Television's 'Yule Log' Going National

Monday, Dec 13, 2004

Television's "Yule Log," a 38-year-old New York holiday tradition featuring a filmed loop of a roaring fireplace set to music, is going national this year on Superstation WGN, parent company Tribune Broadcasting said on Monday.

The Yule Log, which debuted in 1966 on WPIX Channel 11 in New York City and returned by popular demand in 2001 after a 12-year hiatus, will air again on its home station as a four-hour telecast on Dec. 25.

The holiday video offering has won its time period for WPIX in New York's local Nielsen Media Research ratings each year since its comeback three years ago.

The program, accompanied by holiday music, was first expanded from two hours to four hours last year. It also will be available for a second year in high definition on WPIX's digital channel, WPIX-DT Channel 12.

In addition, portions of the commercial-free broadcast will be carried nationally starting at 1:30 a.m. EST on Chicago-based Superstation WGN, which like WPIX is owned by Tribune Broadcasting. WGN reaches 65 million homes around the country through various cable and satellite TV systems.

The first yule log broadcast was a 17-second film of the fireplace at Gracie Mansion, then the official residence of New York Mayor John Lindsay. The film was later looped to fill a two-hour broadcast.

To bring the film back in 2001, it was completely remastered with the original collection of Christmas carols that had accompanied the log until 1989.

The yule log telecast was created by the late Fred Thrower, general manager of WPIX from 1953 to 1975.

"I thought about all the cave dwellers in New York, all the apartments that don't have fireplaces," he recalled in a 1988 interview. "I thought this might be a wonderful way ... to let people hear good Christmas carols and to have their own fireplaces burning."

Similar broadcasts have been carried on other stations around the country in recent years.