When KVIL 103.7 FM tweaked its format in May, dropping the “Lite” brand it had used for several years for a more uptempo “Best Variety ... ’90s, 2K & Today” sound, Robert Philpot of the Star-Telegram asked a station spokeswoman whether it would continue to do Christmas music, which it had done since 2001. He was told that it was still being discussed.
The Christmas format, which KVIL usually launches in mid-November, has been a big winner for the station; it has ruled the “holiday” ratings period, regularly coming in first -- the only times since Arbitron introduced Portable People Meters in DFW 2008 that KHKS/106.1 FM “KISS-FM” hasn’t topped the overall ratings chart.
Why wouldn’t KVIL stick with what has worked so well for so long? Because CBS Radio, which owns KVIL, had other plans.
CBS Radio has confirmed KLUV 98.7 FM will be playing Christmas music this year and not KVIL.
“We’re passing the torch from KVIL to KLUV,” Ron Harrell, director of music programming for CBS Radio Dallas-Fort Worth. “Christmas music is a natural fit with KLUV’s classic-hits format, and our listeners will embrace it.”
The move has some radio watchers wondering if CBS is planning a format change on KLUV, after the holidays? Specualation centers on ‘Amp’-style station, to challenge Clear Channel’s KHKS 106.1 FM KISS-FM.
Philpot notes CBS went after KISS before in the early 21st century with the “Hot” and “Wild” formats, neither of which succeeded in taking KISS down. Both were on 100.3 FM, which has run the variety “Jack-FM” format since summer of 2004.
A CBS spokeswoman says that a post-Christmas format change is not planned for KLUV, which placed seventh overall in the latest Nielsen Audio ratings (for October) and has been holding more or less steady in the ratings for at least the past six months but is down from a year ago, while KVIL saw a big dropoff in overall ratings in September and October. KLUV cracked the top five in its target 25-to-54-year-old demographic.
And there’s been speculation that, with the death of Kidd Kraddick this year, KISS and its flagship show Kidd Kraddick in the Morning are vulnerable. But KKITM listeners are a loyal bunch, and KISS has not shown any signs of weakness.