The Great Christmas Radio Wars Of 2008 Are Totally On, Grinches

noah | November 6, 2008 1:00 am

Those of you who are keeping track of regular radio stations flipping to all-holiday formats before the traditional “day after Thanksgiving” start date, take note: two Boston stations have gone all-Christmas as of today, and I’m sure there are other stations around the country that have followed suit as well. (If you know of any in your neck of the woods, feel free to take to our comments section!) Meanwhile, the New York oldies station WCBS started sprinkling a few holiday surprises into its playlists all the way back in October, when it was trying to boost its listeners’ spirits with a Santa Song Of The Day. The lite-FM powerhouse WLTW decided that imitation was the best Christmas gift it could give to WCBS, so it too started playing its own Santa Songs, and that resulted in WCBS throwing a big fat lump of litigation down the waiting-room staple’s chimney:

WCBS-FM started playing a “Santa Song of the Day” on Oct. 1, using it for a station contest. It also is calling itself the city’s radio “Home for the Holidays.”

On Oct. 13, WLTW also started a “Santa Song of the Day” contest – which annoyed WCBS-FM enough that CBS lawyers served Lite with a “cease and desist” order.

So Lite is playing a “Stocking Stuffer Song of the Day.”

Meanwhile, the question remains: Isn’t going all-holiday-music a really good way to make people switch away from your station? Someone in the radio industry decided to commission a study and find out!

The trade mag Radio & Records recently reported on a study by Direct Marketing Results and Arbitron that breaks down the tradeoff from all-Christmas formats.

In past years, Lite lost half its primary listeners by going all-Christmas.

Wait, what?! That’s good news, right? Oh, wait:

But it picked up even more who don’t usually tune in, including a lot from urban stations, for a big net gain.

Sigh. But: I wonder if this little bit of news will result in more R&B and hip-hop stations turning to all-holiday-music formats this year?

Local Radio Stations Begin Playing Christmas Tunes [WBZ] WLTW & WCBS are dueling over Christmas music [NYDN]