Radio stations play Christmas music in March amid coronavirus

0 2 weeks ago


In Detroit, radio station WNIC is known for playing holiday favorites, such as “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and “Last Christmas,” all through the season, as early as the beginning of November. But this year, they started in March.

Jay Towers, the station’s music director and morning show host, tells Yahoo Entertainment that the gesture is meant to bring people some joy during the stressful time of the coronavirus health crisis. It’s one of several places turning to Christmas tunes during a supremely stressful time.

“We just do it twice a day, at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., and it’s like eight minutes, it’s three songs,” Towers explains. “It might be like Mariah Carey and Burl Ives and ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ from Bobby Helms, so three songs, twice a day. The reaction has been incredible. Christmas music strikes an emotion with people.”

He says it’s a fun distraction while so many are at home that people seem to appreciate.

“We hear from nurses. We hear it from doctors, parents, I mean, people that are there in hospitals,” Towers says. “It’s something they look forward to. We get tons of messages every day, so I think it’s good. I think it’s a positive. It’s not overwhelming, it’s not too in your face, it’s just twice a day. 

Phoenix’s 99.9 KEZ had the same idea, citing listener requests, too.

“Several KEZ listeners have reached out by email, phone, and social media to request to bring back some Christmas Music during this very odd and somewhat scary time,” the station’s website read. “Maybe it helps you entertain the kids…maybe it inspires you to put your Christmas lights back up to spread cheer to your neighbors…or maybe it gives you a bit of peace, comfort and hope. We’re all trying to figure out what we can do, and we hope that playing KEZ Christmas Music on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday helps in some way.”

The jolly tunes will play from 7 p.m. to midnight on March 27-29.

A spokeswoman for iHeartMedia, which owns more than 850 radio properties across the country, which listeners can stream on the iHeartRadio app, says some of its stations have “sprinkled in” some holiday cheer during the health crisis.

On March 23, they all aired a version of the song most associated with another holiday — Independence Day — when they played the national anthem at 12 p.m. ET. (In other special programming, the network has announced the charity event “iHeart Living Room Concert for America,” featuring Elton John, Alicia Keys, Billie Eilish and more, performing from their homes in a tribute to front line health professionals and first responders at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT March 29.)

Over at Pandora, a spokesman notes that they’ve created special stations for people to listen to while they’re hunkered down, including Pandora’s Top Live Songs, featuring a ranking of the top 100 most-streamed live tracks on the service, featuring Fleetwood Mac, Keys and John Mayer; Homemade Hits: Songs From Bedrooms and Basements; and Let’s… Stay In!

As for the early Christmas music, it will be welcomed by the same people who tuned in to see the Hallmark Channel air some of its popular holiday movies last weekend and have already strung up lights.

For the latest news on the evolving coronavirus outbreak, follow along here. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC and WHO’s resource guides. 

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