Back to Wag-Net Main Page

Radio AM to FM: November 28, 2003

It's beginning to sound a lot like Christmas ...

Two years ago, KOST (103.5 FM) tried something that made most observers laugh: full-time Christmas music. Before Thanksgiving, no less. Who the heck would listen to Christmas music for over a month? they -- including myself -- asked.

Turned out that owner Clear Channel got the last laugh ... all the way to the bank. The experiment made KOST's ratings leap for the month, and gave it quite a nice boost for the Fall ratings quarter of 2001: an increase of almost a full point to 4.1 from 3.3. Stations around the country that tried the experiment saw similar gains as well.

Last year they did it again. And while the effect was not quite as pronounced as 2001, the 2002 ratings for the Fall quarter were up a half point from Summer, to 3.9 from 3.4.

Is it really the Christmas music? Probably. While historically KOST does do quite well in the Fall quarter, in 2000 the increase from Spring was only 0.3; in 1999 it was 0.6 -- a larger increase than last year but a lower overall rating at 3.6 -- and in 1998 they actually declined 0.3.

So while some people complain that the season is just too long, that Christmas music cannot possibly be popular for over a month -- KOST began playing it last Friday -- I've got news for them: it works. Which in a way is kind of nice: anything that extends a season known for goodwill toward men (and women and children) can't be that bad. If you tire of it and desire the regular sappy light rock tunes KOST plays, there's always KBIG (104.3 FM).

A Bit Extreme ...

Of course there are limits. Sunny 104.5 FM in Philadelphia began playing the holiday tunes back on November 12 -- a full 43 days before Christmas Day.

So far over 500 people have signed an online petition to try and stop the Christmas faire. Of course I cannot even fathom the sappy music that must come out of a station called "Sunny." I can't believe it would be any better.

Gift Guide

It's still about 20 days before I begin my Christmas shopping, but for those who like to get things done early, here are a few suggestions:

For the "adult standards" music fan who wants to hear their songs on KLAC (570 AM) or K-SURF (540 and 1260 AM), I highly recommend the GE Superadio III, a large portable radio that has remained a popular model among AM fans for years. The reason is simple: the AM section on this radio is about the best you can get for under $2000.

Listen through the large two-way speaker or connect it to a home stereo system, and you'll hear clean, sparkling AM sound so good that if most radio were like this, KHJ, Ten-Q, KFI and KEZY would still be crankin' out the hits. FM is darn good too. A great long distance radio; available in many retail stores or at for about $50.

For the radio news and rumor fan, a subscription to Don Barrett's would be a wonderful gift ... except that Barrett hasn't announced yet if the site will continue. No worries, though: he won't take subscriptions unless he decides to go the whole year ... and Barrett is a man of his word. Check for official announcements or look right here. Expected cost: about $30 for a year.

Fans of the old time radio would appreciate "a gift as timeless as Christmas itself," CDs or cassettes of old time radio programs. One of the most extensive collections can be found online at, where you can browse through a huge selection of favorites including Jack Benny and Radio's Greatest Christmas Shows.

Have ideas of your own? Send them over!


Copyright © 2003 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

To subscribe to The Daily Breeze, call (310) 540-5511