‘Yule Log’ still hot after 40 years on the air

There’s lots of Christmas-themed programming, everything from Miracle on 34th Street to the upcoming Rob Lowe made-for-TV movie A Perfect Day. But perhaps the most bizarre holiday “special” is Tribune Co.’s The Yule Log, originally produced in New York 40 years ago by WPIX but now shown on Tribune stations nationwide, including “superstation” WGN in Chicago, which is carried by many cable systems across the country. The “program” is a seven-minute loop of film that shows a fire burning in a fireplace, accompanied by Christmas carols and other holiday-themed music, with some easy-listening fare thrown in for good measure. The loop is repeated endlessly on Christmas Day for the viewing and listening pleasure of … who, I wonder. Those who lack a fireplace? Those too lazy or cheap to build a fire even if they have a fireplace? Or the Scrooges in the Tribune bean-counting department who insist on spending as little as possible on programming on a day when ads are cheaper because most people have a life and are living it instead of watching TV? Not to be outdone, and clearly sensing a void to be filled in the rapidly growing world of flat-screen TV owners, there’s now a competing high-def version. And naturally, the original is also on YouTube.

—Posted by Steve McClellan