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On Christmas Eve, A Holiday Listening Party With Oedipus

Oedipus joins WGBH's Morning Edition anchor Joe Mathieu in studio
Karen Marshall/WGBH News

Longtime DJ and Boston radio programmer Oedipus joins WGBH's Morning Edition anchor Joe Mathieu to talk about his Christmas Eve music special, airing on 89.7 WGBH Radio beginning at 6 pm

Joe Mathieu: We're all looking forward to Christmas Eve around here, and not only because Santa is coming. Oedipus will be here too. And if you don't know Oedipus, you should. One of the most influential radio programmers, music curators in rock radio here in Boston, and around the country. A longtime DJ who now spends time with us here in Brighton at WGBH Radio. That's why they call it Christmas Eve with Oedipus. What an honor to have you in the studio.

Oedipus: My pleasure.

JM: So you're staying up late on Christmas Eve. You've been doing this for years and now you're doing it here. I've heard people describe what it's like — you alone in a studio, with a candle.

Oedipus: And a glass of red wine.

 JM: And that's it. Is that true?

Oedipus: There's no one allowed in the studio and I play the music really loud because you only hear these songs once a year. These are songs that I've been collecting over the years. I've selected them. I've eliminated the songs that just don't fit anymore. I mean in the day I play "Christmas Wrapping", it was on the Ze compilation album by The Waitresses. A great song. But I can't play that anymore because it's now overplayed.

JM: Okay, so, this is, people hear holiday music and they either love it or they're repulsed by it. You're taking a different angle and you're doing this, of course, as someone who spent a career as a progressive rock DJ. How do you attack Christmas music?

Oedpius: Well, I listen to hundreds and hundreds of Christmas songs every year and most of them are mediocre. Some are just downright awful. But there are a few gems that are just spectacular that enter what I consider the pantheon of great Christmas music, which I play. This truly is music that it's really different. There's mashups — for instance, I have a great mashup with the "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies" and "Wrecking Ball" by Miley Cyrus.

JM: Okay. Again, not carols.

Oedipus: No. How about, you know, "I Feel Santa." It's kind of a mash up of Donna Summer and Clarence Carter.

JM: That's what we're in for, huh?

Oedipus: As well as acoustic music, ethereal music, female vocalists. Great songwriters. Some rock. Definitely some hip hop, RnB.

JM: There's gonna be hip hop on Christmas Eve on WGBH?

Oedipus: Absolutely. Every type of music imaginable, and then we lead into, right afterwards, we go right into the full version of "The Nutcracker Suite" at midnight.

JM: Beautiful. When I grew up, trying to get into radio, Oedipus was the man. If you were a guy or gal trying to get into radio, Oedipus was the top of the mountain. You were a boss jock. You were the cool guy — not someone who necessarily would be associated with carols, yet this is something you've done for years.

Oedipus: It's true. It's kind of an anomaly because I love punk rock music and that's, I made my career on champing punk rock music and unusual music. But the same thing with Christmas carols because as a part time deejay I just wanted to work and I worked one Christmas Eve in the 70s, because no one else wanted to be on the air Christmas Eve, and I realized there wasn't enough good Christmas music so I started searching for it and volunteering every Christmas Eve to be on the air. And I really, really enjoyed it.

Oedipus: God, your staff must have loved at least we don't have to work Christmas Eve.

Oedipus: And no one was allowed in. Go home. Be with someone you love. Be with your family. Be with someone you care about and if not, just sit by the radio read your Dickins or just have a glass of wine and I'll create your soundtrack for you.

JM: How cool. So what time do we tune in on Christmas Eve?

Oedipus: 6 pm.

JM: 6 pm.

Oedipus: And we're going to midnight. We're going to welcome Christmas together.

JM:This is great. Now again, if you don't know Oedipus, he was the longtime famous programmer of the great and influential rock radio station WBCN, which changed the music business forever. What a great thrill to have you here. We're going to be warming up on Christmas Eve with the great Oedipus. And as I've been told, our listeners will be able to go to sleep with Oedipus and wake up with Henry Santoro. Can I ask you, is there a wine? Is there, do you always have a certain bottle of wine or will you pick that between now and then?

Oedipus: Oh, I definitely pick between now and then.

 JM: Okay.

 Oedipus: It's only one glass, remember.

 JM: Well, listen.

Oedipus: I have to nurse that all night long.

JM: I want to find out at some point what you're drinking on Christmas Eve. What a great thrill to have you in here. Thank you for talking with us. We can't wait to hear it. We're so glad to have you part of the WGBH family. Thank you Oedipus.

Oedipus: You're welcome, Joe.

Click the audio link above to hear the entire interview.


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