Copyright ©2011 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

If you hope to hear a lot of Christmas music this year, you will have plenty of help. The radio has more Christmas music than ever. More stations are going all-Christmas, and they're doing it earlier. NPR's Ben Bergman explains why.

BEN BERGMAN, BYLINE: The reason is simple: Christmas music makes ratings go through the roof.

SEAN ROSS: For a lot of stations, it's the kind of ratings that haven't been seen in 30 years.

BERGMAN: Sean Ross is executive editor of the trade website radio-info.com. He says over 160 stations have already made the switch this year, from Houston to Honolulu, some as early as mid-October. Another reason why: parents listen with their kids.

ROSS: Ironically, it actually makes the audience younger, even though the station is playing Bing Crosby and Andy Williams records.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR")

BING CROSBY: Do you know what I know?

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Do you know what I know?

BERGMAN: In Los Angeles, two stations are duking it out for who can be the king of Christmas radio.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO PROGRAM)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: KOST 103.5, Southern California's official holiday music station.

BERGMAN: There's KOST, which was L.A.'s only all-Christmas station. Now there's the WAVE, which turned on its Christmas tunes almost a week earlier than KOST.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO ADVERTISEMENT)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Ho-ho. L.A.'s new Christmas station. (Singing) 94.7, the WAVE.

BERGMAN: The WAVE's program director Jhani Kaye used to be in charge of programming at KOST. He oversaw that station's holiday switch 10 years ago after seeing it work in Phoenix. Some of his colleagues thought he was crazy.

JHANI KAYE: For you to take a ratings-winning adult contemporary station and basically flip the format - that was a first about a decade ago.

BERGMAN: The switch brought ratings gold.

KAYE: We went way up, instantly.

BERGMAN: Kay admits to some complaints from listeners who missed the WAVE's usual adult contemporary format, so he emphasizes his selection of Christmas music is smooth and jazzy, not too jarringly different. And besides, for Kaye and other program directors embracing the Christmas season, the uptick in ratings is so big, alienating a few Grinches is worth it.

KAYE: Radio stations are very much like restaurants, and whenever you change a menu, there are always going to be some customers who miss their favorite items. And when the menu comes back December 26th, I believe that listeners to the WAVE know where to go for their smooth vocals.

BERGMAN: Ben Bergman, NPR News, Los Angeles.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DECK THE HALLS")

INSKEEP: And that's the business news on MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.