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Songs Of The Season Herald The Holidays

Bloomington stations WHCC and B97 have learned over the years that finding the time to start playing Christmas is easier said than done.

Pretty much everyone has a favorite holiday tune.

We asked Sunny Fass, Phillip Duffield, Nate Johnson, and Forrest Fowler their favorite Christmas songs in Bloomington's Downtown Square.

For many, holiday music conjures a very specific kind of nostalgia — one that Bloomington radio station program director Kevin Stockbridge says is often associated with those classic Christmas tunes.

Think of artists like Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole.

“Someone hears "White Christmas" and they think of Grandma’s house, you know, listening to that," Stockbridge says. "They hear "Wonderful Time of Year," and they have that effect of mom in the kitchen doing mom-things, or making crafts. But I think it just gives everyone that sense of home — that sense of comfort if you will.”

There’s something missing when listeners turn on their radio during the season, though.

New, modern Christmas songs are largely nonexistent. Often, contemporary artists cover the old standards instead of writing original holiday songs. Stockbridge says that’s because of a “do you what you know” mentality in the music industry, but he says that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“Like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. There are 12 different versions of it, but everyone always wonders how Ariana Grande sings that," he says. "It’s pretty cool to see how each artist has their own unique take on the song.”

WHCC and B97, where Stockbridge works, begin playing Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving.

But WHCC Operations Manager Rick Evans says even then, listeners won’t hear all Christmas music all the time.

“We do about three to four songs an hour from Thanksgiving up until Christmas Eve" he says. "And then Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, it’ll be nothing but Christmas music, and then we go back to the regular format after that.”

Evans says striking the perfect balance of Christmas and non-holiday songs is a process of trial and error.

But sometimes, people still make complaints that it’s too much or that they’re playing holiday music too soon.

“I’ve had, 'Thanks, but that’s quite a bit of Christmas music,' all the way to answering the phone and getting, 'You’re killing me. Just stop it with the Christmas music. It’s too early,'" Evans says.

On Bloomington’s downtown square, that uncertainty is easy to find. So for now, the debate continues.

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