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Make Your List and Check it Twice posted on November 29th, 2021

Make Your List & Check It Twice

By Dave Tyler

It’s funny how nearly every year Christmas sneaks up on me. At some point in Mid-October I start counting how many paydays are between now and December 25th! It also hits me in November that I have to get my Christmas programming in line.

These days we all wear so many hats in the radio station we forget to put on our Santa cap. Often as Programmers we find ourselves just getting through the holidays and doing a lot of work manually for a month or so.

In truth if you plan on sticking around your station a while, you should do yourself the favor of getting your categories set up and your Christmas clocks and grids created ahead of time. Not only will it give you more time to enjoy the season this year but each year after because you already did the heavy lifting. No more putting together the 1,000 piece playhouse the night before. Here is a little checklist of reminders for the season and yes, check it twice.

Categorize your songs – Do you have a category for Traditional tunes like the Bing Crosby and Andy Williams stuff? How about a contemporary category for traditional songs by current artists like Katy Perry’s White Christmas. Maybe you want a “Religious” category for your “Away In The Manger” and “Silent Night” versions. I also actively search for original Christmas songs that artists release each year. Not all of them earn a spot on the air but finding these gems adds some real freshness to your sound.

Coding – Seriously consider Title Keywords for your songs. Not only will this keep each version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” from itself, it can also help if the song is a medley of songs. List each song in the Title Keyword field to maintain your separation. If you don’t think this is important, keep reading for the problems this may cause. Should you just have one category for ALL of your Christmas music, then coding Traditional, Religious, Contemporary, Novelty, New Originals would be an important thing to do so you can then control those sounds with rules.

Rules – Your Christmas music is very different from your normal library and those rules you use the other 11 months of the year are likely not very applicable to your holiday programming. I recommend bypassing your All Category Unbreakable rules for your Christmas categories. To do this open your Rule Tree then right click at the top where it says MusicMaster Rule Tree in bold and choose Rule Tree Properties. You can now put an X in the box for your Christmas categories and then just add the rules you want in those categories. Title Separation becomes the biggie!

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Before wrapping up (yep…pun totally intended!) please double check those Title Keywords. Remember something as small as a comma “,” makes it a different keyword. Look at this example:

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The song “Let It Snow” in this library could potentially play all five back-to-back. If you look at the numbered Title Keywords each one is slightly different from the other. How would I remedy this? Simple they all get the “Let It Snow” keyword.


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It doesn’t matter if at maximum you only play one Christmas song per hour right on through the season or if you increase the amount week to week from Thanksgiving and then go all Christmas. Taking a little time and getting it set up is totally worth it. It will be a better listening experience and it will save you time next year and the year after.

If you have any questions, reach out to your Music Scheduling Consultant. We’re always on the nice list!