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Too Early For Christmas? Not In L.A., Chicago, Denver and Phoenix.

Santa Claus Lane is backing up with gridlock as stations continue to make the change to all-Christmas music. Los Angeles, Chicago, Phoenix and Denver get their holiday fix today, as KOST, WLIT-FM and KESZ all flip the switch. This follows Christmas pop-up stations in Dallas, Portland, Panama City and Honolulu, that debuted earlier this week.

iHeartMedia AC “93.9 Lite FM” WLIT-FM Chicago will make its annual flip to all-Christmas today at 4pm.

“As the world spins into even more uncertain times, the holiday spirit is more important today than ever before,” iHeartMedia Chicago President Matt Scarano said in a statement. Program Director and afternoon host Mike Lee added, “Listeners can count on us to help spread joy, hope and love across the city as we celebrate 20 years. We’ll have fun contests, a few new surprises, and of course, the wonderful holiday music.”

As earlier reported by Inside Radio, iHeart’s KOST Los Angeles and KESZ Phoenix will also go all-Christmas music today as will Bonneville AC KOSI Denver (101.1), which will flip at 12pm local time, marking its 19th year playing holiday hits this season.

Program Director Jim Lawson says the station could have gone Christmas crazy months ago. “We’ve had listeners asking us to change to Christmas music since Labor Day” he reveals. “2020 has been a stressful year for everyone, and the time is right to help Denver feel good.”

iHeartMedia AC “Star 102” KDGE Dallas made the move on Thursday, Nov. 5 at 8am, broadcasting non-stop seasonal favorites with the positioner “Your Home for the Holidays.” Program Director Jay Shannon remarked, “This year has not been easy, and we were ready to bring some joy and happiness to all of our Dallas/Fort Worth listeners with non-stop holiday music.”

Joining KDGE on Thursday was AC sister “K103” KKCW Portland, which like WLIT-FM, makes the annual flip to all-Christmas for the 20th consecutive year. “K103 is honored to once again become Portland’s Christmas Station this year,” Program Director Michael La Crosse said in a release. “Our audience has always made listening to all Christmas music on K103 part of their holiday traditions. We’re humbled every year by the number of people who welcome us into their lives, but even more so this year.”

iHeartMedia’s flagship AC outlet, “106.7 Lite FM” WLTW New York, is waiting until Friday, Nov. 13 at 5pm to pull the trigger. “Then, at 7pm, watch our first-ever ‘Holiday Lite Show,’” a web posting announces. “This hour long special will include appearances by Carrie Underwood, Jewel, Matt Nathanson, Pat Monahan of Train and Josh Groban, followed by a drone light show synced to Carrie Underwood’s new holiday music.”

The holiday wave has hit the island state of Hawaii with Pacific Media Group soft AC “105.9 The Wave” KPOI-FM wishing the market a Mele Kalikimaka. It’s the first time the station enters the all-Christmas fray as KPOI-FM flipped from modern rock to its current format in May.

“Our growing listener base enjoys the positive, calming escape that The Wave provides,” Director of Programming Kelsey Yogi said in a release. “The pandemic may have put a hold on many events but it won't stop us from celebrating cherished, holiday moments with our resilient community.”

KPOI-FM is the exclusive radio partner for the “2020 Make-A-Wish Hawaii’s Jingle Rock Ride” and will provide the soundtrack as fundraising participants visit the holiday light displays on Oahu on Dec. 13.

Another sunny destination, Panama City, FL has a country Christmas outlet as Magic Broadcasting’s “Wild Willie 100” WWLY is focusing on holiday classics from country artists.

As more and more stations get a jump-start on the ratings magnet format, many consumers appear to be more than ready for the sounds of the season. Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” saw a streaming surge on Nov. 1 and 2. According to Nielsen Music/MRC Data, the song racked-up 1.14 million on-demand streams in the U.S. on Sunday and Monday. That’s up 160% from the 715k streams the holiday classic had on Oct. 30 and 31.

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