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Mix 96 jumps on the Christmas music bandwagon; Star 102.5 holds out

It’s too soon for Santa Claus for one of the two local radio stations that traditionally play all holiday music long before Thanksgiving.

A year ago, both 96.1 FM (now called WMSX) and Star 102.5 FM (WTSS) went all Christmas the Saturday after Halloween.

This year, that didn’t happen with at least one of the stations.

“I will not be playing Christmas music before the November election,” said 102.5 operations manager Sue O’Neil. “But we may play ‘Let It Snow” if there is a freak snowstorm.”

Mix 96, on the other hand, started mixing in Christmas songs with its non-Christmas music today.

“Who is ready for the holidays?!” the station tweeted at 5:39 a.m. today. (The tweet got a single reply: “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!”)

Radio stations try to keep the start date for “Frosty the Snow Man,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and other tunes a secret for competitive reasons.

But there’s no secret why they play Christmas music early: Ratings increase when it is played, and the stations want to get as much mileage out of it in the fall book, which this year ends Dec. 4.

“If we waited until Dec. 1, we’d only have three days of the book,” explained O’Neil.

“We do it to make the station stand out,” O’Neil said of playing Christmas music early. “We want to make our listeners happy.”

Dave Universal, the program director at Mix 96, wouldn’t say earlier this week if his station’s plans had changed now that the station is no longer called Joy 96.1.

In a text message, he wrote “Mix 96 will continue to play … Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry AND the Christmas music everyone loves at the appropriate time.”

Today, apparently, is the appropriate time.