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Radio stations get a jump on Christmas

It's all Christmas, all the time, at two Buffalo radio stations.

Two FM stations -- Joy 96.1 WJYE and Star 102.5 WTSS -- started offering holiday music on Monday.

Though the holiday is still 37 days out, WJYE Program Director Chuck Stevens said there's already a market for listeners ready to slip into the holiday mood.

"They're definitely ready for it," Stevens said. "Not only is it a great holiday, I think it's an escape for people this year."

Stevens said the holiday tunes give listeners a break from the economy and other worries.

Joy 96.1 will carry the Christmas format through the holiday and possibly a few days beyond, Stevens said.

"Believe it or not, we started getting emails before Halloween from people wondering when we were switching," said Brian Demay, program director for Star 102.5. "We do it because people really, really like it. Our ratings really increase this time of year."

Star 102.5 started playing holiday music on Monday and will continue until New Year's Day, Demay said. 

But not everyone is ready to hear Christmas music a week before the Thanksgiving holiday.

"We do a lot of audience feedback with our listeners, and there was really just two very simple things that they responded back to us," said Chet Osadchey, general manager of Citadel Broadcasting in Buffalo. "And that was that Christmas music absolutely needs to start after Thanksgiving."

Second, he said, listeners have told Citadel they want only a limited amount of Christmas music each hour in the days after Thanksgiving.

Citadel's Classic Hits 104.1 WHTT will start playing one holiday song an hour after Thanksgiving. Holiday music will increase steadily after that until the stations airs 36 hours of commercial-free holiday music starting at noon Dec. 24, Osadchey said.

Osadchey said many advertisers have also made it clear they're not interested in 24/7 Christmas music before Thanksgiving.

He said some worry about "audio fatigue" when listeners are inundated with holiday music too early.

On the AM dial, Citadel's Swing 1270 WHLD-AM offered a lineup of music and vintage Christmas radio shows all last week. It returned to its regular lineup this week, but will repeat the week of holiday programming again starting Dec. 19.

For listeners who aren't in the holiday spirit, Joy FM is offering a stream of its more typical selections on its website.

"That's something new we did this year," Stevens said. "A majority of our listeners want the Christmas music, but certainly not everybody."

--Denise Jewell Gee

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