Broadcasting, Advice

Using Holidays to Your Advantage as a Radio Broadcaster

No matter the time of year, we frequently find ourselves gathering with family and friends to celebrate various holidays. Some holidays you may celebrate while others may just pass you by, but regardless of your own celebration, there are always people celebrating any given holiday. And, what often goes hand in hand with celebrating? Music.

When you have your own station, you have the ultimate control of the programming, meaning you can play just about anything you want at any moment. Some choose to play a variety of music while others choose to stick pretty closely to one genre.

However, something that can be helpful in growing listenership is playing holiday music, and we don't just mean playing music that correlates with Christmas, New Year's, or Hanukkah. There is music out there that coordinates with just about every holiday. That means that there is an opportunity for you to provide specialized music that many other stations and music providers in general might not provide since there are so many holidays.

Aside from Christmas, New Year's, Hanukkah, and any other celebration that goes on at the end of the year, there is Easter, July 4th, Thanksgiving, Valentine's Day, Presidents' Day, St. Patrick's Day, Cinco de Mayo, Ramadan, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Memorial Day, Halloween, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Kwanzaa, Veterans Day, and that is barely scratching the surface!

There are national holidays, state holidays, cultural holidays, months dedicated to certain subjects, and just about every single day is a unique holiday (ie. International Coffee Day, International Picnic Day, National Doughnut Day, etc.). All you have to do is look up a list of holidays and you will find pages and pages of holidays that you could potentially offer programming for on your station.

Now, you may be thinking, "there isn't music for all of those holidays." While it is true that all holidays don't have a plethora of music dedicated to them, there is always music that has a theme or topic that ties into the holiday. That is where the opportunity lies for these holidays and months that maybe don't have a ton of dedicated music. You can compile an awesome playlist of music that ties into any given holiday and play that on your station, and there you have it, a special holiday event that can potentially draw listeners to your station.

It's important to note that if you are deviating from your usual programming, you will need to let listeners know in advance what to expect. The last thing that you want to do is shock your listeners with unusual programming and turn them away. This can be avoided by letting them know about the special programming many days in advance. Tell them on your station, on social media, in your newsletter, on your website, and anywhere else you communicate with listeners.

You may also be thinking, "how is anyone outside of my regular listeners going to find my station if I'm just doing a special event for a holiday?" Obviously, if your station is not branded for a specific holiday or as a holiday station in general, your station will likely not show up in any Google searches for programming related to your chosen holiday.

But, one important way to potentially let new people know about your special holiday programming is to advertise your programming on social media many days in advance. You also might consider finding groups on Facebook and/or other online communities that would be interested in your special holiday programming to directly let them know about it. Aside from posting about it ahead of time, you need to post about it frequently. Ensure that your posts include the holiday name and any keywords related to the holiday. Furthermore, ensure that your posts include hashtags of the holiday name and keywords. It's important not to include too many hashtags as that can appear messy, but hashtags and keywords can allow those that are looking for content related to a certain holiday to find it easily and quickly. If you have posted several times in a few days on Twitter that you are having special programming for Cinco de Mayo, for example, there's a good chance that at some point you will appear in the search results for some people looking up tweets that contain "Cinco de Mayo" or "#CincodeMayo."

Note that the more celebrated the holiday is, the more likely it is that others will have programming, meaning you will be competing for listeners. Also, a highly celebrated holiday will mean it'll be harder to appear in search results on social media because of the high volume of posts related to that holiday.

So, a great place to start with incorporating holidays into your programming might be one of those more obscure holidays where you could more easily appear in search results. If you gain some listeners from unique holiday programming over time, you may become their trusted station and/or their trusted station for various holiday music. Then, as you grow, you may be better able to compete in programming for the more celebrated holidays.

Using holiday music to your advantage may not be for everybody, but it is definitely a strategy to grow your listenership, especially if you are particularly passionate about a specific holiday or holidays in general. Whatever you do, remember that the key, no matter your strategy, is always communication with current listeners as well as potential listeners.


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About Michelle Ruoff

  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania