Friday, December 4, 2015

25 More Days of Old Time Radio Christmas: Day 4 - All is Bright (the story of Silent Night)

Made it to day four!  And I am going back to the CBS Radio Workshop - one of the best programs from the late 1950s.  Once again, I am showcasing more Christmas themed shows from Old Time Radio's golden age.  Here is a link to all the 2014 OTR Christmas entries.  If you have Sirius/XM, you can listen to Greg Bell's Old time radio channel (#148).  He does a great job of showcasing great holiday themed episodes, especially as we get closer to Christmas and the end of December.

173/365/903 (December 1, 2010) - Wanda under the Christmas Tree
Wanda the cat under the Christmas tree (2010)

Well, here we are on December 4th and instead of having someone play Santa, I thought I would go in a different direction.  Last year, I showcased the Hallmark Playhouse's version of the way the Christmas masterpiece Silent Night was written.   This year, I am tapping the telling of the story from a slightly different point of view.  In All is Bright, The CBS Radio Workshop tells the story on how the song Silent Night became the loved and well known Christmas song that it is known today.

The CBS Radio Workshop continued the tradition at the network to produce some of the most innovative programs on radio.  The program was intended to provide a link back to the Columbia Workshop days and Norman Corwin and provide amazing drama "dedicated to man's imagination, the theater of the mind" In 1956, CBS returned to the airways with a program that would cement their network as the home for innovation.   Starting in January 1956, the CBS Radio Workshop would be on the air for 86 episodes through September 1957.  The CBS Radio Workshop was designed not to be commercially lucrative, but to find a place where the network could put on cutting edge works that might not match with a sponsor's goals.  The 30 minute program started out with a two-part adaptation of Huxley's Brave New World and featured many original and adapted programs.  These features great radio talent and special effects that were the best in the business.

The episode we are featuring today is titled All is Bright.  It starts aboard an ocean liner on Christmas Eve.  A big band on the ship entertaining the guests on the liner start playing Silent Night in a big way.  Upon hearing this, an older guest on the ship beckoned them to stop.  Turns out this guest was a famous conductor who was well versed in the way that Silent Night should be played.  It is a peasant song - one without pretension.  It was even called the song from Heaven.  What they proceeded to do was not to talk about how the song was written, but how it was spread from a small Austrian village to be one of the best known Christmas songs ever.

Sid Garfield of CBS Radio wrote an article in the January 9, 1957 edition of Variety (p102) called "Please State Previous Experience."  This article was about giving young writers in radio a break.  He wrote"
Paul Roberts, executive producer of CBS Radio's Workshop, for example, is consistently sympathetic towards inexperienced writers, no matter how dubious or nonexistent their credits.  This hospitality has paid off.  Just recently, an obscure scriptist named Henry Fritsch sent in several bare outlines of notions he felt, if developed, would enhance the Workshop series.  
One of these ideas was All is Bright, I think you will agree with Garfield that taking the chance on this script idea was a great idea.  I hope you enjoy this beautiful story behind this beautiful song.

    25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2015) & Other Links

    25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2014)

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