In a world where radio stations air Christmas tunes around the clock from Halloween to New Year's, can you imagine a full-time channel playing nothing but Hanukkah music? Now that would be a miracle!
Just such a miracle happened this week with the launch of "Smooth Hanukkah," a streaming audio channel from smooth jazz webcaster ChiTownSmoothJazz.com, a service of Kurt Hanson's Chicago-based AccuRadio Inc. And it arrives just in time: Hanukkah begins at sundown Dec. 11 and lasts eight days.
Billed as "the first radio channel in the world devoted entirely to the wonderful music surrounding the Festival of Lights," the "Smooth Hanukkah" online stream is the brainchild of Rick O'Dell, operations manager of ChiTownSmoothJazz.com and former program director and midday personality at WNUA.
"I've been playing Christmas music on the air since the early '80s," O'Dell said. "Every year I get requests for songs pertaining to Hanukkah. Trouble is, we never had enough Hanukkah music in a contemporary vein -- until now. The marriage of smooth jazz and Hanukkah has been nothing short of remarkable. In many cases, the result is simply entrancing."
The channel features jazzy versions of traditional Jewish holiday songs by such artists as Kenny G, Dave Koz, Bela Fleck and Ben Sidran, as well as original compositions. It's one of more than a dozen smooth jazz radio channels on the free site.
Host of "Smooth Hanukkah" is veteran broadcaster and ChicagoNow blogger Bruce Wolf, who's said to be quite a dreidel spinner himself.
"I am proud to be a Jew and to help out in any way I can with this effort," Wolf said. "As someone once pointed out, the Jews wrote a lot of the great Christmas songs -- 'White Christmas' by Irving Berlin, 'The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)' by Mel Torme. I'm pretty sure there never has been a Hanukkah song written by a Christian, though I'd have loved to hear a latke fugue by J.S. Bach. I'm grateful that I was asked to do this, and I'm hoping I'll be asked to intro the best of Purim Rock."
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