In this week’s issue… Holiday music arrives – WEDG fills morning slot – Remembering WTEN’s Wood, WDRC’s Davis – Kalina retires from WOGL – New CBC frequency
By SCOTT FYBUSH
(This is a shorter NERW than usual this time of year, for some good reasons: there’s almost no FCC news because the Commission has cut off public releases of its database updates during the current filing window for new noncommercial FM stations, which started Nov. 2 and ends tomorrow. And here at NERW Central, our Fybush Media arm has been busy making some of those filings, while we’re also putting the finishing touches on Tower Site Calendar 2022 before its big release next week. We’ll be back to full strength here next Monday!)
*It’s been a long, long time since the list of stations flipping to all-Christmas formats this time of year was a daily obsession in this space, and it’s almost hard to remember what a big deal it was back in the days when your editor was at the helm of the (sadly, now defunct) 100000watts.com, curating the definitive list of daily updates and even – once! – getting quoted in the New York Times about the trend.
In the years since, there’s been a pretty standard list of stations (almost always AC or soft AC) that make the flip, and it’s almost always around this time in November.
So why are we leading with this ho-ho-hoary chestnut (and not even the “roasting by the open fire” kind) this week?
Because after the first batch of “usual suspects” made their flips over the last few weeks (with Cumulus right at the starting gate back in October at WWIZ 103.9 on the Pennsylvania edge of the Youngstown, Ohio market), there was indeed one surprise on Friday: instead of flipping its usual stations piecemeal over several weeks, iHeart took advantage of its national footprint to go all-Christmas on 80 stations at once.
The list is mostly pretty predictable, at least in our region: AC sisters WHYN-FM (93.1 Springfield) and WSRS (96.1 Worcester) in Massachusetts; WSUS (102.3) in Sussex, New Jersey; WTRY (98.3) in Albany, WMXW (103.3) in Binghamton, WVOR (102.3) in Canandaigua, WRNQ (92.1) in Poughkeepsie and WYYY (94.5) in Syracuse in New York; WWSW (94.5) in Pittsburgh and WKSB (102.7) in Williamsport in Pennsylvania. A few markets are missing – there’s no flip yet in Providence, for instance, and New York’s WLTW (106.7) will apparently wait until a little closer to Thanskgiving – but it’s a coordinated move tied to the announcement of a big iHeart holiday special to air November 24 across the company’s AC, hot AC and classic hits stations.
And of course it’s not just iHeart making flips: in Buffalo, for instance, there are already two holiday stations, with Townsquare’s “Breeze” WMSX (96.1) now joining Audacy’s “Star” WTSS (102.5).
Too early? Right on time? Your editor (who’s decidedly not in the demographic for this particular format) long ago gave up trying to make sense of the timing here; the format has its fans, and clearly makes a lot of money and delivers some solid ratings wins to many of the stations that go there year after year. And yes, of course, we’ll be here to report on any actual format changes that follow all-Christmas changes this year.
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