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Jon Solomo

By Gary Wien

Some people like Christmas music and some people really, really, really like Christmas music. I guess you can count Jon Solomon among the latter. For the past 16 years, Solomon has been manning the controls on Christmas Eve at WPRB (103.3 FM) for a 24-hour marathon of Christmas tunes.

The show got its start back in 1988 when he was still in high school. There was a big gap in the disc jockey schedule and Solomon volunteered to fill it. While the show wasn't 24 hours long in that first year, it was quite a challenge – especially for someone new to broadcasting.

"There was definitely holiday songs played," recalled Jon Solomon. "But there was also a lot of long songs played just to fill the time. It was one of the very first times that I'd done a radio show, so it was a feeling out experience. My plan was basically to go on late Christmas Eve and just stay on until the next DJ showed up in the morning."

Solomon had such a good time doing the show that it became an annual tradition. It quickly developed into a 24-hour marathon starting at 6pm on Christmas Eve and lasting until 6pm on Christmas Day. As the years have gone on, it's been easier and easier for him to find enough Christmas music to fill the show. He's found some things himself and has had tons of records submitted to him from music fans and artists themselves. The Internet has vastly helped his collection grow. Last year alone, one guy sent him 200 songs of obscure 45s that were turned into MP3s. Many of the records were ones not currently in Solomon's collection.

"The problem in the past was I had to play everything I had to fill up the 24-hours," explained Solomon. "But now I can be really selective. And if I had the stamina for it, I could certainly do a much longer radio show... But I think that 24 hours is long enough."

Through the years, the show has steadily gained new fans each holiday season. It's as much of a tradition with Jon's audience as it is with him spending the holiday at the station. Fans of his who have started families stay in touch with Jon to let him know that the entire family now listens each year.

Listeners who may have grown up in the Princeton area or went to school around here can now listen to the broadcast live on the web from anywhere in the world. And Jon's known as that "Christmas Marathon Guy." It's something that has taken on a life entirely of its own.

"I'm continually humbled by people's reactions to the show and the fact that it means something to such a large number of people year in and year out," he said. "When I started doing it, I never could have imagined it would have become what it has become. But now that it has, I take a great deal of pride in the show."

Getting through the marathon is easier than one might expect. Solomon describes it as a once a year experience for him that starts out with an easy 8-hour shift from 6pm to 2am. Between 2am and 10am is the rough ride each year. It's during this period that old friends or former DJs will drop on by – usually bringing something to eat or drink with them. It's also during this shift that he gets to spend some time with his fiancée (who comes to the station after visiting with her family on Christmas Eve.) The show has deep meaning for her as well since the couple got engaged on the air in 2003! Thankfully one of his listeners was taping the show (as many do each year) and was able to send Jon a copy.

"Usually it's not that bad," continued Solomon. "I don't really stay up for 24 hours as much as I did when I was younger, but I manage. People will phone in during the middle of the night just to make sure I'm still going and then the last handful of hours are just all adrenalin."

Jon's favorite Christmas song is an obscure track by a band from Iowa called The Law. The song, "What Did Santa Claus Bring You For Christmas?" has been on WPRB's play list for many holiday seasons. Solomon says it still ranks up there as the Christmas song most requested each year. One of the members of The Law went to Princeton and made a tape of the song and WPRB loved it. "It's just one of those really great sort of garage rock Christmas songs that would not have taken on a life of its own without WPRB," explains Solomon.

The show has largely been a success bcause there's something for everyone. Instead of solely playing rarities or just playing the most popular Christmas tunes, Solomon blends them all together. It's a recipe that has worked for over 15 years and shows no sign of slowing down. So turn on WPRB this Christmas Eve and see what all the fuss is about. Chances are, you'll start spending every holiday with Jon as well.

For more by this author, click here

State Theatre New Jersey presents Cirque Dreams Holidaze
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey presents Cirque Dreams Holidaze on Friday, December 7 at 8:00pm, Saturday, December 8 at 2:00pm and 8:00pm, and Sunday, December 9 at 2:00pm. Cirque Dreams Holidaze, a division of Cirque du Soleil, has become a critically acclaimed, state-of-the-art Broadway musical, and a fun-filled, holiday family show. Tickets range from $35-$98.
NJSO presents 2019 Winter Festival, 'Music Speaks'
(NEWARK, NJ) -- A trio of renowned guest artists with distinct musical voices—pianists Emanuel Ax and Daniil Trifonov and soprano Dawn Upshaw—headline the NJSO’s Winter Festival, “Music Speaks,” in January 2019. The Orchestra’s signature artistic event takes place across three weekends, January 10–27, in six New Jersey venues.
RVCC Chorale to Perform Annual Holiday Concert on December 8th
(BRANCHBURG, NJ) --The RVCC Chorale will give its annual holiday concert on Saturday, December 8 at 8:00pm in the Welpe Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College’s Branchburg campus. The program will feature Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantata, Das Neugeborne Kindelein, as well as a cappella pieces from by Sergei Rachmaninov, Zoltan Kodaly and Giuseppe Verdi. The program also will include an audience singalong of traditional carols.
Classic Stones Live! The Complete Rolling Stones Tribute Show Comes To SOPAC
(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- The Rolling Stones, the greatest Blues band of all time, couldn’t make it to SOPAC on their 2018 tour. Instead, the acclaimed tribute band Classic Stones Live! makes an appearance on the SOPAC stage December 15 at 8:00pm for those who like to hear their Rolling Stones hits live.
Tony Trischka Presents "Of a Winter's Night" at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- Of a Winter’s Night is Tony Trischka's acoustic celebration of the holiday season. Based on his CD release of the same name, this concert features Trischka’s considerable melodic inventiveness on a wide variety of seasonal tunes. He turns his inventiveness loose on bluegrass and Americana music for the holidays. This one of a kind concert will take place at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship on Saturday, December 8 at 7:30pm.

"An Amazing Musical Genius!" Brian Wilson LIVE! at the State Theatre
In the music room in the back of our house, there’s an electric bass and amp, two acoustic guitars, a microphone and PA speakers, several pieces of music recording equipment, and a bookcase filled with books on music, not to mention a slew of assorted music memorabilia. But, perhaps, one of the most highly prized items in the room is hanging directly above the piano next to the college music diplomas.
Jazz Saxophonist Don Braden LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s a breezy day for a new installment of the Jazz On a Sunday Afternoon concert series at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center of the Arts this Sunday Oct. 27, 2018 afternoon. Today’s special 3pm performance is entitled Earth, Wind and Wonder and is presented by jazz saxophonist Don Braden.
Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge LIVE! at The Strand, Lakewood
The stars are out this Saturday Oct. 26, 2018 evening in Lakewood, NJ for a “Golden Oldies” concert featuring Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge!
PODCAST: Grammy Winner Terri Lyne Carrington At TD James Moody Jazz Festival
Drummer, leader, and composer Terri Lyne Carrington made history as the first woman to win a Grammy for Best Instrumental Jazz for her album “Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue.” Now, she brings her interpretation of Duke Ellington’s “Money Jungle” to the TD James Moody Jazz Festival at NJPAC on November 11, 2018, as part of a program called “Jazz Vinyl Revisited.” Producer Susan Wallner talks to Carrington about her connections to the jazz greats Clark Terry and Max Roach; her newest project, the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice; and why she thinks drummers make natural leaders.
Sha Na Na LIVE! at the Newton Theatre
The audience is streaming into the Newton Theatre auditorium in Newton, NJ this Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 for a live concert starring Sha Na Na!

Event calendar
Thursday, Nov 15, 2018


New Politics @ House of Independents, Asbury Park - 8:00pm

THE REPUTATIONS @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

TOTO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 7:30pm

ANNIE, The Musical @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 7:30pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 7:30pm

Spring Awakening: The Rock Musical @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm


PARSONS DANCE @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm


Crybaby Matinee: March of the Penguins @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 11:00am

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