The Christmas carols are coming.
Every year, at least one radio station in the Triangle converts to playing all holiday tunes -- 24/7 of Rudolph, Feliz Navidad and White Christmas.
This year, WRAL-FM plans to make the switch on Nov. 26. That's the day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday and treasured by eager retailers as the traditional kickoff to the holiday shopping season.
That's later than last year, and WRAL (101.5) might do it sooner if a rival radio station jumps in, said program director Barry Fox.
In the meantime, WRAL started streaming Christmas music from its website this week. The joyful noise is also on its HD channel, which will shift back to its regular programming once the traditional station begins its broadcast.
"I'm answering several e-mails a day from people who want to know when it's starting," Fox said.
Advertisers are asking, too. "They love it. There's always a spike in the ratings because we pick up listeners from other stations," Fox said. "That's how you know you have something special."
Granted, not everyone is a fan. "There are a few soreheads every year," Fox said. "I'd be lying if I said we didn't get complaints."
But this is the fourth straight year that WRAL, which is owned by Raleigh-based Capitol Broadcasting, will make the change. The station normally plays adult contemporary music, and the audience base is very similar, Fox said. As it plays only holiday music, the station is trying to expose its on-air personalities and other features to new listeners that might stick around later.
Raleigh-based Curtis Media has no plans to join the festivities. The company owns 25 radio stations across the state, including more than a half-dozen in the Triangle. Its top local station is country music king WQDR-FM.
Holiday music is "a very effective audience tool for one month," president Phil Zachary said. "Most advertisers are pretty wise to that game. They realize you get good ratings for a month but then it's business as usual."
Staff writer David Ranii contributed to this report.