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What's Next? Fa La La La La.!

Dave Randall

Posted on November 7, 2018 21:42

3 users

The mid-terms are over, but the divisiveness festers. But guess what's on the way...

We can breathe a sigh of relief that, for now, the campaign is over, the votes have been cast. Political pugilism, however, rose the next day anew. There wasn't much time for reflection. As we seem to be now governed in an ongoing state of chaos, respites from the maelstrom churning out of the West Wing appear few and far between. It takes the quirks of everyday life to help us refocus and train our well-developed outrage onto something we can quickly change with the push of a button.

The subject that puts me on a setting for London broil is all-encompassing but so petty, it's almost therapeutic to make it the target of my ventilation. The subject is all-Christmas radio. There is nothing that can short-circuit a human brain and threaten insulin-shock so simultaneously as all Christmas radio, particularly when Christmas is almost two months away. Already, KOOL in Phoenix led the charge, and station after station has made the seasonal switch.

This phenomenon used to be the singular bane of retail workers, taxing their dispositions through day after day of crowds and cacophony, and version after version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, pouring out of overhead speakers and drilling holes in both their patience and their souls. Then, in November, 17 years ago, that changed.

Previously, the common belief in the radio business was that if you started playing too much Christmas music before December 15, listeners would not just turn off their radios in disgust; but some of the most negatively affected by the force-fed good cheer would march to the transmitter, torches and pitchforks held high, and make a Roman Candle out of the tower.

Programmers that acted on the side of caution were right, of course. Christmas music on radio stayed in its place, until 96 hours before the big day, when we all want to hear the Holiday faves that makes us feel the spirit, and remind of us people and times gone by. 

Then 9/11 happened. In the depths of national despair, New Orleans' Magic 101.9 took the plunge into all Christmas tunes, shortly after Halloween. Radio is nothing if not a copy-cat business, so others followed. The ratings success was unprecedented. Christmas music salved a gaping wound in the country's collective psyche. Who knew? Christmas music, in 2001, served the same purpose as The Beatles did in early 1964, following the JFK assassination. It built another neural-pathway in our brains and took our minds off the horror.

To be honest, most stations do it right. They keep their energy and sustain the joy in Christmas. I once worked for a guy who did just the opposite. A co-worker and I came up with an acronym for his Christmas selections: The Four M's-Maudlin, Morose, Mawkish Mush.

The good thing is you don't have to listen until you want to. And most programmers believe in only one M: Merry.

 

Dave Randall

Posted on November 7, 2018 21:42

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Source: NYT

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