Christmas Programming

This time of year is full of festive decorations, lights, holly, and other commemorative displays. It’s also full of music. In radio, more than TV or other media, we enter this season with a bit of dread. It’s not that we don’t like Christmas. It’s not that we’re Scrooge and want everyone to stop celebrating the season (be it Santa or Jesus). It’s the fact that we have to program music that is really a series of 40 cover songs that are over 50 years old, some done in a traditional way and others in a pop style. It’s the same songs over and over again for a month and a half.

I work in the public radio end of the industry. We differ from commercial radio in that for music, we play a wide variety of styles and artists every day. In a week, you’ll never hear the same song twice. Some other public radio stations do things differently, but none of them are rotating the same top 20 tracks over and over again each day like what you’ll hear on your radio’s rock, country, rap, or classic rock stations. That’s one thing that differs from commercial radio. But in the Christmas season, we have to adopt a more commercial radio style in that we are playing the same 40 songs over and over again, except we’re playing 200 or more artists doing those 40 songs. It can get beyond redundant. This is why I don’t really like the music of Christmas, because I have to hear it every day for over a month.

So how do I do a festive celebration of Christmas, music, and the season on The Appetizer without hating what I’m doing? That sounds bad, but after 13 years in this business, it’s a reality I have to face and I want to be honest about it. I really don’t go for the same thing over and over again, hence the whole premise of The Appetizer. So when this time of year rolls around, I try to venture out and find some new interpretations of Christmas songs that do something new to the song that I haven’t heard before, or haven’t experienced in a while.

Fans of the show know that I’m a big fan of covers. I spend 2 hours each summer doing all cover songs. What I enjoy about covers is that you already know the lyrics before the song starts, but you hear something new added to the song, maybe through the music, the arrangement, or the style that it’s played in. It’s a different form of creativity, but it’s beautiful all the same. So with Christmas music, the same dynamic is what I go with for programming The Appetizer for Christmas. This weekend, I have some great pop Christmas songs from Holly Conlan, Otis Redding, music from the soundtrack to one of my favorite Christmas movies “Elf” and a Killer Christmas, featuring 3 original songs by the Killers. It’s going to be fabulous.

Let me know what you think of the program this week, titled Merry Feast Hour 2. You can comment here or send me an email to I look forward to your feedback.

You can hear The Appetizer in Beaumont on Saturday at 3P on 91.3 KVLU-1, in Abilene on Saturday at 9P on 89.7 KACU, and in Stephenville Sunday at 9P on 90.5 KTRL. If you don’t live in any of those locations, you can listen live online by clicking on the link to the station. Since I’m partial to KACU, go to Saturday at 9P CST and click the listen live link.

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Host of the syndicated radio program The Appetizer heard on public radio across Texas and online from our Listen Now link; enjoys conversations, music, food, art, storytelling, and people. Connect with me. Would love to hear from you.

3 thoughts on “Christmas Programming

  • December 17, 2010 at 6:07 PM

    I agree with you here; I love Christmas music but you can only take so many versions of the same song before it gets old, heh. I do like how KACU slowly begins to add the music to the “usual” music mix, and even when it’s all Christmas there seems to be a much greater variety (or they’re mostly versions that I like or have never heard). Or maybe I’m just partial to KACU too 🙂

  • December 18, 2010 at 1:52 AM

    I wish that the radio stations would play some different Christmas songs from some of the artists that they already play but just different songs. One of my favorite songs is never played and it is beautiful. It is called Mary Did you Know? I have not heard it this year at all but the Chipmunks and It does not snow in Texas is played a 100 times a day.


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