That was the reaction of many radio listeners after WJYE 96.1 and Star 102.5 began playing holiday music when Halloween was over.
Not me. I am thankful to them for forcing me to search the radio dial for alternatives to “Frosty the Snowman,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and “Jingle Bells.”
According to Arbitron, 96.1 and 102.5 get about a combined 11 percent share of the available radio in November and early December when they play holiday music, which is much higher than they get the rest of the year. The increase in audience is a bonus to the station’s bottom line.
But there also is a bonus for the 90 percent who flee as soon as Jimmy Boyd, Bing Crosby or even Bruce Springsteen begins singing a holiday tune: This year’s early holiday music arrival is an opportunity to check out what you’ve been missing on the radio dial.
Let’s face it, we are creatures of habit and that extends to radio. My habit usually has been to listen to the sports talkers on WGR, with an occasional move over to WBEN at the top of the hour to catch the news before the right-wing talkers take over.
I’d rather listen to Jimmy Boyd and Bing Crosby than Rush Limbaugh, Sandy Beach or Tom Bauerle, and that’s even more the case during the holiday season when I am in search of calm. But that’s just me.
I’m not ready for the calm of holiday music until about the third week of December, by which time Arbitron is no longer measuring listeners in its fall book.
So I’ve looked elsewhere for my listening pleasure.
I’ve instantly become a fan of 107.7, the alternative format that Entercom started after deciding simulcasting the blowhards of WBEN wasn’t such a hot idea. It plays a lot of artists I recognize, but even more who I don’t recognize. That’s why I agree with my readers that the station should identify the songs and the artists more often. Maybe they will do that once Entercom hires some disc jockeys, as it is expected to do.
The second station I’ve fallen for is WBLK-FM, which calls itself the People’s Station. I hadn’t realized it had become so popular until I did some research about the popularity of holiday music and discovered that 93.7 FM was just behind first place WYRK and WBEN in listeners age 12 and over in the fall book of 2012.
After listening to a winning combination of romantic songs and popular current artists such as Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z, Drake, Kanye West and Chris Brown, I understand why the hip-hop and R&B station is so popular. It has something for everyone. Listening to WBLK made me feel young and cool. OK, that’s a stretch. But I immediately made it one of my top push-button selections in my car, knocking WJYE off its place.
I’ve long been aware that WYRK, the local country station, is extremely popular here and the strong TV ratings for the Country Music Awards and other TV specials validate the genre’s mainstream popularity here.
But unlike many Western New Yorkers, I’ve never been much of a country fan. I tried the station that has the slogan “your country station for life” for 30 minutes one weekend during the daytime and heard Dale Mussen and had two quick thoughts. 1) He works on weekends? 2) I sort of like several of these tunes and artists, probably because I understand every word they are singing. WYRK also plays a lot of cheerful songs. On Wednesday morning when the temperature hit 25, my spirits rose when I heard the song “75 and Sunny.” I immediately decided to make WYRK part of my new push button life, replacing 102.5.
One Saturday afternoon, I pushed the scan button to find some stations. Ah, Canada. I ran into 105.1 from Niagara Falls, Ont., and heard some of the songs that 96.1 and 102.5 might play when they aren’t chasing holiday money. It is a keeper, too.
I’ve also found myself listening more to 88.7 FM, the local public broadcasting station that covers the important things in life during weekdays and keeps me laughing on weekends with Peter Sagal’s current events show “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.” Listening to 88.7 makes me feel smarter.
I guess I don’t have to tell you that I listen to a lot of sports radio, which is holiday-music proof. I’ve spent some time recently checking out the new alternatives to WGR, which concentrates on the Bills and Sabres.
You can only listen to the Bulldog and Mike Schopp discuss the Bills’ playoff possibilities for so long – with me, it’s 15 minutes – before looking for a sports alternative.
ESPN 1520, an Entercom station like WGR, has instantly become a favorite. That is especially true in the midmorning. It was really hard to listen to the “Sabres Hockey Hotline” with Kevin Sylvester and Andrew Peters for long before the Sabres were recharged by hiring Pat LaFontaine and Ted Nolan.
I have become a fan again of Colin Cowherd, who used to be on WGR and is now on 1520 competing with WGR’s hockey show. Though WGR hosts regularly bashed Cowherd, he is one of the most creative and interesting sports talk show hosts in the country and he also gets some great national guests.
I also listen to CBS Sports Radio on 1270 AM, which has become lost in the shuffle since ESPN 1520 came to town. Like early holiday Christmas music, CBS Sports Radio isn’t going to go away because Cumulus, the owner of 1270, is putting the format on its stations nationally.
I try to catch John Feinstein’s program in the morning on 1270 as often as I can because he is one of the more well-rounded talk show hosts around and he loves college basketball almost as much as I do.
The station also has become the home of University at Buffalo football and basketball, though it can be difficult to hear the games if you live close to UB.
If that’s the case for you, may I suggest you try WBLK, WYRK, 105.1, 88.7 and 107.7 at least until mommy stops kissing Santa Claus.