Thanks, Rob; this thread gives me the opportunity to publically post two messages I sent as a group email to members of the message board. The first one I sent yesterday, prior to the airing of today's story on CBS, and the second one I sent today as a follow-up.
I was contacted earlier this month by CBS news producer Anthony Laudato requesting an interview for their Sunday Morning news program about a story they were doing on the Yule Log that was to air December 14th. The primary points to be covered were the history of the Yule Log, my own personal story of growing up with the program, my role in the restoration of the soundtrack, and finally, the current controversy over the introduction of WGN America's new Yule Log program. I agreed to the interview and they were scheduled to come to my home on Tuesday, December 9th to film it. I was told the person conducting the interview would be CBS news correspondent Mo Rocca.
However, the following weekend after I spoke to CBS, I recalled something peculiar that Mr. Laudato had said in the phone call when he told me who would be conducting the interview: he said "The interview will be conducted by Mo Rocca, but it will be a serious piece." Not knowing much about Mo Rocca, I decided to see what I could find of his work on YouTube, and I found plenty. I discovered that he had a YouTube channel called Mo Rocca180 where he has posted quite a few videos, some of which were stories he had done for the CBS Sunday Morning news magazine. I perused his videos and after an extensive search I could not fine one story which was done in a serious, straightforward manner. They were all done with a comical, humorous slant. After reading some articles about him, I learned that basically this man is a comedian, political satirist -- and as described on Wikipedia -- a self-styled "fundit" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mo_Rocca).
Therefore, as a result of these revelations, and because I now had uncertainty about the integrity of the piece, I called Laudato back, and without giving him the actual reason why, I declined the interview. As a result, he said they would probably have to drop the piece altogether because all they now had left for the story was the interview they did with WGN's Sean Compton (which they went ahead and traveled to Chicago to film a couple of days after I agreed to participate in the story). In lieu of myself, my recommendation to them was to interview WPIX VP/GM Betty Ellen Berlamino. I felt this would at least be a good counterbalance to the interview they did with Compton. I also suggested Yule Log founder Fred Thrower's son, Mitch Thrower. I had called Mitch and he told me that he would do the interview, but with certain ground rules of how it would be presented. I forewarned him, of course, that with the media there are really no guarantees, as they feel you are getting free national publicity. By the way, I had also offered the opportunity to Joe, but he felt exactly the same way I did and declined to do the interview as well.
As for me, even though I know this interview would have been great publicity for the show and website, I will not risk being a party to anything that casts the Yule Log in a frivolous or a comical light. I haven't spent the last half-decade preserving, protecting and defending the legacy of this great program via my audio restoration, website and message board for it then to be compromised by a spurious interview. I can't say categorically that would have happened here, but the signs were definitely there. Unfortunately, both Joe and I know full well that there are many people out there who ridicule the Yule Log, or worse, snicker and sneer at it. Then too, there are others that just think it's a big joke. Sadly, these folks just don't get it as they either didn't grow up with the program; have no interest and/or poor taste in Christmas music; don't like the Christmas season; or perhaps a combination thereof. In my opinion, laughing at the Yule Log is like laughing at somebody's religion -- especially because many of the songs on the program are the traditional, reverent and sacred carols of the holiday.
In addition to all this -- and equally important -- is that if indeed the primary angle and focus of this story was the controversy over WGN's new Yule Log program, that is especially something which I don't find to be a humorous or frivolous matter. I have received so many emails from folks around the country who are hurt, disappointed and angry that they will not be able to see the original Yule Log broadcast this year. Not to mention all the message board members who have filed posts lamenting the fact that they now have no outlet to view the program. Out of sensitivity and respect for these folks, I could not lend credence to something that appeared to take this matter lightly.
As a result of my cancellation, they were forced to rescheduled the story to be broadcast this Sunday, December 21st, as they needed time to find someone else to interview. I personally hoped that they would just cancel the piece altogether, as I really don't want to see WGN America get any free publicity for their knockoff Yule Log. As of tonight, as I write this email to you, I still don't know whether or not they will be going ahead with the story this Sunday. My only regret in not doing the interview is that it would have given me an ideal forum to rebuke WGN for their decision to jettison the original program.
By the way, I thought you might like to know that Anthony Laudato told me that Sean Compton conceded to him that he had received quite a few messages from viewers who expressed their displeasure over their decision not to air our original Yule Log program. Let's just hope that he receives enough for them to reconsider their plans for next year.
On another matter, in case you didn't see it, I just wanted to let you know that last week I posted a new edition of "Chip's Tips" on the website. Here is a link for your convenience: http://www.theyulelog.com/htmls/chip.html
Have a good weekend, everybody.
I saw late last night that the CBS Sunday Morning website showed that Mo Rocca's Yule Log piece was scheduled to air after all. It was listed as "Mo Rocca on the Yule Log." When I saw that, I was convinced more than ever that he was going to give it his usual humorous and satirical spin, but after seeing the piece it really wasn't too bad.
My biggest problem is that after I declined the interview, CBS did not go ahead with an interview with WPIX station manager Betty Ellen Berlamino. Therefore, in the end, they had nobody to offer as a rebuttal to WGN's Sean Compton. Personally, I believe it was because they were miffed that I had cancelled the interview. In fact, they didn't even mention the website and only showed a passing glance at the message board.
My suspicions were correct that the main focus of this story was strictly on the angst and controversy over the introduction of WGN's new Yule Log program. Mo Rocca did not talk about the origin and history of the Yule Log, the show's creator Fred Thrower, nor was any mention made to our audio restoration in 2006. This convinces me all the more that if I had done the interview, they would have focused only on my critical remarks of WGN and their sacrilege as a result of their misguided decision to replace the original program with yet another spurious knock-off.
By the way, if that clip they showed in this story is the actual fireplace footage that WGN filmed for their new program, they ought to be ashamed of themselves. That fireplace footage is utterly pathetic and ridiculous. I mean, you have really got to be kidding. And people are getting paid for this nonsense at WGN?
Well, it looks like we'll have to fight to get the program restored to WGN. But that's nothing new for us; we had to fight 11 years to get WPIX to bring the program back here in New York -- and thanks to Betty Ellen Berlamino, they did. With regard to this fight with WGN, I can only promise you one thing: we might not win, but we'll definitely go down swinging.