For one DJ, a calling to work on Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring–except the local disc jockey.

In the radio business, Christmas Eve has always been a tough time-slot to fill. But some intrepid DJs jump at the chance to babysit the board during the holiday.

Jon Solomon takes it to an extreme. Since 1987 he has been spinning records for a solid day–a 24-hour live marathon of holiday music.

He always starts with garage rock, usually the Sonics, the legendary 60’s punk band from Seattle, and from there go where the spirit moves him: dipping into modern rock, some holiday heavy metal, radio Christmas plays, even a recording of how to make latkes. He says it takes about 300 songs to fill 24 hours.

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He’s been doing it for 22 of the last 23 years on WPRB in Princeton, New Jersey, where he has a regular weekly show. The one year he didn’t do a holiday marathon, he missed it terribly.

“I can’t imagine being anywhere or doing anything else on Christmas. That would feel strange to me,” Said Solomon, who once proposed to his now-wife while live on the air. “It’s exhausting and takes a lot out of me, but hopefully spending a lot of time previewing records and listening to new things doesn’t make it boring for me.”

Solomon, who is now a father of a 2 1/2 year old, will coax his daughter will sing “Jingle Bells” for his listeners this year.

His commitment to round-the-clock DJing has inspired others to do the same. Over at Philadelphia’s WXPN, Robert Drake will spin records from midnight to midnight on the 24th. When Drake started his marathon three years ago he asked Solomon for advice.

“He recommended to stay away from coffee, drink tea if you need a caffeine fix,” said Drake, a producer for WXPN’s Kids Corner program, as well the organizer of the annual Zombie Bar Crawl. “He also recommended to keep mobile, so you’re not sitting still for 24 hours. The thing I like the most – I have a chatroom that’s open for 24 hours, so listeners are popping in online throughout the world.”

Most importantly, Drake says listening to Jon Solomon for two decades taught him that he is not a freak for wanting to spend all of Christmas playing records.

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