The art and science of Christmas music programming for radio

[This was my weekly column for – AC]

With American Thanksgiving, the retail carnage of Black Friday just a few days away (anyone got the over/under on how many people will be injured?), and the appearance of Santa Claus parades, it’s officially Christmas season.

That means for the next five weeks, holiday music will be blasting at every turn.

The creep actually began months ago. In late August, I dropped into my local Canadian Tire looking for some garden supplies. I couldn’t find what I wanted because the shelves were filled with Christmas decorations. When I got back to the home office, I saw that one of the digital music delivery services I use sent me Brenda Lee’s Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. It was Aug. 28. It was followed a day or so later by several more Christmas songs.

The people of the Philippines take Christmas so seriously that they begin preparations Sept. 1. This included the first seasonal spins of Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You on radio stations in Manila and beyond, which seems a bit much, even for Mariah. “My personal preference is to wait until after Thanksgiving. But there’s no regulating festiveness!!!” She also posted “I’ll allow it for my Filipino lambs, though! I don’t make the rules!”

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38458 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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