Catching up with Jon Solomon of WPRB, Philly’s (other) Christmas marathon DJ

Jon Solomon on the air on WPRB with his daughter Maggie | courtesy of Jon Solomon

Every year, while all of you who celebrate Christmas are at home with your family and friends – and those of you who don’t celebrate are getting Chinese food and going to the movies – Jon Solomon is hanging out deep in the basement of a building on Princeton’s campus, blasting out holiday tunes over the airwaves of WPRB 103.3FM for 25 straight hours.

For many people, Jon Solomon 25-Hour Holiday Radio Show on WPRB is just as much part of their holiday tradition as decorating the tree or exchanging gifts… or Chinese food and the latest blockbuster film. It begins at 5 p.m. on December 24th and runs through 6 p.m. on December 25th. For fans of DJ Robert Drake’s The Night Before on WXPN, overlap isn’t too extensive — Drake is on hour 17 of 25 when Solomon begins his shift, and it’s easy (and fun) to bounce between the two.

For Solomon, his playlist is not (just) the Christmas music of your youth. While he does end up playing a lot of traditionals, or at least covers of them, he’s constantly on the hunt for songs he hasn’t heard before. Sometimes that’s an actual new track and sometimes it’s one from years ago that just hadn’t popped up before. There are also short stories about the holidays recorded by both strangers and friends, including some pretty well-known names that speak to the fact that Jon has been a highly-regarded DJ on a highly-regarded college radio station for a very long time.

We caught up with Jon two weeks before this year’s marathon — his 29th — to talk about being on the radio for three decades (he started at WPRB as a teenager), his love of Christmas music despite his Jewish background, and his upcoming holiday-themed DJ night at Johnny Brenda’s, which happens tonight from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Find out more about Jon and the marathon over on his website. Continue reading →


24 Hours of Christmas Music: DJs Jon Solomon and Robert Drake share their experience with holiday marathons

Jon Solomon and Robert Drake | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN |

Holiday music is everywhere this time of year. It blares through every store in the mall and every car radio stuck in that 9 to 5 bumper-to-bumper, all in hopes of keeping the mood cheery and festive. But where does that cheer go when the same songs play in an incessant loop to the point where insanity may very well ensue? Simply turn the dial to either 103.3 or 88.5, where two marathon DJs that will be taking over the airwaves for 24 non-stop hours on Christmas Eve.

Jon Solomon and Robert Drake have been doing it for years and it seems there is no end in sight. Solomon, a radio personality for Princeton’s student-run station WPRB, began his holiday marathon twenty-six years ago when he was fifteen years old and hasn’t missed a year since. This year, he even upped the ante to a 25-hour special.

Inspired by Solomon, Robert Drake began his 12-hour holiday show at WXPN 22 years ago, and it eventually turned into a 24-hour marathon. The Key got the chance to speak with both of the DJs about the perks of the marathons, their favorite non-traditional holiday tunes, their shared love for the Dr. Who Christmas special and just how they manage to make it through all those hours without a nap. Continue reading →