While I can rail against the annual, and ever earlier, onslaught of Christmas music clogging the airwaves as much as anyone else, I do have a soft spot for some holiday radio traditions.
One was when WLUM-FM reggae and soca DJ Nigel Scott would dust off his copy of "Natty Christmas," by Jacob Miller and Ray I, and other Caribbean holiday gems every December.
Another is 96.5 WKLH-FM veteran disc jockey Steve Palec’s annual Christmas special, which airs the Sunday before Christmas. The live Rock & Roll Roots Holiday show will be broadcast live on Sunday, Dec. 17 from 9 a.m. until noon.
To make the extravaganza happen, Palec invites friends and notables to join him in the studio for an open house. It’s not only to make radio magic, but help out a cause. This year, he’s encouraging his special guests to take a break from the food, surprises and cheer – and the airwaves – to ante up for the MPS Foundation.
"Every year – going on 31 – on the Sunday before Christmas I always do a Christmas special," Palec says. "My main motivation is the case of awesome Christmas CDs, albums, tapes and 45s I've accumulated."
But, Palec isn’t just spinning Macca’s "Wonderful Christmas Time" and the Boss imploring you to be good for goodness’ sake. He always aims to do something a little unique.
"One year I did a Steve & Abdul WQFM reunion," recalls. "Another was Swedish Sauna Special – you have to google that tradition – all-request show, 1970s Christmas and even created various Christmas albums that should have been made."
"For example, an All Beatles Xmas using solo cuts but with album crackling sound effects between the songs."
Palec continues: "About 10 years ago I did a Holiday Party show. Willy Porter and Greg Koch sat in. I had a few other guests. My favorite part was Mark Concannon – at the time a Fox6 anchor – coming in. Since it was -10 wind chill, and anchors always seem to relish in seeing field reporters outside in nasty weather, I had him do his on-air portion outside from the parking lot. He was a great sport."
This year, Palec says, he’s returning to the open house format, but upping the ante.
"Since the radio recall period is much less than 10 years, I'm doing it again, but better, with an actual open house party with food, drinks, surprises and a whole bunch of invites. No idea who or how many show up – the more the merrier – but it will be an authentic on-air holiday party.
"I'm confident in my ad-lib ability to avoid any follow up from the authorities."
Tune in Sunday morning to enjoy the festivities.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.