Hearne: Who’s Gonna Play Christmas Music Now That KUDL & Star 102 Are History?

One of Kansas City’s most fleeting, yet wildly profitable radio formats appears to have gone homeless…

For years adult contemporary stations Star 102 and KUDL FM duked it out for the hearts and ears of lovers of 24/7 Christmas music. Star led the way under former main man Jon Zellner. Entercom followed on KUDL, resulting in year after year of Christmas music warfare between the stations.

And while the day after Thanksgiving was good enough to start, competition between the stations resulted in earlier and earlier launch dates for the holiday music format. The idea being that whoever got there first would lock in more listeners.

Four years ago on Halloween day I bade readers both Trick or Treat and Happy Thanksgiving.

"Enjoy those fleeting holiday sentiments while you can, because any second the Christmas Music Elves at KUDL-FM and Star 102 may break out the holiday cheer in the form of 24/7 Santa songs," I warned. "Last year KUDL led off the yule parade the day after Halloween. Star 102 held off for a couple of weeks and paid the price. Both stations fared well, but KUDL was the clear ratings winner."

However, times have changed…

For the first time since the Christmas Music Wars began the warring stations are no more.

Both Star 102 and KUDL are history. Wilks Broadcasting put Star out to pasture last year and ressurected it as an adult alternative station that goes by Alice. Entercom followed, pulling the plug on KUDL this spring, using its FM signal to simulcast NewsRadio KMBZ.

"What’s going to happen to Christmas music," wonders former Entercom head Bob Zuroweste. "Who the hell is gonna do Christmas music?"

Good question. Here are a few of the options…

KUDL’s out, unless Entercom decides to slap Santa suits on Mike Shanin and Scott Parks and have ’em wail away like Captain Kirk. So cross that off the list of possibilities.

Alice could happen, but the station’s still trying to carve out its new identity and a couple of months of Jingle Bell Rock might be a bit much for its theoretically hipper listeners. Unless, of course, Cumulus competitor Jack FM decides to enter the fray. Then they’d both totally make sense.

And clearly there’s a ton of dough on the table for the station that pulls off the Christmas coup.

Another candidate; 94.9 KCMO, the station formerly known as "Oldies."

"Why wouldn’t they do it?" asks one radio insider. "It’s an older demo and they could sell the shit out of it."

Another possibility?

"I’ve heard that KFKF is gonna do it," the insider says.

And of course, there’s always KUDL’s successor, The Point 99.7 FM.

While The Point is looking for younger listeners, it doubtless could benefit from the Christmas music sweet spot of women listeners ages 35 to 54.

So here’s the bottom line, Christmas music lovers:

"There’s a huge listenership for Christmas music," Zuroweste says. "One out of five people in Kansas City listened to Christmas music on the radio last year and here we are today and we don’t even know who’s going to play it. If I was going to to be playing Christmas music, I’d be out selling it right now. We used to start selling it on KUDL in August."

One thing’s for sure; whichever station decides to go Xmas will telegraph its holiday punch once it unleashes its sales staff. Then we’ll find out which if any station follows.

Let the caroling begin…

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27 Responses to Hearne: Who’s Gonna Play Christmas Music Now That KUDL & Star 102 Are History?

  1. Super Dave says:

    Let The Point Do It
    Might as well be The Point it’s ratings suck anyway couldn’t hurt it anymore.

    I am sure in a about 3 -4 weeks we will know.

  2. Scrooge says:

    Humbug
    Christmas is canceled this year.

    There will be no presents exchanged, no goodwill shown towards fellow man and no happiness felt. There will be nothing but the ever deepening dark pit of dispair into which everyone will jump or be thrown, thus extinguishing this plane of existence, and not a moment to soon.

  3. harley says:

    GREAT ARTICLE HEARNE
    another classic. Who will play xmas music. Is it station1/23/4/5/6/7…lots of important information to spew out.
    Lets see…time for another b.s. article on the crowd at kauffman center. Who will we quote now that the corn dog
    people counter is outed. Let’s go to the hobos at I35 and Broadway exit for their expert opinion. Maybe go under the
    broadway bridge to see whatthey say about the music….
    more garbage…shows how far you’ve slipped since the star canned you….great work (lol)

  4. chuck says:

    I like the American Christmas classic picture.
    The sights and sounds of Christmas in the recession.

    The kids bringin in a huge spleef of Belyondo Spruce, to hand upside down in the barn, while Grammy heats up some bush whiskey to warm thier hearts and hands when they come back inside.

    That dude in the Christmas sweater is baked completely outta his skull.

  5. rj says:

    yup, it’s kfkf.

  6. Orphan of the Road says:

    No Christmas for KC Confidential
    Can’t seem to find three wise men nor a virgin…

    All the streets are filled with laughter and light
    And the music of the season
    And the merchants’ windows are all bright
    With the faces of the children
    And the families hurrying to their homes
    As the sky darkens and freezes
    They’ll be gathering around the hearths and tales
    Giving thanks for all god’s graces
    And the birth of the rebel jesus
    [ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/j/jackson+browne/the+rebel+jesus_20068653.html ]
    Well they call him by the prince of peace
    And they call him by the savior
    And they pray to him upon the seas
    And in every bold endeavor
    As they fill his churches with their pride and gold
    And their faith in him increases
    But they’ve turned the nature that I worshipped in
    From a temple to a robber’s den
    In the words of the rebel jesus

    We guard our world with locks and guns
    And we guard our fine possessions
    And once a year when christmas comes
    We give to our relations
    And perhaps we give a little to the poor
    If the generosity should seize us
    But if any one of us should interfere
    In the business of why they are poor
    They get the same as the rebel jesus

    But please forgive me if I seem
    To take the tone of judgement
    For I’ve no wish to come between
    This day and your enjoyment
    In this life of hardship and of earthly toil
    We have need for anything that frees us
    So I bid you pleasure
    And I bid you cheer
    From a heathen and a pagan
    On the side of the rebel jesus.

  7. mark smith says:

    KCC named Top Website in the Universe because I said so
    Totally unrelated to your xmas post, I celebrate Kwanza and Festivus. Hearne you should take a gander at your sites version of Studs Terkel and his response to my inquiring, respectfully I might add, as to who named Stanfords Top Comedy Club. He called me a moron for asking. He also refuses to answer the question. Through the powers of google Ive deduced that your boy is as full of shit as a christmas goose. I take the time to read his tripe, the least you could do as editor in chief is make your writers follow the basic rules of writing. Ive slowly become a regular reader, even started to give glazer some slack, benifit of doubt. Surley you cant approve unsubstantiated claims and unwarranted attacks on the people who take time out to visit your site. Harley not included.

  8. mark smith says:

    and stop calling me shirley
    I meant surely not surley

  9. Hearne says:

    rj is right!
    Just confirmed that KFKF has sales packages “on the street” and is telling ad buyers to look for a November 1st launch.

    The $64 million question: will the country station have the entire Christmas Music market to itself this year like Zellner’s Star 102 did in the beginning?

    Or will Entercom fire back, perhaps on its competing country station, WDAF 106.5 The Wolf

  10. Robertoe says:

    where’s the like button?
    I want to hit it for the Mark Smith comment. Oh that’s right. Any technology evolution is not possible here. The like buttons will come after that promised automatic hotlink feature…in other words never.

  11. HARLEY says:

    robertoe…whats up with you?
    you tried to hit on mermaid…what happened….now you got glaze all pissed at ya….

  12. Rick says:

    SAD
    So i guess this means by Longview Lake fireworks display which has been a long tradition is off??? Christmas in the Park.

  13. kcfred says:

    To Chuck
    That dude isn’t baked, he’s gayer than Freddie Mercury (RIP).

  14. Hearne Christopher says:

    No, I think Christmas will continue with or without a local Christmas station. But check my comment above; KFKF is indeed out selling ads and telling people it will happen Nov. 1

    The question is if Entercom and/or Cumulus will let them have the market all to themselves. With KUDL out of the picture for the first time in almost ever, having the exclusive on Xmas music is almost too good to be true

  15. Hearne Christopher says:

    Funny you should mention Freddy. Check out Matt Donnelly’s SKC column.

  16. smartman says:

    Kuntry Krizmus?
    Great! A bunch of inbred redneck Appalachian Trail hikin’, Ned Beatty sodomizin’, banjo and fiddle playin’ F-150 drivin’, chicken fried steak and mashed taters fer supper eatin, moonshine makin’, boy and girl hillbilly yodelers on the air for sixty-days.

    Cuz the KFKF crowd’ll shit they WalMart britches if they play any Kenny G, Celine Dion or Nat King Cole.

    Nothin’ says Christmas to me like the Judds singing Silent Night or that Kenny Chesney and Reba duet of Do You Hear What I Hear.

    Thank You Jesus, Thank You Lord for satellite radio

  17. Orphan of the Road says:

    A green Christmas
    STAN FREEBERG wrote it best

    SCROOGE: (SINGING) Bah, humbug, everybody.
    CHORUS: Good morning, Mr. Scrooge!
    SCROOGE: Well, the meeting will come to order, if you please. Are all the advertising people represented here?
    CHORUS: Everyone except Amalgamated Cheese!
    MUSIC: OUT

    SCROOGE: Well, if they’re not here for the Christmas pitch, I can’t help them find new ways of tying their product in to Christmas. That’s why I’m chairman
    of this board! Let’s hear it for me!
    CHORUS: Hear, hear!
    SCROOGE: All right, Abercrombie, what are your people up to?
    ABERCROMBIE: Ahhh, same thing as every year. Fifty thousand billboards showing Santa Claus pausing to refresh himself with our product.
    SCROOGE: Mmmmm, hmmm, well, I think the public has come to expect that and . . .
    ABERCROMBIE: That’s right. It’s become tradition!
    SCROOGE: You there, Crass, uhh, I suppose your company’s running the usual magazine ads showing cartons of your cigarettes peeking out of the top of Santa’s sack?
    CRASS: Better than that! This year we have him smoking one.
    SCROOGE: Um-hmmm…
    CRASS: Yes. We’ve got Santa a little more rugged, too. Both sleeves rolled up and a tattoo on each arm. One of ’em says “Merry Christmas.”
    SCROOGE: What does the other one say?
    CRASS: “Less tar!”
    SCROOGE: Great stuff!
    CRATCHET: But Mr.Scrooge…
    SCROOGE: What? Who are you?
    CRATCHET: Bob Cratchet, sir. I’ve got a little spice company over in East Orange, New Jersey. Do I have to tie my product in to Christmas?
    SCROOGE: What do you mean?
    CRATCHET: Well, I was just going to send cards out showing the three wise men following the Star of Bethlehem…
    SCROOGE: I get it! And they’re bearing your spices. Now that’s perfect.
    CRATCHET: No, no… no product in it. I was just going to say, “Peace on Earth… Good Will Toward Men.”
    VOICES: MUMBLING IN BACKGROUND
    MAN: Well, that’s a peculiar slogan!
    SCROOGE: Old hat, Cratchet! That went out with button shoes! You’re a businessman . . . Christmas is something to take advantage of!
    MUSIC: PUNCTUATES
    SCROOGE: A red and green bandwagon to jump on!
    MUSIC: PUNCTUATES
    SCROOGE: A sentimental shot in the arm for sales! Listen!

    MUSIC: CYMBAL CRASH
    CHORUS: Deck the halls with advertising,
    Fa la la la la la la la la.
    While you can be enterprising,
    Fa la la la la la la la la.
    On the fourth day of Christmas,
    My true love gave to me
    Four bars of soap,
    Three cans of peas,
    Two breakfast foods,
    And some toothpaste on a pear tree!
    On the fifth day of Christmas,
    My true love gave to me. . .
    SCROOGE: Five tube-less tires!
    CHORUS: Fo-ur quarts of gin,
    Three ci-gars,
    Two cig-ar-ettes,
    And some hair tonic on a pear tree!
    (TEMPO CHANGES ROMANTICALLY)
    Chest-nuts roasting. . .
    ANNOUNCER: Sayyyy, Mother, as sure as there’s an X in Christmas, you can be sure those are Tiny Tim Chestnuts roasting. Tin-y Tim Chestnuts are frill-bodied . . . longer lasting! This visible shell . . .
    SOUND: KNOCK-KNOCK
    ANNOUNCER: …protects the nut! Now with X-K 29 added, for people who can’t roast after every meal.
    GIRL TRIO: Tin-ee Tim! Tin-ee Tim! Chest-nuts all the way!
    ANNOUNCER: Tin-y Tim’s roast hot… like a chestnut ought! And.. . they are
    (ECHO) mild, mild, mild, mild.
    ORCHESTRA: PUNCTUATES

    CHORUS: Deck the halls with advertising,
    Fa la la la la la la la la.
    ‘Tis the time for merchandising,
    Fa la la la la la la la la.
    Profit never needs a reason,
    Fa la la la la la la la la.
    Get the money, it’s the season,
    Fa la la la la la la la la.

    SCROOGE: Words to live by, Cratchet!
    CRATCHET: For you, maybe. Can’t you just wish someone merry Christmas, for the pure joy of doing it?
    SCROOGE: Why? What’s the percentage in that? Let me show you how to make Christmas work for you!

    CHORUS: We wish you a merry Christmas,
    We wish you a merry Christmas,
    We wish you a merry Christmas,
    And please buy our beer!

    SCROOGE: There you go, Cratchet! That’s Christmas with a purpose.
    CRATCHET: I know, but wait a minute. Don’t you guys make enough profit the other eleven months? Christmas comes but once a year.
    SCROOGE: Humph! Funny thing you should bring that up. That’s exactly the point I was about to make. Hit it, boys!

    SCROOGE: Christmas comes but once a year,
    So you better make hay while the snow is falling,
    That’s opportunity calling you!
    CHORUS: Rub your hands, December’s here,
    What a wonderful time to be Glad and merry!
    SCROOGE: Just so you’re mercenary too!
    CHORUS: Buy an ad and show all the toys,
    Show all the toys up on the shelf
    SCROOGE: Just make sure that you get a plug,
    You get a plug, In for yourself!
    SCROOGE AND CHORUS:
    Christmas comes but once a year,
    So you better cash in,
    While the spirit lingers,
    It’s slipping through your fingers,
    Boy! Don’t you realize
    Christmas can be such a
    Monetary joy!

    CRATCHET: Well, I guess you fellows will never change.
    SCROOGE: Why should we? Christmas has two s’s in it, and they’re both dollar signs.
    CRATCHET: Yeah, but they weren’t there to begin with.
    SCROOGE: Eh?
    CRATCHET: The people keep hoping you’ll remember. But you never do.
    SCROOGE: Remember what?

    CRATCHET: Whose birthday we’re celebrating.
    SCROOGE: Well, ……. don’t get me wrong. The story of Christmas, in its simplicity, is a good thing – I’ll buy that. It’s just that we know a good thing when we see it.
    CRATCHET: But don’t you realize Christmas has a significance, a meaning.
    SCROOGE: A sales curve! Wake up, Cratchet, it’s later than you think.
    CRATCHET: I know, Mr. Scrooge, I know.
    CHORUS: On the first day of Christmas,
    The advertising’s there, with
    Newspaper ads,
    Billboards too,
    Business Christmas cards,
    And commercials on a pear tree. . .
    Jingles here, jingles there,
    Jingles all the way.
    Dashing through the snow,
    In a fifty-foot coup-e
    O’er the fields we go,
    Selling all the way. . .
    Deck the halls with advertising,
    What’s the use of compromising,
    Fa la la la la la la la la.

    MUSIC: AS TRADITIONAL HYMNS ATTEMPT TO BREAK THROUGH THE MUSICAL ENDING, IT BUILDS TO A CRESCENDO. WE HEAR “JINGLE BELLS” PUNCTUATED WITH THE SOUND OF A CASH REGISTER RINGING UP SALES. ON THE LAST NOTE OF THE MUSIC, WE HEAR MONEY DROPPING IN AND THE CASH REGISTER SLAMMING SHUT!

    Well they call him by ‘the Prince of Peace’
    And they call him by ‘the Savior’
    And they pray to him upon the seas
    And in every bold endeavor
    And they fill his churches with their pride and gold
    As their faith in him increases
    But they’ve turned the nature that I worship in
    From a temple to a robber’s den
    In the words of the rebel Jesus

  18. chuck says:

    A zealot
    the rebel Jesus was.

  19. BlackJack says:

    Who the hell cares
    Seriously, any christmas music played outside of December 10-25 is too much. Is there anything more repetitive and monotonous than the same old canned remakes being played on an endless loop. I guess you need to cater to the blue-haired crowd and middle-aged housewives.

  20. Hearne Christopher says:

    I’m with you, but this radio xmas music thing is a national phenom. Really. Tons of dough.

    Look, I travel mostly by car on kid vacations and I can’t tell you how many year round Christmas shops and boutiques I see. Maybe it’s an escape. Especially in this economy, this geopolitical world.

    This entire country thrives on holidays and the escape they provide. The grocery stores tell the tale.

    Halloween displays in August.

  21. Rick says:

    Thanks Hearne
    for the info. I’m already starting to hear Santa Baby and Grandma Got Ran Over in my mind.

  22. Hearne Christopher says:

    Try to keep it together, man. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner!

  23. Pengala says:

    KFKF Christmas
    It will be Christmas music but only starting the day after Thanksgiving. And even then if the weather holds up this indian summer they’ll push it back. There will be no marketing money on KFKF for this, only as much as they can muster through their own guerilla efforts. Entercom and Cumulus won’t play ball because there really is nothing in it for them. Yes there’s revenue but it’s not real revenue. KCMO can make some dough and keep their precious listenership by NOT going all-Christmas but they can still embrace the essence of the season and not have to abandon their format to do it.

  24. Bryce says:

    FANTASTIC!!!
    Thanks for the info! I can’t wait for it to start. Two months of christmas music is a perfect amount of time to bring a little bit of joy and happiness. If you look people are just in a better mode this time of year. I know not everyone feels my sentiment but it is a great Kansas City tradition. And you know like any good business man they aren’t going to let a dollar let alone some change slip by without getting a hand in it. Thanks so much!

  25. DMILL says:

    November 17, 2011
    There’s no Christmas music anywhere in Kansas City. We’re now the town that Christmas forgot. So depressing.

  26. GMomma says:

    Where is the christmas music?
    105.5 (St joseph station) is playing continuous christmas music i think

  27. Christmas Spirit says:

    Christmas Spirit sadly lacking this year.
    I miss KUDL and Dan Hearst! Who’s helping all the families they always helped each Christmas? I’ve about quit listening to the radio as I can’t find a station I like anymore! No Christmas music, No Christmas spirit! It’s like the anti-Christmas has taken over all the radio stations. I’ve maybe heard 4 song all season! Thank heaven for cds, but I miss hearing the new songs on the radio.

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