by Tracy Johnson
The year is winding down and the staff is counting days until the Holiday break. The ratings period is over, and there are a couple of weeks to relax. Most of the team wants time off and the station is virtually empty. It’s common for programming to suffer during holiday vacations.
Most programmers don’t think too much about the week between Christmas and the new year. Once Christmas programming ends, there’s just the New Year’s Eve show, and maybe a New Year Countdown.
In between, schools are out, much of the audience is on vacation, listener patterns are disrupted and there’s no ratings anyway, so it’s natural to coast a bit.
But wait! While the rest of the world is on cruise control, it’s an opportunity to gain momentum.
There’s no doubt that listening attention is not as high during the holidays, but there are several reasons to program aggressively:
Scan the radio dial anytime between Christmas and January 1. There’s nothing on. It’s a series of year-end specials (boring), fill-in hosts and flashback shows featuring the “best of” the past year.
This creates opportunity.
While the high profile personality shows are running tired best-of shows, program recycled content to sound live! There may be fewer listeners available, but many listeners will be pushing buttons. Make it easy to find a new favorite radio show.
If the station has momentum going into the holiday from playing all Christmas music, don’t let it slip away. Capitalize on that Christmas momentum with phase 2.
Now is the time to convert attention into listening on December 26. Don’t assume the Christmas cume will be there on January 3. It won’t, unless convinced to stay with a great promotion or offer. Most listeners fall back into regular patterns quickly, unless there’s a good reason to continue listening.
Pre-promote a major contest or new feature launch during the last week of the year.
If there is no major promotion the last week of the year, and nothing to pre-sell going into the new year, use the week to thank listeners. Do it right and the station will get credit for the great things in the past year.
Be careful to present it as a current promo that sounds fresh and new, not a “looking back on” campaign.
Here’s an example of a terrific, heart-felt promo from Kool-FM in Victoria:
Use technology and pre-record specialty shows that sound live. At Star 100.7 in San Diego, we had our New Year’s Eve party in the middle of December, recorded live in a production studio with the entire staff participating. We had everything, include drinks, food and party favors. It sounded live and exciting. And it was fun for the staff.
Do the same for countdown shows on New Year’s Day, and other specialty shows planned during this special time of year.
In most areas of programming, the difference between winning and losing is often that extra 10% effort or attention to detail that separates one station from another. Programming around holiday vacations schedule is one area that can make a difference for your station, and in a competitive entertainment environment, every single advantage matters.
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