JOLIET – Marking 23 years of tradition, the University of St. Francis will kick off its free 24-hour “Spirit of Christmas” radio program at noon on Thanksgiving Day.
Don Burke, the university’s longtime programming director, said the tunes heard on WCSF 88.7 FM from now until Jan. 2 won’t likely mirror that of the typical Top 40 Christmas station.
“Instead of having three versions of ‘White Christmas,’ we have 30 or 40 versions,” he said. “We’ve always looked for unusual songs or songs that would spark someone’s childhood memory that you wouldn’t often hear on the radio. ... It’s one of our biggest draws.”
But no worries: The student-run radio station also will play the holiday favorites such as Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.”
The program features commercial-free music, from the classics to current hits. Also featured will be local choirs and bands.
Listeners can make requests at selected times by calling 815-740-3214.
‘Hardrock, Coco & Joe,’
In all of the program’s existence, a particular song always ranks each and every year at the top of the Christmas tree, so to speak.
And that’s “Hardrock, Coco and Joe,” a 1950s Chicago holiday classic.
“It winds up being the most popular song every year,” Burke said, noting how loyal and new listeners alike vote for their top 25 favorite tunes during the station’s Christmas Eve program.
Another favorite is a daily radio program at 6 p.m. called “The Cinnamon Bear.” The classic 1937 children’s radio drama features two twins’ search for the silver star, he said.
“We’ve gotten phone calls from some of our older listeners who remember running home from their paper route to listen to this on the radio when they were children,” Burke said. “It’s definitely one of our biggest traditions.”
“Spirit of Christmas” was started in 1993 by Bob Zak. Burke, who took over in 1999, said the station will be broadcasting Friday at Joliet’s Light Up the Holidays Parade and Festival.
“Spirit of Christmas” is the major fundraiser for WCSF-FM. The station is a nonprofit educational radio station reliant on donations and the generosity of local business to support and underwrite the holiday programming, according to the university’s website.
Every evening until Jan. 2, the station offers various themed Christmas holiday programming beginning at 7 p.m. For a full listing, visit www.stfrancis.edu/spirit/schedule.
DAILY — 5 AND 6 P.M.
• Cinnamon Bear: The classic 1937 children’s radio drama featuring the quest for the silver star
SUNDAYS, DEC. 6 to DEC. 20 – 7 P.M.
• Christmas in Our Town: Three hours of requests and dedications
• Top 25 Christmas Songs of 2015: A countdown of your Christmas favorites of 2015 – Noon
• Snoopy vs. the Red Barron – 5:30 p.m.
• Cinnamon Bear: The exciting conclusion – 6 p.m.
• Christmas Eve with Bing Crosby & Friends – 7 p.m.