Many of the people who are so completely obsessed with Christmas music come out of the world of radio, myself included. You'd understand that if you ever found yourself alone in a radio studio at 3 AM Christmas morning, babysitting the same Christmas tape you have babysat for 5 years running, offering up sleepy generic renditions of Christmas carols identified on the cue sheet with titles like "Alone In A Manager" and "Sheep With Safety Glaze". There are only two ways you can go with Christmas music after an experience like that--you either come to love it or to loathe it. Obviously, we know which side of the tree I fell out on.
And there's no better radio format, especially for Christmas music, than Free Form radio--a format where Basie and the Beatles can lay side-by-side with the Bluegrass Cardinals and BB King, a format where the next record you hear could be.......anything in the recorded history of music.
Rich Russo hosts "Anything, Anything" on New York's WRXP-FM. "Anything, Anything" is New York's ONLY truly Free Form radio program. Tomorrow night, from 9 to Midnight, Rich will turn an expanded edition of his program over to the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future for a holiday stocking stuffed to overflowing with music of the season you may never have heard on the radio before, including some you may never have heard anywhere ever before. I'm guessing that about 2 and a half hours in, you and your host will both be exclaiming, "We're gonna need a bigger show."
You can listen to Rich Russo's "Anything, Anything" Christmas special from anywhere in the world by streaming the live feed at the WRXP-FM web site.
In my days in the New York listening area, the keeper of the commercial radio Free Form flame was Vin Scelsa. Vin's annual Christmas shows were Must Hear radio. Ask me where I first heard Lord Buckley's "Scrooge" or The Leopards' "Dancing In The Snow", the answer is Vin Scelsa. Back in those days, WRXP was WPIX-FM and the announcers there included Doctor Jerry Carroll, who moonlighted as the television face of Crazy Eddie ("his prices are insane"), Jim Kerr, Meg Griffin, and Dan Neer. Now, it's WRXP and Rich Russo is holding the Free Form torch high.
Tomorrow night, Rich will slide down your chimney with a sack fill of Christmas goodies you won't want to miss. This radio Santa is already handing out presents, making available--for free download--holiday exclusives from Dramarama and River City Extension (so far). Go get 'em!
Look, The Walking Dead and Dexter seasons are over. So turn off the TV tomorrow night. Go to the WRXP web site, click on the burgundy banner on the right that says "stream here" (you might want to check it now, to make sure it'll work perfectly on your system). Then pour yourself a glass of eggnog (as Granny would say, "You know, the good one"), turn on the tree, turn down the lights, and enjoy three hours of Christmas magic of a kind you can still only find on live radio. Don't worry about the playlist; Rich will post that on his site sometime after the show. Just listen. It's a one-of-a-kind Christmas present you won't want to return--a wonderful string of holiday lights and tinsel. With sleigh bells.
Rich Russo's "Anything, Anything" Christmas special airs tomorrow night (Sunday, December 19) from 9 PM to Midnight on New York's WRXP-FM. If you're here, you've got to be there.
Now, Christmas Eve is another story. Remind me to tell you about Jon Solomon sometime. Sometime soon.