eye, and say “Well, they’re trying to drum up sentiment for the upcoming Christmas Season, when most of the stores make their big sales for the year, and they’re trying to soften us up for it.” But I just can’t see the presidents of Wal Mart and Federated Department Stores and all the others getting together and saying “We’d better start saturating the markets now. Tell the East Coast division to start playing nothing but Christmas Hoke starting NOW!”
I sure as heck can’t believe they’re doing it in response to listener’s requests. Everyone I talk to says “Christmas Music? Already? Nooooo!”
Realistically, how does this get done? Whose managerial hand wrote the order that started the Yuletide earlier this year than last? Do the raduio people suggest it and then ask for extra bucks of the merchants for pushing the season, or do the marketers go to the media with a big check and say “Christmas Schmaltz! Right now!”
I like to refer to Thanksgiving as the forgotten holiday, since everywhere you go you transition straight from Halloween to a 2 month Christmas Extravaganza it seems. I refuse to acknowledge any of it until the day after Thanksgiving.
(My wife on the other hand, has been listening to my homemade Christmas songs CD for the past month: and I’m sure I’d find her listening to the all Christmas music station now were it available to her… grrr)
Please, folks, while I like Recreational Outrage over too-early Christmas Music Blitz as much as the next guy, this isn’t the intent of this thread.
My real question is impliocit in the title and stated at the end – HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?
Really, and Realistically, who’s responsible for kicking this konstrosity earlier in the year?
I don’t know the answer to your question, but when Richard Roper wrote a column in the Sun Times a couple of weeks ago about the Chicago station that does the same thing, he apparently got more than a few angry responses from readers who claimed to enjoy the 24-hour Christmas music in early November, and telling him to mind his own business. So, I guess there is an audience for it.
You want to hear something crazy? I just got back from the tropical US virgin islands (St. Croix). Not only are they playing Christmas music on the radio, the local K-mart is selling Christmas/Winter lawn decorations. Animated lighted yard figurines of deer, penguins, snowmen… fucking SNOWMEN ON A TROPICAL GODDAMNED ISLAND WHERE EVERYBODY LOOKS LIKE BOB MARLEY?
Retailers, of course. Holidays, and in particular Christmas, is when they get the greatest returns on all their expenses… merchandise, hired help, etc. It’s definitely in their interest to prolong the season that gives them not only the highest margins but the highest revenues. I’ve heard the bells jingling as soon as the day after Halloween.
And I do think there is interplay between the retailers and radio broadcasters. If Wal-Mart is hauling out the holly early, they want people to come buy the shit, so they’re going to start advertising. One of those advertising media is going to be radio. Airtime for Christmas ads, if I’m correct, can be sold for higher prices if it runs concurrent with Christmas music. So the radio programmers are just dipping their bucket into the big Christmas well along with everyone else.
If it makes you feel any better, I think Halloween and New Years are natural boundaries for the season of good cheer and retailing. If there are any incidents of non-ironic Christmas marketing outside of those dates, I’m not aware of it.
The obvious answer, and one I state in my OP. But how does it get done? In particular, what drove WROR to start so early? Does it start at a local level with the radio guys going to the retailers and saying "We’re kicking it up earlier this year, so do you want to buy time on “Jingle Bells?”, or do the local retailers say “Put on Rudolph a week earlier this year, and we’ll bump up our advertising minutes”, or does the radio Uber-Master elsewhere in the country make a blanket decision about this, or do the Gods of Wal-Mart decide that Christmas advertising is going to start NOW and send out the word to everyone?
I think the blame belongs to the retailers’ use of advertising to create artificial demand. Broadcast media don’t do this on their own. It originates from the merchants, who dictate marching orders to the ad agencies, who work with the broadcast media to create the most favorable environment for everyone to make money.
Of course, the consumer ultimately bears some responsibility as well, because some people really do begin Christmas shopping that early, and therefore create a market for all these services.
If I were you, I’d just hang out at the Christmas tree stand at Costco, and if anyone tries to buy one before Thanksgiving, whop them on the head with a fruitcake.
At least two stations in this area have switched over to 24-7 Christmas. To make things worse, the only classic rock station is currently stuck in '70’s lounge music mode, and the other decent rock station is doing a telethon.
In Chicago, there’s a little story behind it this year. Every year, WLIT (“The Lite”) starts playing 24/7 Christmas music about the week of Thanksgiving. It’s their ‘thing’ and apparently makes them a good sum of cash in ad revenue. This year, another station, WCKG, decided to switch formats. To fill up some dead time before they decide what to do with the station, they announced that they’d go all Christmas on Nov 1. WLIT, not to be outdone on their own gimmick, also went all Christmas on Nov 1 which came as a surprise to a lot of people since it wasn’t announced and was in fact three weeks ahead of schedule.
So now we have two solid months of Christmas music on two stations because one of them had nothing better to fill the airwaves with.
I blame the retailers. I work at Kroger, throwing stock during the midnight shift. Ten days before Halloween my store decorated for Christmas – and I mean they decorated for Christmas! The tall lighted tree in the foyer, fake snow, the main Action Alley filled with Christmas items like candy canes, lawn decorations, Christmas cards, the aisles decorated with fake presents, the whole works. Halloween was still ten days away and all Halloween items were shoved into the back corner of the store on three mobile display shelves.
Granted, my store was the only Kroger in the area to be decked out like this so early because we were the “example store” for the zone. It didn’t stop a lot of the customers from (rightly) complaining about it but I’m sure that just as many simply accepted it as a standard practice, which means that it probably also makes sense to them that radio stations play non-stop Christmas music on November 1st. I mean, if it’s happening out there in public then it must be okay, right?
Last year Kroger didn’t start this nonsense until the second week in November, which was bad enough. With the ridiculously early start to the pomp this year, they’ve added an extra three weeks to my annual bout with depression, stress, and sadness.
Hmm. I made a guess that I would hear my first Christmas song of the year on either 97.3 or 98.1 on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week but that didn’t happen. Instead, a completely different station has gone to an all-holiday-music weekend, so I expect they’ll be back to normal format on Monday.
I didn’t mind that they weren’t playing holiday music, but this is the latest I’ve heard it start in the last several years.
Oh, and to the OP, it goes along well with the Christmas for Kids drives that many stations (in my area, at least) are having this week.