Monday, November 19, 2007

The Spirit of Christmas is On the Air

We’ve all gone to the mall or discount store before Halloween and noticed the shelves already stocked with Christmas items. Each year, it seems to happen earlier to the point that it’s almost a cliché joke to hear Holiday music while one is still wearing shorts and sun block. Well now, you can hear that same Christmas music in the comfort of your own home, without tossing on your old Bing Crosby LPs or your Mannheim Steamroller CD.

Last season in Raleigh, there was one particular radio station that played all Christmas music. They used to be Sunny 93.9…the station that overplayed Elton John and Celine Dion. On November 1 of 2006, they became all holiday music, all the time. Well, at least until after Christmas, when they became Kiss 93.9. The format changed from easy listening to “feel good” music…ranging from 80’s dance to today’s more upbeat music. Frankly, I enjoy listening to 93.9 now and then when other songs hit “overplay” status on my preferred stations. I assumed they would convert to Christmas on November 1 again this year, but hearing “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” by the Gap Band convinced me that they canned the holiday genre.

Eventually, I began to wonder if any station would be playing holiday tunes this year. Admittedly, it was pretty early in the season, but with all the store decorations flooding my senses, it made me wonder if in fact we’d have an official Christmas station this year. As I scanned the radio dial, I found that 102.9 indeed was “Carolina’s Official Christmas Station”…even endorsed by Santa himself. Christmas had been saved! There was now a guaranteed 24-hour sound track to accompany all yuletide activities. Still, it’s pretty early in the year for Nat King Cole and Jose Feliciano. After all, this was around November 10…nearly two weeks before Thanksgiving!

In the morning, I generally listen to 101.5. They have played the same adult contemporary style music for as long as I can remember. The music is okay, but I typically listened to their “morning show” deejays. In fact, they’ve even talked about a couple of my blogs on the air, so I have a special place within me to listen to these guys. Well, on November 14, I tuned in as I normally do, and lo and behold, Elvis’ “Blue Christmas” blared from my speakers. Surely this was only a once-per-hour type of airing. But subsequent songs proved that assumption wrong. Mix 101.5 was now broadcasting exclusively from the North Pole.

Over this past weekend, I was painting my bedroom (another blog-worthy venture in itself) and turned on my son’s boom box for accompaniment. After a while, I realized I just wasn’t in the Christmas music mood, so I turned from 101.5 back to 93.9. What I heard was good Ol’ Bing singing “White Christmas!” Could this be the right station? Yes it was. 93.9 is now playing “Kiss-mas” music until the big day itself. So we now have not one, not two, but three “official” Holiday music stations in the area (and not one adult contemporary station).

I suppose I can understand the logic. After all, what other genre music exists where so many people know the words to so many songs? I dare you to listen to an hour of Christmas music without humming or singing along to at least one of the songs. And what other type of music invites the likes of Andy Williams, Josh Groban, Annie Lennox, Faith Hill, Mariah Carey, and even Twisted Sister equally onto the airwaves? When you think about it, as irritating as so much yuletide music can be, it’s the most popular music there is. So what radio station general manager wouldn’t want to pump up advertising revenue with a little Jingle Bells and Little Drummer Boy?

As I close my thoughts, Gene Autry is crooning “Here Comes Santa Claus.” My toe is tapping, I find myself humming, and I think of my kids’ impending giddiness at the thought of Saint Nick. You know, maybe Christmas music should be played more often after all.

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