Alvin and The Chipmunks. Like an Old Coat?
Tonight, I took the family out for dinner and the new Spiderman movie. When you have a 10 year-old, that’s a highlight of the weekend. On the way to the dinner portion of our evening, we were listening to a local radio station and sure as Grandma will get run over by a reindeer again this year, on popped a fairly predictable holiday imaging liner, followed by Alvin and The Chipmunks “Christmas Don’t Be Late.” Man, the predictability was palatable. I saw this coming before I even got in the car. I found myself thinking, “How MANY times have I heard this in my life? And here we go again with another holiday season of the chipmunks…and the donkey…and Grandma…and yeah, even Baby It’s Cold Outside (Don’t get me going on that)…all wrapped up in the usual presentation.” And then I thought…”Well, maybe it’s the warm, familiarity of these songs and even the presentation that is the appeal…and why we are destined to keep hearing them for years to come. Afterall, just look at the Christmas music station’s numbers each year. Numbers don’t lie. Do they?”
So as radio “pros”, what is our job in this arena? To basically record our holiday programming once and then blow the dust off of it every year to regale the listeners with the same ole same ole? Or maybe…just MAYBE…we can PRESENT the familiar old songs in a NEW way. It’s the packaging right? What’s the most creative way that we can take that favorite old coat off of the hanger, slip it on and not only feel warm and cozy, but also hip at the same time?
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: “Here comes the pitch for imaging production, right?” Well…yeah, I’ll pitch imaging as a tool that can be part of the solution, but there is so much more that radio can do to make holiday programming fresh, relatable and even entertaining beyond just the music.
At it’s heart, radio is a great medium for storytelling…look at radio of yester-year with all the old radio shows. They told stories. They stoked the imagination. They made the listener want to make an appointment to listen. It was that good. Of course, there weren’t the other entertainment distractions that we have today back then, but we can certainly borrow from the heritage of those days when it comes to making holiday programming entertaining, relevant and successful. What if, when we were driving to dinner and a movie tonight, instead of hearing just a generic holiday sweeper into Alvin and his buddies, we heard a short (perhaps 30 second story) from the on air personality about the first time they heard this song? Or a story about how the song came to be? Or even a “bit” featuring “Alvin” introducing the song (easier to do these days than in the past). Something. Anything, but another year of the same ole same ole.
I dunno, maybe people like hearing the same thing over and over again much like they enjoy watching a favorite old movie over and over again. It’s like that old, comfortable coat that you just need to take out of the closet every now and then to feel safe and warm.
Happy Holidays everyone!