Q&A with Michael Quinn, King of Holiday Radio Music

From left, Mike Quinn, Sue McLain and Jim “Jimbo” Albertson are part of the KLXR team who plays hundreds of holiday songs each holiday season.

Note from Doni: Today I speak with Mike Quinn, who owns and manages KLXR, a local radio station in Redding. He discusses KLXR’s milestone.

Doni: You have an anniversary of sorts this holiday at KLXR, Mike, right?

Mike: Yes we do, Doni. 2011 is the 12th year that we have played our Christmas music on KLXR, 1230 on your AM radio dial. So we can look at this as the 12 Years of Christmas.

Doni: Very clever. Actually, I have a confession: Your holiday music is my favorite part of your programming, well, unless it’s Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas music.

Mike: This is our favorite part of the year too! We get a chance to step away from our  regular format and have a lot of fun. We get a great feedback from listeners, especially those in offices, businesses and stores where they just tune in the station and they get all the different songs we offer.

Doni: What started you to play all Christmas music during the holidays?

Mike: I have always loved the Christmas songs and they are only played for a short time each year, so we decided to maximize that opportunity. KLXR has a great advantage in that our regular artists like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby and Mel Torme are the ones who sang the most famous Christmas carols. It was a natural fit that we just had to change the songs our artists sang not change the artists. This keeps with our format of Music and Memories. Who doesn’t have wonderful memories of Christmas?

Doni: You don’t really want me to answer that, do you? But seriously, I know what you mean. Just joking. But back to the music … wow … a dozen years of doing this. How has the technology changed in the last 12 years?

Mike: The technology change has really been a bonus to us, especially in putting together our music programming. We store over 800 Christmas songs on our computer harddrive, in addition to our regular music, and are able to select from just them during our December programs. Just this last year I got a turntable that connects directly to the computer through a USB port and can now load music from the old 45’s and albums. This is a much easier way to load music because there is so much that hasn’t been converted to CDs and I use a program that cleans up the snap, crackle and pop that is associated with records.

Doni: That makes sense. So, tell me how it works with the Christmas music? Do you actually choose each song, or are the songs on a shuffle?

Mike: Using another computer program, I am able to sort the music by type, i.e. Traditional, Non-traditional, Humorous, etc., and then set a mix that will run each hour. The program selects a rotation from each category so the songs get an even selection. Sue and Jimbo always take requests during the morning show so we get the specific songs listeners want.

Doni: Tell me the truth, Mike. Don’t you ever get sick of Christmas music? Even just a little?

Mike: No I don’t. Some of the most beautiful songs ever sung are Christmas carols and they are not played 11 months of the year, so we look forward to this time of the year. KLXR has been known to play Christmas music on July 25th as a Christmas in July special just to remind people how great the music is.

Doni: Do you have any idea of how many Christmas songs you have in your arsenal, I mean available to you?

Mike: Right now we have 842 songs in our Christmas library. I took some out this year and then added some. I still have a stack of albums to go through but those will be new to the list for next year. This great variety is what distinguishes our programming from others, including Sirus, who have holiday formats.

Doni: I know they’re like your children, but do you have favorite songs?

Mike: Whoa, you can get me in trouble with my children on this one. I had better qualify to them that the songs may be like my children but they are not in my will.  We did a survey a couple of years ago and the one song that most people voted as their number one favorite was White Christmas. This was not surprising. Second amonst their favorites was Silver Bells.

I love the traditional songs like Silver Bells, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Little Drummer Boy and also count some of the newer songs like the The Gift and The Christmas Shoes as being on that growing list.

Doni: How about your least-favorite?

Mike: Here are a lot of songs that will never hit the airwaves on KLXR. I think that for the most part, the original artists that sang the songs made them the classics that they are and there are a lot of versions by newer artists that just are not well performed. If they are not good, KLXR won’t play them.

Doni: Anything else you’d like us to know?

Mike: I want to thank the businesses that sponsor this special programming. Without them it would not be possible. They are mentioned between songs. And I would like to tell your readers that the music is on 24 hours a day and on Christmas Day, the music will be commercial free.  I hope people enjoy it as much as we enjoy bringing it to them and that we are open to requests and if anyone has Christmas music that you think we should add to our list, please call (244-5082) or bring them by KLXR at 1326 Market Street in Redding.

And … the most important thing, let’s always keep the word Christmas and the meaning of the seaon alive.

Doni: Thanks so much, Mike. I look forward to many more years of KLXR Christmases.

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Chamberlain was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.

Doni Chamberlain

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded A News Cafe in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain holds a Bachelor's Degree in journalism from CSU, Chico. She's an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She's been featured and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Slate. Bloomberg News and on CNN, KQED and KPFA. She lives in Redding, California.

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