Early arrival of winter leads holiday charge
Get ready Chicago radio listeners because the Christmas season is here.
As first reported by Robert Feder, Chicago’s go-to Holly Jolly station The Lite (WLIT-FM) is launching its annual Christmas Music format Tuesday afternoon around 4:00 p.m., which usually brings big ratings to the iHeartMedia-owned station and dominates the market for three of Nielsen’s PPM surveys (November, December, and Holiday.)
“There’s no place like home for the holidays and we are delighted to be Chicagoland’s home for holiday cheer in our 19th year,” said WLIT afternoon host and program director Mick Lee in a statement to Feder. “We’re honored that so many Chicagoans include us in their annual holiday traditions, and we can’t wait to celebrate the season with Christmas music, fun contests, and a few new surprises along the way.”
With a huge crush of cold air coming in from the north and many parts of the country already recording snow (Chicago itself had around four inches of snow on Halloween), many stations have already flipped to all-Christmas music. For example, WNIC-FM in Detroit made the switch November 1, right after Halloween. Others making the leap include West Palm Beach, Green Bay, and Greenville, South Carolina. One station in Youngstown, Ohio didn’t even wait until Halloween was over to flip: they did on October 25, becoming the first station to do so.
Even though it does seem early to flip to all-Christmas music, WLIT’s flip this year is in line with recent years. In 2018, WLIT shifted to Christmas music on November 8, and on November 7 in 2017. The shift came a week later in 2014 and 2015, with each launching the format on November 12. The earliest shift came in 2006 and 2007, taking place on November 2 each year.
But for a time last week however, it seemed WLIT was going to get beat to the punch by a rival station: on Friday, Hubbard-owned WSHE-FM (100.3) teased listeners by playing Christmas music all afternoon. The station returned to regular adult contemporary/variety hits format by evening.
— SHE 100.3 (@wshechicago) November 1, 2019
No word was giving why WSHE was playing Christmas music (perhaps punking out WLIT, perhaps) but given the below-average cold temperatures and early snowfall, WSHE certainly read the mood of the city correctly.
Advertisers holiday commercials already filling the airwaves as of Friday, with bows on top of cars and singing Amazon boxes and all. And of course, those Lifetime and Hallmark Christmas movies, which are already in rotation.