Radio stations are beginning to switch over to Christmas music for the holidays, but they’re known to only play a select group of songs and artists, according to visual journalist Jon Keegan, and people are starting to take notice.
Around mid-November, radio stations switch to famous holiday hits to spread some peace and joy throughout the holiday season. Although the intention of the music is to spread some holiday spirit to listeners, that hasn’t been the outcome for some, mainly due to stations’ use of repetition.
In 2018, visual journalist Jon Keegan sat down and analyzed 122 hours of Christmas music playing on the radio. After compiling his data, he noticed something he could not ignore. The radio station had only been playing certain songs and artists, as if they were on a continuous loop, instead of playing a wide variety of Christmas music.
Keegan is not the only individual who has noticed this pattern. Although he reached this conclusion through in-depth analysis, others have noticed it by just listening to the radio on their daily commutes.
“I do notice that radio stations tend to play the same Christmas songs almost every hour. It does annoy me when I’m either on a short car ride or a long one, where I hear the same song over and over again. I want to hear something new and it’s not like there isn’t a wide variety of songs to choose from. I don’t understand why it’s the same five songs,” said junior communication sciences and disorders major Kali Meyer.
Even though it might be annoying to individuals, radio stations have a few reasons as to why they constantly repeat songs. According to an Oct. 19, 2018 Live 95.9 article, the main reason local radio stations repeat songs is because they want to ensure people will hear a chart-topping song at least once during the day while listening to the radio. Repeating songs creates a better chance for listeners to hear them. To some this may be annoying, but to others, it doesn’t bother them in the slightest.
“I feel like they play the most common ones like ‘Santa Baby’ or ‘All I Want for Christmas is You,’ but I don’t mind. I think I listen to the radio more when I know they repeat songs, just because I love the most popular ones they tend to replay,” said sophomore human development and family studies major Caiden Twining.
According to Keegan's data, in the 122 hours he listened to radio Christmas music, the most played artist was Michael Bublé, with 148 plays, and the second most played artist was Bing Crosby, with 70 plays. The least played artists in the 122-hour time frame were Frank Sinatra with 24 plays, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra with 23 plays and the least played artist overall was Burl Ives, with 21 plays.
“I am not surprised that Bing Crosby and Michael Bublé are two of the top artists, because they have become highly popular over the years, not just for Christmas music, but also for the other genres they produce,” said sophomore aviation major Bradley Eberle.
Keegan also created an infographic listing the most popular tracks played and how many times the radio station played them. According to this infographic by Keegan, the most played song was “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby with 38 plays. Michael Bublé had the second and third most played tracks with “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” with 31 plays and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” with 28 plays.
The least played tracks were Burl Ives and Videocraft Chorus’ “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” with 18 plays, Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride” with 17 plays and the least played track was Frank Sinatra’s “Jingle Bells” with 16 plays.
“The infographic did not shock me that much because Bing Crosby starred in the movie ‘White Christmas’ and for many, that song is a Christmas classic. However, I am shocked that Frank Sinatra was last on the list. He is a legend with an amazing voice and I’m disappointed he doesn’t receive the respect he deserves around the holidays,” Meyer said.
Whether you are a fan of the repetition of Christmas songs or not, the one thing that rings true is that radio stations only play those holiday hits for a limited time before they go off the air, until the following year. That information may be enough to make people overlook the repetition and enjoy the music while it lasts.
“I only get to hear this music for 1.5 months out of the year and the other 10.5 months are other types of music, so I have to listen to it while I can,” Eberle said.