Radio Waves: December 22, 2023

Sounds of the holidays on tap

Just in time for Christmas, two tremendously popular programs have returned.

The first is Sounds of the Season, a jazz-oriented musical program that will air for 36 hours this year  – starting at 12 noon on Sunday, December 24th and running until 12 midnight on Monday December 25th. 

Wait … is it actually ending on Tuesday, December 26th? Let’s see … 12 noon plus 36 hours … let’s just avoid confusion and say that it ends at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, December 25th.

This year, like the last, the program goes syndicated – in addition to the airing on and San Diego’s KSDS (88.3 FM), it will also be heard in an abbreviated 24-hour-long version on KFRO/Longview, Texas (owned by the former chief engineer of KSDS), and is available to noncommercial stations nationwide if they’d like to run it.

The program features 95 years of holiday favorites covering the years 1928-2023 from such artists as Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Marcus Roberts, Wynton Marsalis, Diana Krall, Ramsey Lewis, Vince Guaraldi, and many more.

One of the highlights of the program is the annual reading of  “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” also known (or better known) as “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” This year, in addition to the traditional Chuck Niles reading  that airs every year, there will be a special reading from  Louis Armstrong, recorded in 1971 at 3 p.m., and a version from Frank Evans’ entitled “Nite Before a Hip Xmas” from 1959 at 9 p.m.. 

The Niles version, recorded in 1997, will air between the two at 6 p.m.; all three readings, of course, happening on Christmas Eve.

Who is Frank Evans? Glad you asked. Born and raised in New Jersey, Evans studied dramatic arts at New York University, and was an actor on Broadway. He also played drums in a combo before taking his passion for music to a career in radio. Stations worked include KRHM (now KTWV, 94.7 FM), KHJ (930 AM), KFI (640 AM), and KDAY (now KBLA, 1580 AM). I believe his recording was made while at KRHM. He passed away in 1973 at the age of 56.

Not to be outdone, the Top-40 Hit Clock ( is expanding its holiday offerings this year, adding a special selection of Christmas music airing for three hours at 10 a.m. on Christmas Eve, and again at 2:30 p.m. Christmas Day. The music is specially selected by former Drake Chenault alumnus, Dave Kephart.

But the big event is a replay of “Christmas at Our House.”

Hosted by Sonny Melendrez — remember him from KFI, the original KMPC (now KSPN, 710 AM) and Magic 106 (now Power 106 FM)?,  it features plenty of holiday music … tied together with interesting stories and vignettes about how Christmas is celebrated in various countries around the world. You’ll also hear interviews with musical artists and other celebrities talking about how they celebrate Christmas with their families. 

The program was produced by Drake-Chenault in the early 1980s, and was very well received … airing on hundreds of radio stations for many years. Unique and creative, it includes much more substance than the usual 50 Christmas songs repeated over and over.

The show runs about 7 1/2 hours, and will be presented over two days: Part One at 1 p.m. December 24th; Part Two at 7 a.m. December 25th.

That’s a Lodda Pasta

The annual KFI PastaThon ended up raising over $1.3 million and over 81,000 pounds of pasta and sauce. It all benefits Caterina’s Club, a local charity that provides more than 25,000 nutritious meals every week to children in need in Southern California, in addition to helping families get back into stable home environments and teaches teenagers the skills they need to work in the hospitality industry.

Chef Bruno Serato started Caterina’s Club, named after his beloved mother. He began providing meals in 2005 to children living with their families in local low-income motels because there was no way for them to make hot meals. Over the last 18 years, he has expanded his project to provide more than 25,000 meals per week in 100 locations in 30 cities across Southern California.

In case you were wondering, the dollar amount raised was roughly the same as last year at press time, but donations were still being counted so we don’t know if they officially beat last year’s record; you may remember that the goal was to beat last year by $1. The pasta and sauce donations, though, dwarfed last years’ take of 47,000 pounds … so I’d count that as a huge success no matter how you look at it.

Richard Wagoner is a San Pedro freelance columnist covering radio in Southern California. Email