At noon on the day before Thanksgiving, the switch was flipped at WKQC-FM (“K” 104.7) and out came “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Andy Williams. Since then, it has played nothing but Christmas music.
WKQC has gone all-Yule as early as Halloween, but this year waited until the official start of the holiday season, which is just about right, says operations manager John Reynolds. This year the station has a near-monopoly on Christmas music in Charlotte.
Its main competitor, WLYT-FM (“Lite”), abandoned the contemporary adult format two years ago and changed to a successful hits format as WLKO-FM (“Lake” 102.9). And WRCM-FM (“New Life” 91.9), a contemporary Christian station for the last two decades that played purely Christmas music this time of year, switched to the syndicated, California-based K-Love format this week after it was sold by Columbia International University in Columbia.
Other stations dip in and out with seasonal melodies, but WKQC has made its living each year since 2003 on wall-to-wall yule tunes. Research on listener favorites determines the play list, which airs in rotation.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Atop the North Pole hit roster are the most-played compositions: José Feliciano’s 1970 “Feliz Navidad,” “All I Want for Christmas” by Mariah Carey, “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole, “Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney, “A Holly Jolly Christmas” by Burl Ives, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Andy Williams and “Jingle Bell Rock” by Bobby Helms.
Reynolds says that listeners call and write to the station in the fall every year asking when the Christmas music will start, and often make requests. If they have the song and it has mass appeal, it’s likely that WQKC will air it.
“It’s a positive,” Reynolds says. “Christmas music is all about memories, memories as kids of Christmases past, and makes you feel good.”
Last year, as it usually does, WKQC rode to the top of the Charlotte radio rankings in December. Many listeners who spend their time elsewhere the rest of the year come to WKQC during the holidays and stay there.
Last month, for example, the WKQC ranked No. 10 among major Charlotte stations and it can be expected to be No. 1, with about a 25 percent increase in listeners, when this month’s ratings are available early next year.
An analysis last year by Nielsen showed that radio Christmas music listening peaks on Christmas Eve, when ratings surge 582 percent over any average day on stations known for their Christmas-music formats.
There’s one other tradition with Christmas music on the radio: It ends promptly on Dec. 26.
Nostalgia lasts just so long, then becomes ho-ho-hum.
Joining WBTV (Channel 3) is meteorologist Lyndsay Tapases. Tapases, who starts next week, was at the ABC affiliate in Roanoke, Va., for four years. She grew up in Westfield, Mass., and graduated from Penn State. …
WJZY (Channel 46) has named Karen Koutsky news director beginning in January. Koutsky, a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, succeeds Geoff Roth, who returned to Fox’s Houston station in September after launching the news department at the Fox-owned station last January. Koutsky has been the news director at WGHP (Channel 8), the Fox affiliate in High Point and has worked as a TV news executive in Indianapolis, Toledo and Atlanta. In High Point, she worked for Karen Adams, who is now the general manager of WJZY. …
At WFAE-FM (NPR, 90.7), social media expert and “Babes of NPR” founder Katie Herzog departs for a job at Grist.org, a Seattle-based environmental news site. Joining the news staff in January is reporter Gwendolyn Glenn and announcer Tequilla Duru. Glenn comes from the NPR affiliate in Baltimore and Duru is a veteran of Charlotte radio, most recently at WGIV-FM (103.3 FM). … Tim Greene joins WSGE-FM (Gaston College, 91.7) as morning personality and music director. …
Guenn Schneider returns to mornings on WSOC-FM (103.7) from maternity leave after having her second child, Caroline Rose, on Sept. 27. … WSOC-FM midday host Catherine Lane gets married and takes off for a Disney World honeymoon. …
Vince Coakley and Tara Servatius, both of whom held the afternoon drive-time shift at WBT-AM (1110), started this week at the Greenville, S.C., station WYRD-FM (“WORD” 106.3). Servatius, a graduate of Charlotte Catholic High School and the UNC Chapel Hill journalism school, joined WBT as late-night host in June 2007 and replaced Jeff Katz in the afternoon slot when he left in December 2008. Her contract wasn’t renewed in 2011, and Coakley took over. Coakley, a Cincinnati native, is best known for his 18 years at WSOC (Channel 9) where he succeeded Bill Walker as prime anchor in 2005. He ran unsuccessfully as the Republican candidate for Congress in North Carolina’s 12th District this fall.