SYRACUSE -- For the past several years, Central New Yorkers have come to expect all-Christmas music to hit the radio on November 1. This year, a new record -- as of late Saturday night, October 5 -- there are two FM frequencies where you can hear holiday hits around the clock. "Holly-FM" is up and running at 95.3 in Syracuse, and 103.9 in Oswego.
Thanks to our colleague Scott Fybush of NorthEast Radio Watch, who caught an FCC filing which hinted at a change just before the federal government shutdown took effect -- although neither of us could tell exactly what was going to be happening until the new format hit the air this evening.
Syracuse-based WOLF Radio, Inc. announced the new format tonight, citing "retail trends that begin the holiday shopping season." While the station didn't cite any specific examples, holiday items are already on display in some stores, and one major national retailer generated some buzz for launching its first round of Christmas ads last month. The announcement describes the station as a venue "where retailers and consumers can tune in to modern and traditional holiday songs as a soundtrack to enhance the holiday experience."
The station launches with a
Facebook page, as well as website at hollyfm.com. (Update - looks like the Facebook page has disappeared.)
In the press release, station manager Sam Furco said, "We believe that starting the season of peace, joy and love early by one month brings the holidays closer for all Central New York families."
The October 5 launch puts "Holly-FM" nearly four weeks ahead of the date we're used to seeing another Syracuse operator, Galaxy Communications, flip two of its own stations to wall-to-wall holiday hits. Syracuse market classic hits Sunny 102.1 (WZUN) and Utica-Rome hot AC Mix 102.5 (WUMX) have traditionally flipped on November 1 -- save for last year, when the latter station flipped about a week later.
No word yet from Galaxy on whether the stations plan to flip in early November again. Usually by mid-November, the all-Christmas race gets even bigger, as Syracuse's Y94 (WYYY) and Utica-Rome's Lite 98.7 (WLZW) enter the fray.
The "Love Radio" programming formerly carried on the 103.9 and 95.3 frequencies has moved to 88.7FM. Fybush noticed that WOLF Radio requested to move the WVOA call letters to the 87.7 frequency (which is technically the audio carrier on TV channel 6), while it appears 103.9FM, licensed to Mexico (Oswego County) is due to change from WVOA to WNDR. The 95.3FM frequency is a translator of the Mexico signal.
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