Five programming considerations for holiday programming
The year is winding down and you’re counting the days until the Holiday break. The ratings period is over, and you have a couple of weeks to relax. Most of the staff wants time off, 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 your 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, you have an opportunity to gain some ground during holiday vacations.
Holiday Vacations Considerations
There’s no doubt that listening attention is not as high during the holidays, but there are several reasons to program your station aggressively:
Other Stations Are Coasting
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 all the other high profile personality shows are running their tired best-of shows, program your recycled content to sound live! There may be fewer listeners available, but many listeners will be pushing buttons. Make it easy to find their new favourite radio show.
Pre-Christmas Programming Strength
If your station has momentum going into the holiday, don’t let it slip away. Capitalize on that Christmas promotion momentum with phase 2. You can pre-promote it this week, then introduce your plan for the new year.
Maybe you went all-Christmas music. If you don’t convert that attention into listening on December 26, you probably have missed the opportunity to turn that inflated cume into new fans. If you think their dial will still be on your frequency in the new year, think again. Most listeners fall back into their regular patterns quickly, unless there’s a good reason to continue listening to your station.
Forward Momentum Counts
While most of your team may be in vacation mode, don’t let the audience-or your staff-feel you’re coasting.
Promote internally to the staff so they’re excited about coming back after the break. As a program director, you have two audiences: your listeners and your staff. This is a great week to promote what is coming next week.
Build anticipation for your upcoming plans, and even include them in promos to get them involved going into the new year.
Thank Your Listeners
If you don’t have a major promotion that last week of the year, and nothing to pre-sell going into the new year, use the week to thank your audience while taking credit for the great things you’ve done in the past year. Be careful to present it as a current promo that sounds fresh and new, not a “looking back on” campaign.
Use technology to your advantage 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 favours. It sounded live and exciting. And it was fun for the staff.
You can do the same for countdown shows on New Year’s Day, and other specialty shows planned during this special time of year.
Holiday Vacations Conclusions
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.
Tracy Johnson specializes in radio talent coaching, radio consulting for programming and promotions and developing digital strategies for brands.