An Old-Time Radio Yuletide: Hear 20+ Hours of Vintage Christmas Radio Shows (1938–1956)

As Christ­mas approach­es, we reach for our book­shelves and pull down Charles Dick­ens’ beloved tale of hard­ship, rev­e­la­tion, and a mis­er’s redemp­tion in the hol­i­day sea­son. I speak, of course, of The Crick­et on the Hearth, pub­lished in 1845 as the third of what would be Dick­ens’ five Christ­mas books. (The first, of which you may have heard, was A Christ­mas Car­ol.) From the very year of its pub­li­ca­tion, The Crick­et on the Hearth found great suc­cess as a stage pro­duc­tion, and it con­tin­ued to be adapt­ed even in the age of radio. The sto­ry was a cen­tu­ry old by the time it aired on NBC, in the broad­cast that opens the five-and-a-half-hour com­pi­la­tion of Christ­mas old-time radio above.

That video is just one of three uploaded in the past few weeks by the Youtube chan­nel An Evening of Old-Time Radio. It col­lects a vari­ety of Christ­mas-themed spe­cials and broad­casts from shows like Lux Radio The­atre, The Coro­net Lit­tle Show, and CBS Ceil­ing Unlim­it­ed (an avi­a­tion-pro­mot­ing wartime effort cre­at­ed by Orson Welles).

The sec­ond vol­ume fea­tures more than six hours of hol­i­day episodes from the hit series of the Gold­en Age of Radio, includ­ing sit­coms like Our Miss Brooks, The Life of Riley, Fib­ber McGee and Mol­ly, and its spin­off The Great Gilder­sleeve. Their char­ac­ters, much like their lis­ten­ers, strug­gle to do their shop­ping and orga­nize their par­ties — and amid it all, of course, find their way to the true mean­ing of Christ­mas.

The lat­est video in An Evening of Old Time Radio’s “Yule­tide OTR” series includes radio adap­ta­tions of It’s a Won­der­ful Life, which now defines the genre of the Christ­mas movie, fol­lowed by one of Dick­ens’ Christ­mas Car­ol. Sched­uled for release this Christ­mas day, the fourth install­ment promis­es yet more sea­son­al­ly appro­pri­ate sto­ries — with the req­ui­site gags, com­pli­ca­tions, and final swells of good cheer — from such mid-cen­tu­ry domes­tic come­dies as The Aldrich Fam­i­ly, Lum and Abn­er, and The Adven­tures of Ozzie and Har­ri­et. But as you’ll hear, nei­ther could thriller, mys­tery, and west­ern shows like The Man Called X, The New Adven­tures of Nero Wolfe, and The Six Shoot­er resist telling a Christ­mas tale — nor can we, all these decades lat­er, resist hear­ing one.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Hear The Cin­na­mon Bear, the Clas­sic Hol­i­day Radio Series That Has Aired Between Thanks­giv­ing and Christ­mas for 80 Years

Bob Dylan Reads “‘Twas the Night Before Christ­mas” On His Hol­i­day Radio Show (2006)

Hear 149 Vin­tage Hal­loween Radio Shows from the Gold­en Age of Radio

Hear 90+ Episodes of Sus­pense, the Icon­ic Gold­en Age Radio Show Launched by Alfred Hitch­cock

Dimen­sion X: The 1950s Sci­Fi Radio Show That Dra­ma­tized Sto­ries by Asi­mov, Brad­bury, Von­negut & More

Free: Lis­ten to 298 Episodes of the Vin­tage Crime Radio Series Drag­net

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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Comments (4)
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  • Jackie says:

    I am won­der­ing if these Old Time Radio shows you have on your site are avail­able for down­load­ing to my com­put­er. My fam­i­ly loves Old Time Radio and I enjoy lis­ten­ing to them when I am not on the Com­put­er. To me it is counter intu­itive to lis­ten on the com­put­er. I put them on a exter­nal hard dri­ve and play them on a radio that will play it and it gives me the Old Time Radio vibe that I remem­ber as a child.


    Jack­ie Schlageter

  • Stephen Anton says:

    Thank you.

  • Christopher says:

    Just Google YouTube to MP3 and there’s dozens of online sites that allow you to down­load YouTube con­tent.

  • Melissa says:

    I use a site called RUSC to down­load all of my favorite old time radio shows Jack­ie. You can lis­ten to them on your com­put­er, or down­load, and I do the same as you, because it real­ly takes me back to such a warm and com­fort­ing time in my life! You have to be a mem­ber, but it’s worth it for the use of the site, and the abil­i­ty to search for par­tic­u­lar shows or series, and see what you have already lis­tened to or down­loaded.

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