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Playlist: Music Station Picks for December

Compiled By: PRX Editors

 Credit: oinkylicious
Image by: oinkylicious 
Curated Playlist

PRX Format Curators are here to help stations quickly locate radio pieces that are more relevant to their local air. Format Curators are very good in their fields: they have proven content expertise and have worked at local stations. They get the challenges of programming to a specific format and a local sound.

Here are the December picks for music stations from David Srebnik.

David produces Virtuoso Voices, an interview clip and fundraising service heard on 115 stations. As an Associate Producer at NPR, he programmed the music heard on Performance Today, and directed news and music programming at stations in Texas, Michigan, Florida, New Orleans and North Carolina.

What David listens for in music programming:

"I look and listen for programming that puts the listener first, speaks listener language and answers 'yes' to questions like:

* Is it enjoyable, beautiful, entertaining or substantial?
* Will it be memorable?
* Will it advance understanding and enjoyment of the music?
* Will this contribute to making public radio indispensable?

"I'm not big on music education on the radio, especially in the form made infamous by the so-called 'old-school' of classical music announcing.

"Radio can, however, educate in a compelling and entertaining way. David Schulman's Musicians in their Own Words series and WNYC's Richard Wagner documentaries are good examples of music education without the academic shackles that have made that term deadly on the radio." Hide full description

PRX Format Curators are here to help stations quickly locate radio pieces that are more relevant to their local air. Format Curators are very good in their fields: they have proven content expertise and have worked at local stations. They get the challenges of programming to a specific format and a local sound.

Here are the December picks for music stations from David Srebnik.

David produces Virtuoso Voices, an interview clip and fundraising service heard on 115 stations. As an Associate Producer at NPR, he programmed the music heard on Performance Today, and directed news and music programming at stations in Texas, Michigan, Florida, New Orleans and North Carolina.

What David... Show full description

Austin Music Unlimited Holiday Special - 'Home for the Holidays'

From KUT | 55:15

A strong, but laid back mix of holiday music from Austin, KUT and David Brown.

There's Willie Nelson (Silent Night), with Marsha Ball (fab), Jimmie Dale Gilmore (stunning arrangement of a should-be holiday standard), Asleep at the Wheel, Kelly Willis, Ruthie Foster, Tish Hinojosa, Sara Hickman, Los Lonely Boys and other Austin based performers contributing originals and holiday standards.

Austin Music Unlimited Holiday Special and host David Brown offer your station's listeners a very high music to talk ratio. The quieter musical moments are exquisite both musically and for the sheer contrast they provide the other non-musical sounds of the season.

Austin Music Unlimited Holiday Special is a special gift to public radio listeners for musical reasons and more.

Schedule the show in the heat of the holidays, late at night and even before noon. (Audition the ending to appropriately prepare your local announcer to localize the KUT promo at the end.)

Holidaytruck_small Willie Nelson, Kelly Willis, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Asleep at the Wheel, Ruthie Foster, the Rev. Horton Heat and many more are among the featured artists in this hour-long seasonal music showcase.  There are inventive reworkings of some holiday classics, surprising originals, and exclusive live music recorded in KUT's legendary 'Studio 1A'.  Hosted by David Brown of KUT's Texas Music Matters with minimal interruption. This program has been modified to suit broadcast over any station without need for local 'set-up' or explanation; just press play.  Accommodates newscasts; includes two built-in instrumental beds for local underwriting and announcements.   Happy Holidays and warm wishes from all of us at KUT Austin!

A Jethro Tull Christmas With Ian Anderson

From Douglas Grant | 59:00

This piece was last reviewed in 2006 and those solid reviews, and the program itself, still hold up. Not much to add to what Bill Anderson, Carl Vasconcellos and Curt Nighswander didn't already say, and say well.

Perfect for stations looking to add at least one holiday program that doesn't follow the norm, but still absolutely captures the holiday music sound and seasonal craze. The arrangements of known and not so well-known holiday tunes, are rendered with Tullian touches, but their enjoyment is not limited to Jethro Tull fans.

It's a good time to meet and hear the music and thoughts of Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull, and this program makes the introductions clever, pleasingly cynical, smart, unpredictable, intimate and appealing.

Music to talk ratio is almost always right where you want it.

Recommended for AAA and other contemporary music formats, news, and selected news/music formats.

Because I know the trauma of being a programmer and getting SURPRISED on the air, I encourage you to audition this and all (my) other program recommendations. Words from these recommendations are never substitutions for your own ears and expert knowledge of your station's listeners.

Ian_santa_a2_small Multi-instrumental musician, prolific writer, distinctive singer and conspicuous flutist Ian Anderson of the British band Jethro Tull shares colorful Christmas memories, and presents tracks from the "cynical and grumpy" Jethro Tull Christmas Album. Anderson talks about his relationship with the flute and relearning to play the instrument properly after three decades of recording and touring. Broadly classified at times as Progressive Rock, Jethro Tull's music spans many genres including Jazz, Folk, Classical and Blues, in ways that are as rich and brilliant as they are unique. This humorous and engaging one-hour special provides a definite counterpoise to more conventional holiday programming fare, and is well-suited to a wide age range, given Jethro Tull's lengthy and illustrious history which began in the 1960's. The band has produced 30 albums and performed more than 2500 concerts in 40 countries. Engineer and Producer Douglas Grant has also included original blends of a few of the band's recordings which Tull fans may find interesting. The program is newscast compatible, with optional content filling the hh:01-hh:06 slot; there is also a 60sec bed at 28min past the hour for those needing the hole. For full T&C, see the Information for Stations section. Attachments: 30 second promo edit with bed, and Ian Santa program graphics.

Hot Jazz for a Cool Yule

From PVP Media | Part of the Rivewalk Jazz series | 59:00

Just about any visit to the Riverwalk to hear Jim Cullum and his band is a lock on good times -- musical and other. That tradition is firmly in place with "Hot Jazz for a Cool Yule."

The universal appeal to the music that extends beyond and around the core jazz audience -- so this program is worth considering for news stations and all others pursuing a varied (but not-all-over-the-map) holiday sound.

And a noncritical point of reference, this is early jazz, more towards Dixie than straight ahead. That's something to keep in mind especially in today's context of what we consider to be either hot or "cool" as in "Hot Jazz for a Cool Yule."

That advisory out of the way -- schedule H-J-F-A-C-Y in the evenings and weekend afternoons to enhance your holiday schedule and your listeners enjoyment of the holidays.

Lane_small It?s December. The days are short. And with everything to do to get ready for the holidays, they seem even shorter. Never mind. It?s time for hearth and home, and sitting by the fire with family and friends. It?s a time of 'peace on earth' even as we scramble to cross one more item off our to-do lists. Thank goodness, it is also a time for musical traditions that keep a holiday mood in the air. This week on Riverwalk Jazz, it's Hot Jazz for a Cool Yule as Jim Cullum and the Band welcome an all-star cast of legendary jazz players, outstanding vocal artists and one outrageous tap dancer to the stage of The Landing to interpret carols and holiday classics in a jazz band mood. Using his dancing feet as a percussion instrument, tap sensation Savion Glover joins cornetist Jim Cullum and drummer Eddie Torres on a highly original jazz interpretation of the holiday classic, ?The Little Drummer Boy.? A Tony Award-winning performer, Glover changed the way people think about tap with his hit, Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk, and his star turn 'standing in' for the animated Penguin hero in the motion picture Happy Feet. Over the years, Savion has continued his creative experiment in dance, tapping to musical forms from hip-hop and jazz to classical compositions. Our Hot Jazz for a Cool Yule Holiday Special captures a bevy of jazz legends in a holiday mood: Champion of trumpet and flugelhorn and veteran of Ellington and Basie Bands, Clark Terry offers a luscious rendition of ?The Christmas Song? (You can almost catch the scent of 'chestnuts roasting on an open fire'.) Milt "The Judge" Hinton, a legend of the jazz bass fiddle, holds forth with a genial stroll through ?Winter Wonderland.? Dick Hyman once again proves he is the 'Fred Astaire of the Keyboards' as he joins The Jim Cullum Jazz Band on a high-energy romp through "Jingle Bells Swing". Bechet protegee and soprano sax genius Bob Wilber sails through a playful interpretation of "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town", making young and old believe once more in the jolly fat man. Broadway's Carol Woods sings ?Santa Baby?, vamping it up in a sultry Eartha Kitt style. Piano man John Sheridan sets sugar plum fairies in perpetual motion, and gets a standing ovation for his original "Nutcracker Rag". Providing the perfect tree-trimming, mood-lifting sound track for holiday magic, The Jim Cullum Jazz Band swings through classic carols, including "We Three Kings", "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "Joy to the World". All in all, it is a very Cool Yule.

Holiday Light: Singing Angels, Silver Bells

From William Zukof | 58:23

The music (Middle Ages, Renaissance, Appalachian to contemporary) and the performances by the Western Wind blew me away.

In this program, your listeners will get Christmas music and the Christmas story. While the music is consistently moving and engaging, the brief narratives read by Roma Downey might, for some stations and listeners, lean more towards religious-interpretive than a straight-forward telling of the Christmas story.

Knowing how we all hate surprises, I suggest you audition random narrative tracks to see if they fit your definition of holiday programming on your station. (On second hearing, the texts did not stand out as much.)

Again, musically speaking, this is one of your best bets for your holiday programming, and a most welcome addition to the public radio holiday music "catalog."

Worthy of almost any public radio format; schedule it morning, afternoon and night; ideal for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Hl1_small Holiday Light is a wonderfully diverse collection of holiday music from the Middle Ages and Renaissance to the present sung by The Western Wind one of America's preeminent vocal ensembles. The music is a delightful mix of familiar and historical songs and carols, including "Angelus ad Virginem," a popular carol from the thirteenth century; Spanish Renaissance motets and villancicos by Victoria, Guerrero, and Fernandes; early American music by William Billings; Appalachian folk songs and spirituals; and contemporary English and American carols. Featured are unique arrangements of the popular Christmas songs "Silver Bells," "Angels We Have Heard on High," and "Christmas Time is Here," created especially for the Western Wind. Guest host, Roma Downey, weaves together the music with a narrative that is informative, witty, fresh and moving. Ms. Downey became a household word through her portrayal of the angel Monica in the hit CBS television series Touched by An Angel. The narration was written by Reverend K Karpen, the spiritual leader of the Church of Saint Paul and Saint Andrew on the upper West Side of Manhattan, a well-known center of social activism. Karpen takes a relevant and charming approach to the themes and stories of Christmas that makes the events seem like they happened just yesterday.

BEAT LATINO 012 - Feliz Navidad!

From Catalina Maria Johnson | 58:47

Very nice, upbeat and effervescent holiday music, with a few fresh takes on some well known tunes. It's the spirit and charm of the music that carries you through the program -- it just happens to be Christmas music.

Host Catalina Maria Johnson mostly stays in the background and does her back announces in Espanol and English. (These are mostly brief and should not be too distracting for non-Spanish speaking listeners.)

This could fairly be described as a mostly mainstream Latin American music program. Suitable for eclectic music stations and other stations whose listeners' appetites have already been whet for music from around the world.

Beatlatino-navidad-111221_small Beat Latino, hosted by Catalina Maria Johnson, celebrates in every hour a different facet of the extraordinary diveristy of the Latin/Latino musical universe. From duranguense to salsa to flamenco - melodies and rhythms from Mexico to the Caribbean to Spain - this edition of Beat Latino presents tunes to celebrate the holiday. Guaranteed! Some of the most danceable versions of Christmas classics such as "Jingle Bells" , including a wonderful Cuban guaguanco version (percussion and voice) of "Little Drummer Boy" Broadcasts nicely in December.