When two Milwaukee radio stations flipped to all-Christmas music in the 7 o'clock hour on Friday night, it had nothing to do with the personal tastes of the folks at the station.
I blogged on the switch when it happened Friday night, and linked to the blog on my Facebook page, eliciting an interesting series of reactions ranging from this:
"Thanks for the heads up. I'll be keeping the iPod on until after Thanksgiving.."
"Xmas music beats 3/4 of the music out there ... two thumbs up!"
Over on Brew City Radio, the Internet forum for radio hobbyists, the format-flip was framed thusly:
"And we need TWO All-Christmas stations because?"
Of course, we don't "need" any of the formats offered by commercial radio. They're programmed the way they are to target a specific part of the audience that can be sold to advertisers.
And, especially in the years since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, there's a track record for the all-Christmas format.
Last year's Halloween flip on Milwaukee radio seems to have been too early, especially when combined with the publicity surrounding the launch of WLWK-FM (94.5) as "Lake FM," offering a format that was heavier on music and lighter on deejays than most station. Lake FM offered one place to go for listeners who didn't want week after week after week of holiday tunes.
But the fact is that there is an audience that does want the holiday to begin well before they dig into their annual turkey dinner.
Around the country, FM stations have been flipping for the past couple weeks. Green Bay got Christmas music the day before Halloween. In the Chicago market, Christmas launched at midnight Friday night on WLIT-FM, a Clear Channel sister station of Milwaukee's WRIT.
For the record, Sirius XM Satellite radio is also going all-Christmas on a couple of its channels today.
Contemporary and traditional favorites air on "Holly," Sirius channel 3/XM channel 23, and Christmas music recorded from the 1940s through the '60s airs on "Holiday Traditions," Sirius/XM channel 4. Three other satellite channels will go holiday formats on Dec. 7, including one focusing on Hannukah.
And Time Warner digital cable subscribers can hear Christmas tunes on Channel 933.
But even with all those all-Christmas choices, there are countless alternatives where you won't hear a single jingling bell -- at least until Christmas Eve.
On TV: Recently departed CNN host Lou Dobbs drops by Bill O'Reilly's Fox News Channel show at 7 tonight. But, Fox News said that, as of Friday, there had been no discussions about Dobbs moving over to the competition.
- On his own CNN show Sunday morning, media reporter Howard Kurtz reported that former Miss California Carrie Prejean "yelled" at a young CNN staffer during her appearance on Larry King's show last week where she almost walked off the show because she didn't like his questions.
- TV Newser is reporting that Ashleigh Banfield, who lost her job at TruTV (the cable channel formerly known as Court TV), is likely moving to ABC News.
- This looks like the week that Comcast's deal to acquire control of NBC will be completed.
A little seltzer down his pants: Last week's death of David Lloyd, a legendary TV writer best-known for his work on the old "Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "The Bob Newhart Show" brought to mind some of the best of the 1970s comedies.
Those were the days when Saturday night wasn't a place shows were sent to die.
Specifically, there's "Chuckles Bites the Dust," an episode of the show from 1975 featuring the gang dealing with the death of ficitonal WJM-TV's children's show host.
A bit of video from that Emmy-winning classic follows below.
Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for OnMilwaukee.com. He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.
A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.
In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at OnMilwaukee.com.
When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.