Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Why You Can't Escape Christmas Radio

To consumers, all-holiday radio sounds like Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas is You" played 28 times an hour every day for more than a month. To radio stations, it's the jingle bells of a machine that hits the jackpot the same time every year.

The Street has a story that reads with each holiday season, with increasing eagerness and frequency, radio gets into the spirit by booting its regular offerings from the airwaves and replacing them with just about every hymn, carol and children's song ever played -- in all their various and oft-overwrought pop iterations. In Providence, R.I., Clear Channel-owned WSNE 93.3 was all-holiday and playing Andy Williams' "It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" by Nov. 7.

Even on Web-based Pandora, spokeswoman Deborah Roth says the site's "Christmas" genre station is the most frequently added station as of Nov. 12, while Sirius-XM Satellite Radio launched six holiday-themed channels Monday.

This year, 33 stations across the U.S. changed to the all-holiday format before Nov. 12, according to broadcast and cable tracking firm Media Monitors. Eventually, there will be more than 100 stations nationwide embracing the same 24-hour holiday format that Media Monitors says was responsible for playing last season's most popular all-holiday song -- Burl Ives' "Have A Holly Jolly Christmas" -- 17,233 times in December alone. Considering those stations usually bring the format screeching to a halt Christmas night, that's more than 689 plays per day -- or 29 times an hour.

Considering it's a two-minute song, that actually leaves listeners with 48 "Holly Jolly"-free minutes a day.

Last year's No. 2, Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree," is a similarly merciful length, but the No. 3 -- Mariah's aforementioned "All I Want For Christmas Is You" -- defies mathematical logic. Played 16,634 times last December, the four-minute holiday powerhouse is played roughly 28 times an hour in the first 25 days of the month -- cramming 112 minutes of pitchy holiday standard in a 60-minute time slot.
It's too early to tell which songs will be monopolizing the airwaves this year, but Mariah, Burl and Brenda seem like safe bets to retake the crown.

Read more here.

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