Interesting article on holiday music programming over at FiveThirtyEight
Holiday Music 7:15 AM Dec 12, 2014
Of Course You Hear What I Hear — Christmas Music Season Is Totally Data-Driven
By Walt Hickey
On Oct. 24 at 6:24 p.m., Magic 96.5 in Birmingham, Alabama, flipped its “St. Nick” switch. The soft-rock radio station began playing all holiday music all the time.
Magic 96.5 (WMJJ-FM) was one of the first stations in 2014 to give listeners exactly what they want at year’s end: more the Madonna than Madonna. In fact, there’s an entire library of songs that are in constant demand now, but people cringe if they hear them months before.
Radio’s wall-to-wall holiday format is a recent development. Of course, stations in the past played some Christmas music on Dec. 24 and 25, but the vast majority of soft-rock stations began switching to all-holiday soundtracks in the 1990s. The first to throw out its regular playlist entirely was 99.9 KEZ (KESZ-FM) in Phoenix, in 1991 or 1992.1 The variety station saw a substantial jump in its ratings, and the trend eventually caught on nationwide. <more>
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