Some people start thinking about Christmas in October. Others wait for early November or at least until the Friday after Thanksgiving. Still more would prefer to hold off until the first week of December. But for Coloradans who love Christmas music, the season really starts on the day that Denver radio station KOSI 101.1 begins jingling the bells 24 hours a day.
This year, that day is Friday, Nov. 11, at noon, when the station will, for the first time, make its annual format switch in public, at Park Meadows mall in Greenwood Village.
“We start getting requests around Halloween from people asking us to change to Christmas music,” said KOSI station manager Jim Lawson. “That’s a little too early… And some people want us to wait until after Thanksgiving.” But that’s too late for the station, which has been decking Denver’s halls with 24-hours Christmas music for 21 years in a row now.
So KOSI reevaluates each fall in deciding when to go holly and jolly. In 2020, it rocked the bells early because people were still social distancing and coming off of eight months of pandemic depression. The weather or an early snowstorm can also play a part in the decision.
Current events, like this week’s divisive election, and our increasing attachments to our phones and the negativity on social media can also mean it’s harder for people to find joy to the world — or silent nights.
That’s why KOSI’s DJs try to be uplifting. “I believe in my heart that it gives a place for people to go and get away from all the noise and relax,” Lawson said.
The DJs don’t mind the music, either, he insisted. Although the station plans to keep playing Christmas jingles until New Year’s Day this year because of listener requests. “Most of the jockeys have had enough at that point,” Lawson said with a laugh.
But the listenership is no joke. The station gets more than one million people in Denver tuning their dials to 101.1 over the holidays, up from an average of 600,000 on a normal day.
Lawson himself likes the classics, like Andy Williams and Bing Crosby, but he says KOSI tries to play some deeper tracks and modern songs as well.
As for Mariah Carey, she’s number 12 on the list, he pointed out, so there may be a lot more people out there who want to hear her ever-present song than those who don’t.
Here are the top 21 most requested songs — one for each year that KOSI has been playing Christmas music — that the station received last year.
21) Nitty Gritty Dirt – “Colorado Christmas”
20) Jose Feliciano – F”eliz Navidad”
19) Celine Dion – “O Holy Night”
18) Burl Ives – “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer”
17) Vince Guarraldi – “Linus and Lucy”
16) Trans-Siberian Orchestra – “Christmas Eve Sarajevo”
15) Gene Autry – “Up On The Housetop”
14) Michael Buble – “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow”
13) Andy Williams – “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year”
12) Mariah Carey – “All I Want For Christmas Is You”
11) Leroy Anderson – “Sleigh Ride”
10) David Foster – “Carol Of The Bells”
9) Frank Sinatra & Cyndi Lauper – “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town”
8) Dean Martin – “Baby It’s Cold Outside”
7) Johnny Mathis – “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas”
6) Brenda Lee – “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree”
5) Bobby Helms – “Jingle Bell Rock”
4) Bing Crosby – “White Christmas”
3) Drifters – “White Christmas”
2) Burl Ives – “Holly Jolly Christmas”
1) Ronettes – “Sleigh Ride”
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