Believe it or not, I've been getting questions since mid-September from readers wondering about the annual flip of a couple Milwaukee radio stations to an all-Christmas music format.
On reader/listener emailed me on Thursday saying he freaked out when he heard Christmas music on a Madison station, WERN-FM, until he learned it was a premium being offered by the Wisconsin Public Radio station.
Everybody on edge about the flip should just relax. It's not likely to come for more than a month.
Last year, it was Nov. 18 when WRIT-FM (95.7) went all-holiday with Johnny Mathis singing "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas."
In 2009, WMYX-FM (99.1) went all-Christmas on Nov. 13.
The earliest flip came on Halloween 2008.
Notice a trend here? No, the all-Christmas flip isn't getting earlier at all.
In fact, it's been moving to a more rational date (I'd argue that the best day for the flip is at midnight at the beginning of the day after Thanksgiving. But that's just me).
This early all-Christmas thing isn't even that old, starting after the Sept. 11 attacks. At times, there were up to three stations in the Milwaukee market dumping their normal playlists for holiday standards. Now, two may be stretching it.
For folks annoyed by the annual flip, it does bring in advertising money, which is the goal of commercial radio. The downside is that it can disrupt normal listening trends, driving some listeners away who will have to be lured back after Christmas. But in the era of personal people meter ratings, with more precise measurements, it's not quite as big a deal as it once was.
Here's a prediction that the flip will happen here either Nov. 17 or 18. But let me be clear that it's not based on an insider info. Call it an educated guess. For competitive reasons, these are closely guarded secrets.
It's sort of like waiting for the surprise of opening up your Christmas presents – in the middle of November.
By the way, I haven't noticed any Christmas commercials on TV yet, except the Blain's Farm and Fleet spot about the Saturday opening of its Christmas toy department.
Have you noticed any early Christmas ads while watching television?
On TV: ABC has picked up "Revenge" and "Suburgatory" for full-season runs, and ordered six more scripts for "Happy Endings."
- The CW has picked up Sarah Michelle Gellar's "Ringer," Rachel Bilson's "Hart of Dixie" and "Secret Circle."
- NBC has ordered a half-dozen more scripts for "Prime Suspect," and Kathy Bates' "Harry's Law," two shows that haven't been doing great lately.
- Like other ABC affiliates, Channel 12 is part of a competition to send two local viewers to the Nov. 21 season finale of "Dancing with the Stars." You can get the details on-line.
- Ted Koppel is joining Brian Williams' "Rock Center" as a contributor. The ridiculously-named NBC news magazine debuts Halloween night at 9 on Channel 4.
From "MythBusters" to Steve Jobs: Discovery is turning to its "MythBusters" duo, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, to host this weekend's "iGenius: How Steve Jobs Changed the World," at 7 p.m. Sunday.
It's not much, but here's a promo for the one-hour special:
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.