Sleighbells ring – are you listening?
That's a pertinent question in at least 15 major markets, where two or more Christmas-formatted stations are competing for listeners this holiday season. In three of those 15, three stations are going antler-to-antler.
The largest market with a trio of Santa-casters is Seattle, where the Christmas hits leader and once-double-digit December champ, Hubbard Radio adult contemporary “Warm 106.9” KRWM, has since 2020 been challenged by Crista Media contemporary Christian “Spirit 105.3” KCMS and Audacy soft AC “94.1 The Sound” KSWD. A fourth flipper last year, Lotus Communications hot AC “Star 101.5” KPLZ, has dropped out of the race for 2022.
It's also a three-Santa situation in Cleveland and Milwaukee. The former market pits iHeart classic hits “Majic 105.7” WMJI against Audacy AC “Star 102” WDOK and Salem Media Group contemporary Christian “95.5 The Fish” WFHM, while in the Cream City, it's iHeart classic hits “95.7 Big FM” WRIT vs. Milwaukee Radio Alliance AC “B93.3” WLDB and Saga oldies “Pure Oldies 106.9” WRXS.
In both of Nielsen's top 10 Texas-based PPM markets, it's an iHeartMedia AC vs. a contemporary Christian outlet, with the former having maintained a double-digit share in both markets. In Dallas, “Star 102.1” KDGE's persons 6+ share more than doubled that of Salem Media Group's KLTY during last year's Holiday measurement period, while in Houston “Sunny 99” KODA's delivery was nearly twice that of Hope Media Group's KSBJ.
The only other top-20 market with more than one Christmas music station is Tampa, where it's been a close race since iHeart AC “Mix 100.7” WMTX began challenging longtime market leader Cox Media Group soft AC WDUV in 2019. The latter remained in front by 2.3 share points last year, but just 0.8 two years ago.
AC and classic hits outlets go head-to-head in Pittsburgh, Columbus and New Orleans, while like the Texas markets, it's between an AC and a contemporary Christian station in Portland, Sacramento, Cincinnati and Nashville. In Charlotte, adult hits gets into the game with iHeart's “102.9 The Lake” WLKO up against Beasley Media Group AC “K104.7” WKQC. In the only top-50-market merry matchup without a pure AC outlet in the format, Bonneville soft AC “FM 100.3” KSFI and iHeart hot AC “My 99.5” KJMY are battling Santas in Salt Lake City.