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This local radio station will be playing Christmas music nonstop until New Year’s

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IDAHO FALLS – The sounds of Christmas are back in eastern Idaho.

As of Monday morning, KLCE 97.3 FM is now playing Christmas music 24/7 through the end of the year.

Classy 97 has traditionally started playing holiday music closer to Thanksgiving. Bill Fuerst, the general manager of Riverbend Communications, which owns Classy and four other stations, tells EastIdahoNews.com the decision to launch it earlier in the season is based on trends in other markets.

“Over the course of last year, a lot of people in our industry and in larger communities decided what a lot of people needed during the pandemic is some inspiration and a boost,” Fuerst says.

Fuerst explains some radio stations in larger markets started playing Christmas music in July last year.

“I have a friend that programs the Christmas music station in Phoenix, and when he presented the idea to me, I thought he was crazy,” says Fuerst. “But they had overwhelming success and an incredible boost in ratings. It increased on a weekly basis and impacted them very positively.”

Though there is data indicating that the appropriate day to start playing Christmas music is as early as possible, Fuerst felt doing it closer to Thanksgiving just made sense because that’s when most people are coming home to be with their families. The decision to start playing Christmas music on Nov. 1 happened several months ago.

“It just felt like the right thing to do this year. After COVID and everything else, people needed some lightheartedness,” Riverbend Operations Manager Jade Davis says.

Davis says the station got a great response last year from playing holiday music through Dec. 31 instead of ending it the day after Christmas so they’re continuing the same trend this year.

Fuerst says Classy 97 gains new listeners throughout November and December who normally aren’t listening the rest of the year. Still, the early launch never fails to attract a large percentage of Christmas music “haters.”

Music Director Viktor Wilt says he’s spent a lot of time picking “the best of the best Christmas songs” for the east Idaho market and he’s hoping those who aren’t particularly enthusiastic about the early launch will give it a chance.

“With Christmas music, those staple songs tend to be the ones that you come back to time and time again. Even artists putting out Christmas songs every year tend to be covering the classics. It’s pretty rare that a brand-new, original Christmas song breaks through, but you do see it happen from time to time,” Wilt says.

New holiday music is already starting to show up from artists and Wilt is excited to hear what listeners think about it.

“There’s a great variety of the very best of each style of Christmas song for the people of eastern Idaho,” says Wilt.

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