Love it or loathe it, Triangle radio listeners are getting twice as much Christmas music this year.
Two local stations switched this week to an all-Christmas format, WRAL-FM 101.5 and WRDU-FM 106.1. Last year, WRAL was the only one.
As always, the quest for higher ratings drives the decision, especially with advertisers slashing spending. This is WRAL's third annual switch. Last year, ratings rose 38 percent among its target demographic, women ages 25 to 54, said program director Barry Fox.
"We lose a few listeners, but we gain many more," Fox said. "We were receiving a lot of calls and e-mails [this year], asking when we were going to start. Then when we made the switch, we got some complaints."
Especially with the slumping economy this year, Fox said, fans of Bing Crosby, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and others want music that brings back fond memories. "It puts them in a happy mindset," he added.
Fox admits that with another station in town playing all-holiday music, there are only so many fans to go around. But WRAL's adult-contemporary format the rest of the year makes the transition easy on its listeners. The station is owned by Raleigh-based Capitol Broadcasting.
WRDU has been a country station, but plans to convert Jan. 1 to a conservative talk station featuring Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and others. Officials with WRDU and its parent corporation Clear Channel couldn't be reached for comment on Friday.