Holiday Lite puts a select few favorite songs on repeat
BY KARA SPAK Staff Reporteremail@example.com December 14, 2012 10:54AM
Jerry Varghese, left, and Roy Cases are dedicated Holiday Lite FM 93.9 fans, even starting a Facebook fan page during high school at Niles West because they liked that everyone seemed happier when listening to Christmas music. Photographed on Wednesday, December 12, 2012 in Niles. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times
The top 10
WLIT-FM (93.9) holiday listeners are familiar with these songs, the 10 most popular in the station’s holiday rotation.
1. “Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” John & Yoko / The Plastic Ono Band
2. “Jingle Bell Rock,” Bobby Helms
3. “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” Burl Ives 4. “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” Andy Williams 5. “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” Brenda Lee 6. “The Christmas Song,” Nat King Cole 7. “It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas,” Bing Crosby
8. “Merry Christmas Darling,” Carpenters
9. “The Little Drummer Boy,” Harry Simeone Chorale
10. “Blue Christmas,” Elvis Presley
Updated: January 18, 2013 6:06AM
So this is Christmas.
And what have you done?
If you’ve tuned into WLIT-FM (93.9) since Nov. 9, when the station turned off the easy listening and turned on the holiday music, you’ve heard “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” time and again.
And again. And again.
The 41-year-old John Lennon and Yoko Ono song is the most popular on a 304-tune playlist that repeats the same standards day after day, holiday season after holiday season.
There’s Bobby Helms’ “Jingle Bell Rock” and Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas.” Karen Carpenter sings of “homemade pumpkin pie” in “Home for the Holidays.” So does Perry Como. Paul McCartney is simply having a “Wonderful Christmastime.” Brenda Lee is “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”
Left outside in the cold are more contemporary takes, like Justin Bieber’s “Silent Night,” or “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” as sung by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in an album released this year. There’s no Kenny Rogers or John Denver, with or without the Muppets.
“There’s no question about it — it feels like you’re hearing the same songs all the time,” said Jerry Varghese, 20, a DePaul University student who started a Facebook Holiday Lite FM fan page with friend Roy Cases when the two were high school freshman.
“They need to add more Michael Buble,” Cases said in all seriousness. “Even though I love 93.9 Holiday Lite, sure, people get sick of it.”
Varghese and Cases, an Oakton Community College student, started the page as an homage to the happy attitude they believe holiday music imparts on its listeners. More than 2,000 joined them, some posting songs they would like to hear but the station won’t necessarily play. “Dominick the Donkey” is frequently mentioned.
What tunes make the playlist and how often they play is proprietary information, said Angela Ingram, vice president for communications for Clear Channel Media + Entertainment Chicago, the station’s owner. Ingram did say that “Christmas Canon” by Trans-Siberian Orchestra (“On this night, on this night, on this very Christmas night” as sung by a children’s choir) was the most requested song, though it doesn’t make the top 20 rotation posted on the station’s website.
Regardless of the limited selection, people are tuning in. The holiday season is the station’s most listened-to period of the year. And when Mother Nature can’t provide a festive holiday atmosphere, there’s always repeated radio play of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” and “The Little Drummer Boy” as performed by the Harry Simeone Chorale.
“I wish we had some snow,” Varghese said. “But in the meantime we have the Lite.”