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106.1 The River

106.1 The River Presents Their 4th Annual Christmas Festival of Music

Beginning Christmas Eve at noon through Christmas Day at 6 pm

By Cindi Alpert

Ever since I was a child growing up in New Jersey, Christmas and music have always gone hand in hand. I remember listening to our favorite local radio station during the holidays that featured live performances from local talent. It was so thrilling to hear the names of people we knew from church, school, or the theater on the radio.

Today, music is still a huge part of our family holiday celebrations. When we play Christmas music throughout the house, it seems to bring everyone together, even the pets. Our bird, a rescue Yellow Naped Amazon Parrot, especially loves the Christmas Classic “Oh Holy Night.” She carries the tune rather nicely and sings it in her own words with a voice reminiscent of Ethel Merman. I admit, a little of our bird goes a long way, but now that she is part of the family, I couldn’t imagine Christmas without her squawking, I mean singing.

My husband, Jeff, and I decided to do something unusual in the radio industry, which has gone from local ownership to big corporate takeovers in the last 20 years since consolidation in the early 1990s. We created a special holiday program that features a mix of both classic and contemporary Christmas music performed by well-known as well as not so well-known national recording artists while adding in a healthy dose of both traditional and original Christmas music by local Knoxville musicians. All of the consultants told us we shouldn’t play local music during prime time, because listeners would tune out songs that were unfamiliar to them. After spending time in East Tennessee, we found that notion to be the opposite. We realize that there is a ton of local talent both here in East Tennessee and regionally and that the people who live here embrace it.

We decided to ignore the consultants and do something virtually unheard of… play what we want. We are coming up on our 4th annual Christmas Festival of Music and are more excited than ever as the audience for this program has grown exponentially. Thanks to live streaming on our website, the program can be heard worldwide. We have received letters and emails from all over the country commenting on the Christmas Festival of Music. Listeners tell us they like hearing original music by local artists and familiar Christmas music recorded by artists that do not get as much radio play as the chart toppers. They enjoy hearing the local musicians introduce their renditions of traditional music as well as their own original music.

Another thing that makes this show so appealing is that it is commercial free. Advertisers sponsor the program with a 15-second personal recorded greeting that rotates 15 times over a 30 hour time period, which works out to one message every two hours. Plus, advertisers are included in 10 days of produced promos promoting the show in advance. For a small business, it is a very affordable way to send a greeting card out to tens of thousands of people without using a single postage stamp… and it is very personal. In addition, they get their company name mentioned all over the radio station for a full 10 days leading up to Christmas.

Sponsors are invited to come into our studio to record their Christmas greeting. Some supporters bring their kids in to record. We even had a dog in the studio helping out with a Yappy Holidays message along with his owner who owns a Pet Resort. I’m thinking of putting my bird on my greeting this year. The only problem is that she has stage fright. She talks nonstop all day, but put her in front of a mic or video camera and she clams up.

The idea is that this program is designed to be the soundtrack to your holiday, beginning Christmas Eve at noon and running through Christmas Day at 6 pm, with no commercials – just great, hand-picked cool familiar Christmas classics, local original music, and special personal messages from our friends and neighbors in the community, all wrapped up and programmed with a whole lot of love from our staff at 106.1 The River.

The best part is being in a position to use this program to help fight hunger here in East Tennessee and beyond. Momentum Broadcasting is donating 20 percent of all sponsorship dollars to Scarecrow Foundation. When I first got involved in helping Scarecrow Foundation, I was so impressed by the number of concerned and engaged local civic and business leaders in our community that are passionate about this foundation. Scarecrow Foundation’s mission is “entertainment with a purpose,” and their events are not only a lot of fun, but they have made a big difference in our community and around America.

For information on how you can be a part of 106.1 The River’s Christmas Festival of Music, contact me at 865-246-3848. Sponsorship packages start at just $250. Help support local music, fight hunger, and make it personal. Listen live while you are traveling this Christmas season at www.river106.com.

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