For many years now, come the holiday season, entire swaths of the FM-radio listening public — indeed, the bag ladies and junkmen of the media age, us lot — would turn their crusty dials to B101 on Thanksgiving Day, and then leave it there until Orthodox Christmas (that’s January 6 for you heathens). And lo, it was good. Kind of.
May we say a few words about the grand holiday tradition of B101′s all-holiday programming stretch? It is worthy of Ginsberg-level poetics. B101, you are the sound of every mother in the tri-state area slowly but most certainly losing her mind. B101, you are the sound of the fleecey mad comfort of seasonal depression. B101, when you hand over the feed to Delilah each holiday-time night when her show goes extra maudlin, where she can simultaneously soothe war widows and subtly espouse the virtues of this fading land in a way that, if you’re listening, can be completely infuriating, B101, this — this! — is mother’s milk! It is the sound by which we measure these years, flapping into one another like the obsolete cards in an obsolete rolodex.
And for as long as we can remember, ’twas ever thus. Until today. Today sees the launch of WXPN’s “Jingle Jams,” which has now colonized the XPN2 stream, from whence we once did our Philebrity Radio. The station’s press release describes it this way:
Billed as the “holiday mix to jingle your jangle,” JINGLE JAMS can be found streaming 24/7 at xpn2.org featuring an eclectic mix of holiday music curated by Robert Drake, who also hosts WXPN’s annual live, 24-hour Christmas Eve music marathon. JINGLE JAMS will also be broadcast on 88.5 HD2 and 88.7 HD2.
We’re plenty jangled already, thank you, but you can’t argue with results: Here is a holiday music jawn that did not immediately make us reach for Auntie Effexor. Could it have been an accident that we tuned in today just as Cheech & Chong were doing their “Santa and his Old Lady” bit? It could not have been. What about the John Prine that followed? And then the song after that, and after that, which was not muzak but muz-ik? At long last, redemption! You know, it’s a scientific fact that the modality of Christmas music can actually release serotonin in some people, thereby making them happier. I mean, it’s also true that in others, it can cause an immediate wish to do self-harm, but hey: At least now, this Christmas, in Philadelphia, there are choices. Hallelujiah.