For devotees of The Yule Log, no introduction is necessary. But for those who are just now becoming acquainted with this beloved New York tradition, here’s a little history.
The Yule Log was the 1966 brainchild of the innovative general manager of WPIX-TV in New York, Fred M. Thrower. It was created in particular for city dwellers who lived in apartments without fireplaces and couldn’t enjoy the warmth and cheer of a festive holiday fire on Christmas Eve. The televised video of the roaring, happy fire was accompanied by some of the greatest Christmas music ever recorded – it was truly the first music video! The program aired in various forms and lengths from 1966 through 1989. Then, in 2001, to the great delight of its loyal and dedicated fans, it was brought out of hiatus by WPIX for the first Christmas after 9/11. To the surprise of the station, the return of The Yule Log was an incredible ratings success. It was then syndicated to all Tribune Broadcasting affiliates around the country. In 2003, the program began airing in High-Definition.
Then, in 2006, to commemorate The Yule Log’s 40th anniversary, my former partner on TheYuleLog.com website, Joe Malzone, and I were given the honor from WPIX to restore the audio portion of the program, which had degraded significantly over the years. In addition to this, it had also over the years been edited down from its original 3-hour length to a paltry 2 hours. That all changed in 2006 with our audio restoration. The program can now be heard on Tribune stations across the country in its entirety – uncut, unedited and digitally re-mastered.
The following is a collection of stories on how this beloved program forever touched the hearts and lives of some average Americans, including yours truly. They were compiled by Mr. Thrower’s son, Mitch Thrower, who today is a successful entrepreneur, philanthropist and triathlete. He is diligently and lovingly dedicated to preserving the legacy of his late father, and this compilation of stories is a splendid result of that dedication.
Keep the spirit of Christmas all year through.
Lawrence F. “Chip” Arcuri
Owner/Webmaster of TheYuleLog.com
Please note: Stories are being accepted on an ongoing basis; so, if you have a story to share with us about your heartwarming memories of growing up with the Yule Log, please email it to me at email@example.com.
Story from yours truly, Chip Arcuri:
We all know that a big part of what makes Christmas so special is the wonderful memories we have of Christmases past. So, I thought I'd share some memories that I personally have with regard to The Yule Log, which will forever endear me to the program, and always make it burn in my heart, evoking tender, poignant, and yes – sometimes even wistful memories.
My favorite recollection is just sitting around the living room, relaxing with my family on Christmas Eve, while watching The Yule Log and just reveling in the splendor of the great music that was emanating from every TV and radio in the house, which I had previously turned on and preset to Channel 11 and 102 FM respectively. Occasionally, the conversation would be punctuated with a question to me about a song playing – yes, even then, as a young, avid collector, I was answering questions about the music of The Yule Log. But the most endearing memories of all were those of watching The Yule Log with the family members in particular who have since departed.
I posted this story several years ago on the Yule Log.com message board, and now I'll include it here for this occasion as well. It was from a Christmas Eve many years ago in the mid-1970s. I don't quite remember the year, but it’s not germane to the story anyway. My paternal grandmother always liked to play cards. So, she gathered a few of us together for a game, and as she and I, along with several of my siblings, were playing in the kitchen, Percy Faith's "Gesu Bambino" began to play on The Yule Log. Well, needless to say, I just had to excuse myself for a moment so I could steal away and join the others in the living room to sit for a quiet moment while it played. Even then, Percy Faith was my all-time favorite, and I regarded him as the greatest Christmas music artist ever – and this was when my Christmas album collection was only about 1/4 of what it is today. So now, every time I hear "Gesu Bambino" by Percy Faith, it reminds me of that special moment with my late grandmother, when we were playing cards while enjoying The Yule Log, on that Christmas Eve over 30 years ago.
You see, because The Yule Log has always been such an integral part of our family’s Christmas celebratory tradition year after year, when watching The Yule Log today, for me, it’s like taking that proverbial trip down memory lane – as it evokes countless personal and poignant memories that I’ve accumulated over the years. Even during the time when it was off the air, The Yule Log tradition still went on in our house via a Beta tape that I had made of the program years before. Christmas would not be Christmas without it; in fact, in our house, Christmas couldn’t even start without it! That’s why I was so proud of my role in the restoration of the audio soundtrack for its 40th anniversary in 2006. It is such an irony that because of the musical influence The Yule Log had on me, the corresponding records that I bought as a result would later be critical for the program’s restoration some 30 years later. This was especially fortuitous as 34 of the 70 selections on the soundtrack are now out of print – and of these 34, some are extremely hard to find today. However, because Christmas music has always been the great joy and passion of my life, it should come as no surprise to anyone that I had every single one of them in my collection. Like I said at the time, I’m very, very proud.
I couldn’t even think of ending this story without expressing my sincere and heartfelt thanks to Mr. Fred Thrower, for not only creating this wonderful program and tradition (and for the profound way it has touched our lives), but also for the exquisite taste he brilliantly exhibited in choosing its music. Without this great music, The Yule Log would not have become what it is today. His choice of music was unquestionably beyond reproach.