Friday, November 27, 2009

630 The WRFM Christmas Festival

630 The WRFM Christmas Festival

It's early December and WRFM has started filtering Christmas songs into the rotation. This'll all come to a climax on Christmas eve when we begin the annual Christmas Festival of Music, 36 hours of continuous holiday stuff ranging from the very heaviest of symphonic hymns to the lightest of pop and country crossover songs.

It was heavily promoted, widely heard and, because it was New York and we so-called "personalities" were easily accessible on the telephone and subject to complaint.

One afternoon, the phone rings and it's Morris the Fireman, a regular caller and a big fan. Mo, the Jewish Fireman. Gravel voiced, bedridden, bad heart and out on permanent disability. So Mo says "Why you aren't playing Hanukkah songs, too? You got something against Jews?"

In New York? Don't be ridiculous.

I tell Mo "Hey, I'm as Jewish as you are and if you give me a list of Hanukkah songs, I'll play 'em."

Silence.

There aren't any that mean anything.

I give Mo my usual rap about the holiday: "Mo, you and I both know that Hanukkah is a minor holiday and that it gets big play around here because a bunch of whiny kids want presents like their Christian friends get in December, and we parents comply. This is one of the Big Two Christian observances and the songs are mostly wonderful."

This shuts him up, which wasn't easy to do.

Back to the festival. At that time, the late 1970s, Channel Eleven television was still showing its Yule Log video and playing similar music in the background. You'd watch the long burning at Gracie Mansion, the official residence of the mayor. It was a short loop repeated over and over. They got a lot of viewers.

But according to our mail and phone calls, our music was better. So there were an awful lot of people watching the long with the CH 11 sound turned down and the radio tuned to "Stereo-105," us.

Their really was no comparison. WRFM's lone stockholder, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, had an incomparable treasure trove of Christmas music. There was so much there that we could have gone the whole 36 hours without repeating any one particular version of any song. But, of course, we didn't.

By the time the thing ended, those of us on shift left with what can only be described as a Christmas music hangover. Enough, already.

Thing is, by the time next October of November rolled around, most of us were eager for the return of the Festival.

How I wish I had stolen some of those tapes when the station changed format in 1985.

Shrapnel:

--There was a crow invasion here Thanksgiving morning. Thousands of them swooping in, perching in the trees, pecking on the back and side lawns. Then, they vanished, every last one of them, probably the holiday worm feast wasn't as feastful they expected.

--How did November get so short? It seems like only yesterday, it was October. Time flies when you're (not) having fun?

--Decide now what diet you're going on come New Year's Day. It'll save you time in the long run. Not that any of us will stick to it for more than a week.



I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2009

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