- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 24, 2002

WASH-FM (Radio 97.1) disc jockeys are skipping Thanksgiving and are going directly to Christmas.
The local radio station began playing Christmas carols around the clock Friday and will continue to do so through Dec. 25.
"It's Christmas music on demand. It gives you a source of all Christmas music all the time when you want it," said WASH-FM program director Steve Allan. "When you want Christmas music, you know where to turn."
It had been a WASH tradition for several years to play "wall-to-wall" carols on the day after Thanksgiving and then play seasonal songs a few days before Christmas Day.
Last year, the soft-rock station decided to broadcast the songs of the season 24 hours a day starting the day after Thanksgiving through Christmas.
Apparently, it worked.
"The ratings were extremely high last year," said Mr. Allan. "Based on the reaction we got last year, it was an overwhelming positive thing, and we felt like we'd do it again this year.
This year, WASH has moved up its Christmas programming a week. It's going to be all Christmas, all the time, for 816 straight hours.
Mr. Allan acknowledged that the station may have lost some fans during its caroling marathon last year.
"All Christmas music is not for everyone," he said.
But Mr. Allan said many WASH listeners who turned to other stations during Christmastime later returned, and the station gained many new listeners from its venture. "Obviously, we're carving a niche. We look at it as a service. People do go nuts for Christmas music," he said.
He said WASH-FM has no plans to begin playing Christmas music before Halloween next year, or before any other holidays.
The local station's move brings it closer to WKOL-FM, the upstate New York station that opted to play Christmas music 365 days a year in 1994. A manager of the Amsterdam, N.Y., station told the Albany Times Union newspaper that he could envision listeners throwing summer block parties to the tune of "The 12 Days of Christmas."
That concept "didn't fly," said a longtime Amsterdam resident last year. WKOL folded and the station that replaced it, WBKK-FM, plays Christmas carols for part of Christmas Eve and all of Christmas Day.
Disc jockeys at other stations said they pitied the WASH-FM talent.
"I must admit, if I had to play 34 straight days of Christmas music, I would have to be heavily medicated and contemplate my future as a topless dancer," said Tim Virgin, an afternoon disc jockey for alternative-rock WHFS-FM (Radio 99.1).


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