CHICAGO —The soundtrack to Christmas in Chicago can be found on 93.9 LITE FM.
And thanks to a local computer programmer, residents now know which Christmas songs are played the most by the radio station during the holidays.
Matt Fitzgerald, a computer programmer and software developer from suburban Mount Prospect, developed a program that tracked every Christmas song played on 93.9 FM from Nov. 2 through Monday, when the Christmas marathon ended.
LITE FM switched to an all-Christmas format on Nov. 1 — the earliest it had ever done so — but a computer crash caused Fitzgerald to lose the first day’s data, he said.
Like many Chicagoland natives, Fitzgerald has listened to 93.9 FM around the holidays for much of his life. This year, he developed an idea to use technology to see what songs are most popular on the radio station.
“Growing up, you listen to 93.9 as the Christmas station,” said Fitzgerald, 24. “I got frustrated. I thought I kept hearing the same songs over and over. I wanted to see how big their song library is.”
Fitzgerald ran a computer script that scanned LITE FM’s website’s now-playing and recently played feature to compile data on all the songs the station plays. The data showed which songs were played the most, which showed some surprises.
For one, the most-played record is an instrumental, which are a rarity for most FM stations. “Carol Of The Bells” by Mannheim Steamroller was played 224 times over the roughly two-month Christmas music marathon, according to Fitzgerald’s data.
A version of “Carol of the Bells” by David Foster came in seventh on the list, being played 201 times.
The rest of the top 10 heavily skews to Christmas classics, including “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” by Andy Williams (released in 1963), José Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad” (1970) and “Jingle Bells” by Frank Sinatra.
The hugely popular “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey came in as the eighth most played song, which Fitzgerald said was shocking due to its ubiquity during the holidays.
“For the LITE being so pop and modern, it’s surprising to see some of those names up there,” he said. “I was very surprised Mariah Carey wasn’t the top one.”
The top records played differs slightly from the list of the most played songs, as multiple artists’ recordings of the same song appear on the lists. For example, two recordings of “Carol Of The Bells” placed in the top 10 most played.
The song that was most played on LITE FM this Christmas season was “Sleigh Ride,” with four versions of the song being played a combined 635 times.
Representatives from LITE FM and parent company iHeartMedia did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Here are the top 25 most played Christmas records on LITE FM this holiday season. For the entire list and more on Fitzgerald’s project, click here.
- “Carol Of The Bells” by Mannheim Steamroller: 224 plays
- “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” by Andy Williams: 222
- “Feliz Navidad” by José Feliciano: 218
- “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” by LeAnn Rimes: 215
- “Winter Wonderland” by Amy Grant: 211
- “Winter Wonderland” by Andy Williams: 201
- “Carol of the Bells” by David Foster: 201
- “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey: 199
- “Sleigh Ride” by Johnny Mathis: 198
- “Jingle Bells” by Frank Sinatra: 192
- “Ring Christmas Bells” by Ray Conniff: 191
- “Do You Hear What I Hear?” by Jordin Sparks: 191
- “Sleigh Ride” by The Ronettes: 189
- You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch by Thurl Ravenscroft: 181
- “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” by Dean Martin: 179
- “Jingle Bell Rock” by Brenda Lee: 179
- “White Christmas (feat. Clyde McPhatter & Bill Pinkney)” by The Drifters: 174
- “Last Christmas” by Glee: 170
- “Happy Xmas War Is Over” (Full Version)” by John Lennon: 169
- “Frosty the Snowman” by Ray Conniff: 147
- “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” by The Jackson 5: 141
- “Jingle Bells” by The Ray Conniff Singers: 139
- “Deck the Halls With Boughs of Holly” by Percy Faith: 135
- “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Darlene Love: 134
- “Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)” by Gene Autry: 134
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”: