Get Out Your Ugly Christmas Sweaters Cause It’s Almost That Time

We’re less than three short months away from Christmas Day, and there’s already a station in Youngstown, Ohio that has made the switch to all Christmas music.  Oh the humanity.

All this to say in just a short while a good number of Christian music stations will do the unthinkable, completely change their format for a month or longer.  It really is a radical move if you think about it.  I mean would Coca Cola stop making Coca Cola for the month of December and only produce eggnog flavored soda?  Of course not, but that’s what makes radio different, we’re a part of people’s lifestyle and not simply a consumable product.

So, if people are thinking Christmas, Christmas, Christmas from Thanksgiving to Christmas Day, giving them all Christmas music as a sort of soundtrack to their life doesn’t sound as ridiculous now does it?

In a recent Mark Ramsey research study, we found that 75% of all 25-54 year-old female radio listeners tuned into Christmas music at some point during the previous holiday season.  And a whopping 90% of our station’s 25-54 year-old female P1 listeners did the same.  If you’re not going Christmas, you’re missing an amazing opportunity to open your doors to new listeners in your community.  If you’re not providing it, they’ll go find it elsewhere.

A lot of these radio listeners might never tune into a Christian radio station, but they will tune into a station playing Christmas music.  We may be changing what songs we play on the radio during this time, but we’re still selling our brand, our encouragement, our inspiration, our family, our community.  It’s an open house where everyone is invited, so make them feel welcome.

What are the advantages of going all Christmas?  

You can own the image in your market.  You can bring in a bigger cume during this time.  It’s an open house for the station to many new people so put on your best.  The vast majority of these “new ears” will not be familiar with our music or our artists.  We make it a point to be 90% or more familiar to a non-CCM listening audience during the Christmas season.  This means we’re playing a lot of classic Christmas songs and covers.  We will play a few new, original Christmas songs by CCM artists, but they’ve got to sound like Christmas and really pop on air.  And you want to hold on to those people after the jingle bells stop jingling and into the new year.  December at KLTY is our time of year to really show the world who we are and why we do what we do.  We’re a kind, compassionate station with a heart for the Lord and our community.  We’re the antidote to the negativity on every other form of media.  We highlight our Christmas Wish campaign during this time where we give back to those in need across the metroplex.  We highlight some of our biggest songs that we play the rest of the year, with a snippet of the song. And while it may be an unfamiliar artist and an unfamiliar song we’ll equate it to a need we all have.  For example, we run a sweeper that will say “All year long, the music you need to be encouraged”, and play the hook from Zach Williams “Chain Breaker”.  Or “the music you need to be uplifted” and play “Known” by Tauren Wells.

What are the disadvantages?

There is a small portion of your P1’s that may seek CCM music elsewhere. If you’ve built your brand well enough the rest of the year, they’ll still tune in and out and will be back full time on December 26th.  Another thing you could do is provide another stream or an HD channel to carry your normal playlist.

When should you go all Christmas?

It depends on the market. In most markets, right after Thanksgiving is a great time to go all Christmas.  In some markets, it may be earlier.   We’ve gone earlier before to combat the other stations in DFW that go all Christmas but most years we go the week of Thanksgiving or so.  That is also when Christmas music listening really begins to increase.

If my station can’t afford Christmas music testing where can I find the top testing Christmas songs?

Stick with the hits.  Everyone loves the classic and you can’t go wrong with those. Look at what other stations are playing.  If you have access to Mediabase or BDS, check playlists from last season and current playlists and build your list around that. Don’t just look at CCM stations, look at the mainstream stations in your market.  It’s also very important that you’re looking at your market.  What works in Dallas may not work in Seattle, etc.

When there are multiple all Christmas stations playing the same safe list, where does differentiation come into play? And how?

We share Christmas music with a mainstream competitor (Star 102.1) and a CCM competitor (WayFM) but we do not share exact playlists.  We’ll play classic covers by our artists that Star wouldn’t play and we’ll play classic or fun Christmas songs that maybe WayFM wouldn’t play.  I would ask, how is your presentation?  How is the flow of your music?  Is it mostly familiar or unfamiliar?  If it’s only CCM artists and more new than familiar, who are you appealing to?  Also, what other things are you doing to promote your station?  Give back campaigns, like our Christmas Wish really showcase the hands and feet of Jesus that your station can provide to the community. Your mainstream competitors don’t do that, or if they try they don’t do it well. Which reminds me of a local mainstream station that attempted to copy our Christmas Wish campaign a few years ago.  They told a story of a man who had his car stolen and had to rely on a bicycle to bike 9 miles each way to work every day in the cold and rain.  When his bike got stolen he was in danger of losing his job.  So, the station got him a new car!  No, actually they got together with a local bike shop and got him a new bike. **face palm** So in reality, they had a bike shop that had money to spend if they gave away a bike, and that’s how they filled it.  Not very sentimental or heart felt.  They can’t do what we do!  You can also get an edge on your competition through digital marketing and contesting during this time.

If your market already has two or more outlets who are already well known for owning that lane, is there a point to being the third…the fourth…etc.?

That’s a great question.  Maybe not. In a market the size of DFW, we’ve been Christmas station #3 many years.  It has worked for us because of the size of the market. However, if you’re in a small market, a third station may not make sense.  We have done it consistently since 2005, no other DFW station has done that.  But if you think that even being #3 could get you enough new cume to hold over into January, perhaps it would be worth it for your station.

What about ramping up to all Christmas music later in the month?

I would ask what is your goal?  I tried ramping up in 2016 and 2017 and it backfired on us.  We had already lost the position by the time Black Friday came along. Get in early and you’ll get a lot of businesses to carry your station. You’ll get on the radar of folks before they take time off for Thanksgiving.  Mike Blakemore in Atlanta does a big Christmas music kickoff usually with an artist and a big community event.  I say make a big splash, go all in.  If you’re simply ramping up, then maybe don’t go all Christmas until the week of Christmas.

Only you know what is best for your station.  This info is to help you make those decisions you may already know you need to make.  Do what works for your station in your market.

Merry Christmas!

Mike Prendergast
Program Director, KLTY

Mike Prendergast, Program Director for Salem Dallas’ 94.9 KLTY has been with the station since 2005, serving as PD since 2009.  KLTY has long enjoyed success in Dallas/Fort Worth most recently achieving an overall #1 Persons 6+ this past October and setting a station record for share and another #1 this past January 2020.   Mike married his high school sweetheart Teresa 23 years ago and has two daughters, 18 & 16, the oldest about to head off to college.  When Mike is not working in Christian radio, he’s spending his time with family, with the Youth at church or trekking across the country seeking all kinds of severe weather including tornadoes, hurricanes, and thunderstorms.

Related posts

The team at 94.9 KLTY has served the Dallas/Fort Worth community for over 35 years. In 2020, the need was never greater. Through their local campaigns, Christmas Wish and Speak Love, they were able to assist many families who were impacted by not only the pandemic, but by hard times in general. The Speak Lovecampaign helped first responders, teachers, servers, food service staff, and many more within the community throughout the year. In 2020 94.9 KLTY’s Christmas Wish campaign brought Christmas joy to hundreds of families in the DFW area. They provided vehicles, food, toys, and other forms of relief to families in their community. They could not have reached any of these needs if not for their listeners and their generous donations to 94.9 KLTY’s nonprofit programs. In total, Speak Love and Christmas Wish raised more than $160,000 for those in need in Dallas/Fort Worth. They also recognized those sacrificial front-line workers and first responders who keep our community safe. Each week, 94.9 KLTY honored them, raised funds throughout the summer, and then presented each first responder with a check as a token of their gratitude. With countless families in need because of the pandemic, 94.9 KLTY also helped the Tarrant Area Food Bank distribute food essentials on multiple occasions in September, October, November. It is 94.9 KLTY’s sincere honor to serve our listeners in Dallas/Fort Worth.


LIFE 96.5 seeks to empower and serve the Sioux Falls area by reaching out in faith to help make it a better place to live and work. They want to lead their listeners to Jesus and help them grow in their faith through opportunities to love and serve others. In January 2020, LIFE 96.5 listeners donated over 950 brand new baby items during the Sioux Empire’s Largest Baby Shower. The Baby Shower grows every year, demonstrating their community’s love and support of the couples who are choosing life for their unborn children. LIFE 96.5 listeners, in partnership with Dacotah Bank, provided gift cards and cash donations to the Sioux Falls School District social workers to meet the needs of 1,000 homeless students. LIFE 96.5 also invited listeners to participate in a city-wide prayer parade, where they prayed for health care and government officials while driving past hospitals, schools, and city government offices. During the months of September and October 2020, LIFE 96.5 listeners provided over 250 twin sheet sets and 100 mattresses to the Sioux Falls Sleep in Heavenly Peace organization for children who are sleeping on floors. Through LIFE 96.5, listeners also made a difference in the lives of patients spending Christmas at Avera Behavioral Health Hospital. Each patient received a Christmas stocking filled with gifts and a note of encouragement. In addition, each Saturday morning LIFE 96.5 staff host Life Connection, a program featuring community leaders and discussing the needs and concerns of the Sioux Falls Community.


89.5 KVNE exists to glorify God by encouraging people, connecting their community, and pointing people to Jesus Christ. When their community was turned upside down by COVID, they knew they had to jump into action and mobilize their listeners to make a difference for Christ. To best serve their local community, KVNE held multiple drives to support local ministry partners and those most impacted by the pandemic. They collected 1,500 gift cards (totaling more than $15,000) to benefit those in need because of shutdowns, gathered over 12,000 diapers for foster families, and collected 150 care packages for senior citizens. They also collected 1,032 fans for the Salvation Army and over 1,000 pairs of shoes for kids heading back to school. Additionally, listeners donated 1,512 care packages for the homeless in East Texas, and KVNE hosted two blood drives to help those fighting the coronavirus. People across East Texas needed connection during the pandemic, so they organized a social media outreach, called Praise Defeats, a coordinated time where listeners shot videos of themselves singing “Raise A Hallelujah.” The videos were shared thousands of times, as they deepened their community’s connection. In addition, KVNE launched a Hispanic Christian music station (Fuzión), started a worship station (Lift Worship), and began a Bible Teaching Station (The Well) – all to help people grow in their faith. God allowed them to impact His Kingdom in profound ways and serve their local community powerfully during an unprecedented time when people needed hope like never before.


Since 1986, The JOY FM has made community service a hallmark of its ministry to listeners – first in Sarasota, and then expanding to Tampa, other Florida markets, and most recently to Atlanta and Middle Georgia. Even with this growth, community outreach remains hands-on, with legacy events like T-Shirts for Turkeys, which helped feed more than 28,700 families in all markets served last year. 2020 created new challenges for serving, so The JOY FM innovated several service projects to accommodate contactless delivery and social distancing. JOY Drop and Restock, a brand-new outreach, collected 30 tons of food to restock local food banks hit hard by the pandemic. Partnering with Natalie Grant and Hope for Justice, Team Freedom approached a grand total of $1,000,000 in 2020 to fight human trafficking. As listeners faced political rhetoric and serious questions about race and justice, as well as practical challenges like hybrid classrooms, The JOY FM programming (on terrestrial signals, as well as its LF Radio and JOY Worship platforms) responded with a recommitment to our mission of “Helping You Find JOY.” Resources for listeners, such as the Off Air with Carmen podcast, was provided to help listeners wrestle with big questions like Christian citizenship. Possibly The JOY FM’s most relevant community service effort for 2020 was prayer. The JOY FM’s Prayer and Crisis Referral service interacted with 620,936 listeners in need of prayer or help. Of those calls and texts, 4,949 listeners reported praying to place their faith in Jesus Christ.


“Hope Starts Here” is more than The Light FM’s tagline. It’s their mission. In 2020, they were intentional in regularly offering community-needed resources and hope-filled encouragement. They hosted their 5th annual Make a Difference training to encourage listeners to share God’s hope and saw 14 people begin a personal relationship with Jesus. The Light FM also visited eight local Law Enforcement agencies to share words of encouragement and care baskets. They partnered with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and artists of Winter Jam for a private concert and time of prayer with families battling pediatric cancer. The Light FM listeners from five different cities donated 258 wheelchairs, 262 crutches, 259 walkers, 71 transport chairs, and 66 canes to Wheels for the World, which brings mobility and the hope of Christ around the world. During stay-at-home orders, The Light FM began offering free monthly virtual events, including: a graduation ceremony, featuring artists and Bible teachers; a conference with Crown Financial on how to manage finances during the pandemic; Girl Talk LIVE, a women’s event with worship and Bible study; God’s Hope in Crisis training with chaplains of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team; a pastor appreciation event for local churches, featuring Chip Ingram and Matthew West; and a Family Christmas Night with live music, games, and a devotion from The Light FM staff. Even throughout the pandemic, The Light FM also found ways to be out in the public, safely, with six drive-in events featuring movies and live music.


2022 Membership Exclusives

January – 2022 Calendar
February – Mediabase Webinar
March – Social Series for Holy Week
April – Book
May – Virtual Radio Station Field Trip
June – Surprise at Momentum
July – Exclusive Momentum Content
August – Virtual Peer Networking Gathering
September – Fall Fun Box
October – Techsurvey Webinar
November – Noisemaker Promotions Vol 2 Book
December – Christmas Surprise 

*subject to change


Paul Cameron began his career in radio prior to graduating from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in 1980, starting his first job in 1979 as part-time on-air talent at WMKC 96.7FM (an adult contemporary station). In 1980 Paul moved to part-time on-air talent for WHBY-AM 1230 (a news/talk station), and while still working there, began working part-time for WEMI 100.1FM. In 1981, he went full-time for WEMI and over the years served as program director, music director, station manager, and director of radio operations. In 2002 he assumed the role of executive director and general manager for Christian Family Radio, now known as The Family Radio Network. Since 2016 Paul has been chief operating officer and afternoon on-air host. He was part of the transition from one full power station to five full power stations and six translators, all in Wisconsin. Paul has given back to his community by serving on several local boards in various capacities, including The Emergency Shelter of Appleton, The Community Clothes Closet of Menasha, and Loaves and Fishes of the Fox Valley. He also serves on the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Board of Directors and has been a fundraiser host with ShareMedia/Dunham+Company since 2002.


Rob Dempsey has been serving the HIS Radio Network listeners faithfully since 2000, currently working as operations manager and morning show co-host on the HIS Morning Crew with Rob & Lizz. Rob worked as a security guard at television studios for the Home Shopping Network before he was called into the radio ministry. Now, Rob’s personal stories of overcoming obstacles, walking through a long journey to health, and stepping out in faith and selflessness inspire his listeners. Some know him as the guy who lost 140 pounds to overcome obesity, others know him as the 16-year-old kid kicked out of his home to live in the streets, and others know him as being a foster and adoptive parent. Rob and his wife’s kids range from a 34-year-old war hero, 25-year-old social media marketing specialist, 19-year-old honors college student, a 12-year-old they adopted in November 2009, as well as many foster children throughout the last 9 years. Recently, Rob has been on a health journey which included two surgeries, one a major reconstructive surgery. These past two years have been a challenge for Rob, but he continues to show that through God, anyone can become an overcomer.


Since 1989, Mike Harper has faithfully impacted East Texas on-the-air at 89.5 KVNE, where he serves as VP Communications and morning show host. He began as a volunteer weekend DJ, driving from 90 miles away. Mike advanced the cause of Christian radio by serving several years on the steering committee for CMB, and he has taken part in every NCRS/CMB since 1999. According to Nielsen, Mike and Carrie in the Morning has been the #1 Morning Show for a decade (#1 Persons 12+) propelling KVNE as high as an 8.3 share and helping KVNE become the #1 rated station in the Tyler/Longview market. During that time, KVNE won 8 Station of the Year Awards (CMB & NRB). Additionally, Mike and his co-host Carrie Parsons have been awarded “Best Morning Show in East Texas” for 9 years in a row. Mike has shaved his head to reach a pledge drive goal, donned white tights and a cape “for the children,” and stood on top of a building during a remote broadcast. He has daily arrived faithfully at 5:00 am and braved ice, snow, hail, and tornados in an effort to keep his listeners safe, encourage them, and point them to Jesus.


Bryan O’Neal has spent a lifetime entertaining, encouraging, and spreading God’s love to millions over the airwaves, landing his first radio job in 1972 in mainstream Top 40 radio. In 1978 Bryan hosted and produced Portland’s first CCM’s 30-minute radio show on Top 40 62-KGW. He then teamed up with his good friend Bob Anthony to plan a full-time CCM station in Santa Rosa. Eventually that station became K-LOVE. After K-LOVE moved to Sacramento, Bryan became their full-time employee #13 in 1994. In 1998 Bryan worked as the program director for another CCM station, KPAM/Pamplin Media. In 2001 Bryan teamed up once again with Bob Anthony at EMF’s Air1. Bryan was instrumental in moving Air1’s entire Portland staff to the new building in Rocklin, where he worked as operations director and then program director. In 2005 Bryan worked a short stint at KTSL in Spokane, and then became the music director and afternoon host at 89.7 KSGN in Redlands, California. Bryan O’Neal has worked as the program director at KSGN and co-host with Brandi Lanai for nearly 10 years of Bryan and Brandi in the Morning. Bryan hung up his headphones for retirement in March of 2021.


Bill Scott is one of the founders of Vidare Creative, a fundraising consulting company which helps Christian radio stations, through their 365 plan concept, raise the funds they need to grow. Bill has been a part of Christian radio for 39 years. He’s worked at WCIE, The JOY FM, and WAY FM as a production director, on-air talent, program director, and station manager. Bill co-hosted Dawson McCallister Live, which aired on 500 radio stations each weekend. Bill began ZJAM, a syndicated show that aired on 350 stations in the USA, Canada, the UK, and Guatemala each weekend. Bill’s latest show was Xtreme Talk Live, airing each Sunday night on over 200 radio stations. Bill has hosted 700 fundraisers on Christian radio in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Bill also runs Men of Radio, a Facebook group with over 600 men from Christian radio. For the past three years, he has hosted the Men of Radio Winter Retreat in McCall, Idaho, with the focus of getting to know other men on Christian radio so they can walk through life together. Bill Scott believes passionately in Christian radio, and he has dedicated his life to see it grow.