Programming Tactics For The Christmas Season

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“It’s all about how you decorate the station for the holidays”

The crisp feel of fall is here and that can only mean one thing — the holidays are just around the corner. Many retail locations are already decorated for the season, and soon hundreds of radio stations across the U.S. will switch to all-Christmas programming.

With that in mind, here are 10 programming ideas to consider that will truly make this, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and get you monster ratings too.

1.    Your on-air presentation should remain up and contemporary. Sometimes when stations go to all-Christmas music, the jocks tend to “soften” or bring the presentation down. This is not a time to get soft and melancholy. If anything, the on-air delivery should be up, fun, and exciting.

2.    When opening the mic, jocks should always open with a line like: “B106.1 The Christmas Music Station.” (Do not refer to the music as “Holiday music” always call it “Christmas music”). Other effective positioning lines to consider:

– 100% Christmas Music
– All Christmas Music, All the Time
– Non-Stop Christmas Music
– All Your Christmas Favorites all season

3.     Reinforce these lines every time. Not just sometimes. It’s critical to drive home the “All Christmas” message. It will not get tired. Listeners love this time of year. Take advantage of that.

4.     The goal: “dress up the station” with Christmas cheer. This is a six-week tactic. Sound great and get all the ratings credit. “Sound as good as the stores in the mall look.”

5.     Dress your website, social media, and apps for Christmas. Use the line “The Christmas Music Station.” It’s very important that when a listener goes to the website, it reflects what you are doing on the air. Same for Facebook pages.

6.     Have high production values. Use lots of holiday jingles. If you cannot get new Christmas jingles in time, take your current ones and be creative. Add bells, chimes, and ho-ho-hos to make them sound Christmas.

7.     Make it all about Christmas. All live liners and recorded sweepers refer to Christmas. Now is the time to write your Christmas copy, get it produced and into your system.

8.     Get involved with local Christmas promotions. Local sings, shows that are coming to town (Radio City Music Hall Christmas). Look at a contest tactic like “Christmas Song of the Day.”

9.     Attention diary markets: change your SIP. Make sure it says “Christmas Music,” “Xmas music” etc. Send it to your ratings company ASAP.

10. Most important, run a tight Christmas library. For some reason, many programmers feel that Christmas libraries should be large. Check out the highest-rated all-Christmas stations and you’ll see. Playing the hits (and there are less than 200 of them) works. Radio geek alert: the first and last song of the season should be Andy Williams, “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year…” No particular reason. It’s just the greatest Christmas/Holiday song of all time (IMHO)!

Take these tips and get ready to reap the rewards when fall numbers come out. And by the way, Merry Christmas!

Gary Berkowitz is President of Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting, specializing in AC and Classic Hits formats. Contact him at (248) 737.3727. Email: gary@garyberk.com, or online at www.garyberk.com.

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