Every December, Gerry Grzyb transforms into “Dr. Christmas” to bring a unique combination of holiday music to his listeners.
Since the founding of the “Dr. Christmas” show in 1989, it has grown from 20 hours to 39 hours of music, which is all provided through Grzyb’s 7,000-holiday CD collection.
“Christmas music is a mix of traditions reminding you of times in the past but also presenting something new,” said Grzyb, sociology department chair and professor at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.
This year’s program will air on WRST-FM 90.3 from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 19, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 20-24, and 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Dec. 26. It also will be broadcasted over UW Oshkosh’s Titan TV for Time Warner Cable (Channel 66) customers and on the WRST Christmas website, http://www.uwosh.edu/wrst/stream/index.html.
Sweet holiday sounds
Grzyb devotes the “Dr. Christmas” radio show to holiday music rarely broadcasted and airs a wide variety of recordings by artists who have performed in the area, Christmas CDs released this year and holiday tunes from numerous genres. It does not include traditional, popular tracks typically heard on the radio; nor does it include children’s music.
“The majority of music I play is not heard on major radio broadcasts, satellite radio or websites,” Grzyb said. “I found over time that there was a lot of really good holiday music being turned out by individuals without record contracts, and people just don’t realize how good this stuff is.”
When reviewing and deciding which tracks to play on the air, Grzyb said the track has to have certain characteristics.
“The quality comes down to the actual performance of the song as well as innovativeness. It is tough to write a Christmas song that sticks,” Grzyb said. “I always think, ‘What can you do to make me think I’m hearing this song for the first time?’ when it comes to rearranging traditional songs.”
Although Grzyb dedicates most of his time to higher education, his fascination with music has stuck with him since childhood. And what began as a simple idea of a Christmas program between finals week and the holidays grew into an annual program with listeners tuning in from around the world.
“I never planned or expected the program to take off like it did,” Grzyb said. “Now I have musicians sending me their music, and last year’s program drew listeners from Los Angeles, New York, Germany and Norway.”
Grzyb not only introduces new holiday tracks every year but also adds new features to the show. This year he will be tweeting the songs as they come on the air as well as giving away 50 CDs over the seven-day program.
Grzyb will read excerpts from LeAnn R. Ralph’s book, “Christmas in Dairyland: True Stories From a Wisconsin Farm.” He also will dedicate the Dec. 26 program to Boxing Day, a traditional holiday celebrated the day after Christmas throughout the world, by playing tracks from 27 CDs submitted by a British label.
“Every year there are new songs and CDs I receive from various individuals, and there are always new features listeners can look forward to,” Grzyb said. “The program truly delivers unique holiday music you can’t hear anywhere else.”