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December 25, 2022 12:18 pm  #1

An Xmas Day Trip Through The Local Radio Dial

Christmas Day is the dullest on radio, with just about every staff member off for the holiday. I'm always curious what stations choose to air that is different from their regular formats at this time of year. So I spent brief bits of two hours between 8 - 10 AM Xmas morning tuning around just to see what everyone was doing. 

I picked representative stations, so not everyone is included. What I found was that many are incorporating the holiday into their regular playlists, while some have gone non-stop Yule - including a few you might not expect. 

For instance, I never thought Indie 88.1 would be doing an Xmas special, but there it was. I expected Flow to go with their music flow, but instead, they've also appear to be programming nothing but holiday tunes. Same with Vibe 105.5, which seems to have found a way to be celebrating a Caribbean Christmas. CHUM-FM is also all Yule all the time, which definitely doesn't fit their usual setlist. 

Some other finds:

-CBC Radio 1 and CBC Music at 94.1 were both simulcasting the same holiday music, with the feed on 99.1 slightly ahead of the one airing down the dial. 

-The following were mostly sticking to their regular music mix, with some Christmas tunes thrown in for good measure: Jazz 91.1, 93.5 Today Radio, 92.5 Kiss-FM and 94.9 The Rock, while KX 95.9 had a country Christmas and Boom 97.3 featured classic Yule from the 70s, 80s and 90s.

-Many others on the stereo side were hybrids. But some stuck to their regular roots, with no real holiday hints. Among them: 95.3 Energy FM, 97.7 HTZ FM, CFNY and Q107. 

The AM side was even more interesting to me. 

-The Fan 590 was taking CBS Radio Sports. But at least it was live. The same with TSN 1050, although they were using ESPN Radio. Neither had a lot of local content for Toronto sports fans. 

-CKTB & AM640 each decided old time radio would fill the gap, although it must have thrown the latter's timing off slightly. How else to explain a newscast airing at 10:15 AM?

-CHML, AM 740, and even the not-really-officially-on-the-air yet CFAJ St. Catharines were wall to wall Xmas. 

-So was CFRB, which completely abandoned the gab for a pre-recorded (although hosted) network Christmas music special that threatened to go on all day. It was on the iHeart Radio Talk Network, although there was actually almost no Talk.  

-At least Funny 820 was still spewing out the automated laughs, for those who were tired of the holiday hype. 

But there were a few exceptions that really surprised me. 

-Greg Carrasco was probably the only one truly going live and local on Sauga960, which frankly I wasn't expecting. 

-WBEN-AM was doing exactly what radio should, bringing talent in for live coverage despite the holiday, during what's being called possibly the worst storm to ever hit the Buffalo area - and considering the Buffalo area, that's really saying something. But no day off for their people, and good for them for having continuing coverage through the emergency, Christmas Day or not. 

-I was really disappointed in CityNews 680. They continued their coast-to-coast network news out of Vancouver, and while there were references to Toronto, most of the headlines seemed to be about B.C. Hardly covering the "City News" as the brand implies. The same feed was being simulcast on AM 570 News out of Kitchener, doing little for either city. And the few weather and traffic hits seemed to be ill-timed, so they never smoothly rejoined the network.

-But perhaps the biggest surprise was where I least expected to find it - on BNN Bloomberg Radio. With no business going on, CKOC was pumping out the rerolls you'd normally expect to hear on CFRB, including Bill Carroll, Jerry Agar, The Rush and the Jann Arden podcast. Reruns yes, but at least non-holiday content, which on Dec. 25th at least, seemed increasingly hard to find.