Some stations already have started – not a surprise since WalMart moved Black Friday a week ahead of Thanksgiving this year.
Each year – like clockwork – radio stations will begin broadcasting “Holiday Music Season” – songs about reindeer, trees, snow, bells, toy soldiers, polar bears, penguins, Santa Claus and especially expensive presents people can’t afford – but nary a religious song that might offend Muslims, Hindus, followers of the Babylonian Talmud, Communists or Festivus traditionalists.
Stations that do this know they will get a huge one month spike in their Arbtitron/Nielsen ratings, which will fool unsophisticated radio buyers into thinking people will still be listening to that station in January and agree to pay high advertising rates. Mostly the stations that do this are the ones that play “Lite” music targeted at women.
Another Radio tradition is that once the Holiday Music season has finished and everyone gets drunk on January 1st, stations “flip” formats – it’s been a month since you listened to your favorite “x” type of music, so when it suddenly has switched to the “y” format, you barely remember what it used to be – if they do the change overnight at any other time of the year, people will be much more annoyed. Changing formats also allows the radio station owners to quietly fire all the staff without them being able to say goodbye on the air.
This means we are entering a month where it gets difficult to test radio stations to see what format they are – I typically change the format to “Holiday Music” and then find out what it is in Early January, but I’m really losing enthusiasm for the radio industry – if it isn’t blindingly obvious yet.