Christmas may be six weeks away, but Chicago radio can’t wait to get into the holiday spirit.
Starting just after midnight Friday, WLIT FM 93.9 will switch to around-the-clock Christmas music programming for the 14th consecutive year. Edison the Reindeer returns as the official holiday mascot of “Chicago’s Christmas Station.”
“Eleven months on 93.9 My FM you can hear Maroon 5, P!nk, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry and more variety from the ’90s ’til now,” Mick Lee, program director of the iHeartMedia adult contemporary station, said in a statement. “But it’s time to officially kick off Chicago’s holiday season with non-stop Christmas music.”
On Thursday, Hubbard Radio beat iHeartMedia to the holiday punch when WILV FM 100.3 began alternating holiday classics with songs from its regular adult-contemporary playlist, calling it “The Perfect Christmas Blend.” Other stations are likely to jump in, too.
For the first few years, WLIT waited until the day after Thanksgiving to start its all-Christmas music format. But the gimmick proved so popular with listeners — and competitors — that station bosses couldn’t hold off that long. (One year they flipped the switch as early as November 2.) More recently they’ve turned the date and time of the launch into an online guessing game.
Despite criticism from some quarters, it’s hard to argue with success: Ratings skyrocket for 93.9 My FM during the holiday period. Each week in December last year, more than 3.2 million listeners tuned in to the station, boosting its overall audience share to the top of the market and leaving all others far behind.