Ready or not, it’s Christmas on radio

Christmas musicThanksgivukkah is still two weeks away, but it’s already beginning to sound a lot like Christmas on the radio.

WLIT FM 93.9 began airing its annual around-the-clock Christmas music programming at 4:50 p.m. Thursday. The kickoff tune was indeed Perry Como’s 1951 version of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.”

They’re not calling it “The Holiday Lite” anymore since the Clear Channel adult contemporary station dropped the station’s branding as Lite FM last June and switched to 93.9 MY FM. But they’re still using Edison the Reindeer as their mascot.

For the first couple of years — before “holiday creep” set in — Lite FM didn’t start its all-Christmas music format until the day after Thanksgiving.

Mick Lee

Mick Lee

Things began to get out of hand in 2003 when the former WNND FM 100.3 went all-Christmas on Nov. 18 — nine days before Thanksgiving. Not to be out-cheered by its rival, WLIT flipped the same day. In what may or may not have been an intentional play on words, John Gehron, then-market manager for Clear Channel Chicago, declared: “We’re not taking it lightly.”

Since then, WLIT has started making with the ho, ho, ho as early as Nov. 2, joining other stations around the country in capitalizing on a guaranteed ratings booster. In recent years, it’s turned the launch date into a public guessing game — and an online contest.

“Over the past few weeks, we’ve asked listeners to head to to take a guess at when they think we’re flipping to Christmas music,” program director and afternoon host Mick Lee said in a statement Thursday. “With thousands of submissions, it’s clear that Chicagoland is ready for the holidays! Beginning today, we’re thrilled to announce the tradition of Christmas music continues . . . ”