Do you know what this is? Until this week, I had never seen it, so it was a surprise to me. Here’s a newspaper clipping that will give you an idea.
The year was 1967, and Col. Parker dreamed up the idea for the Elvis Presley Special Christmas Program. A year later, Elvis would present his famous TV special, but this one was for radio. The picture above is a reel-to-reel tape recorded by RCA that Parker had sent to radio stations all over the country.
At this point, Elvis had recorded just one album of Christmas music: Elvis’ Christmas Album in 1957:
For the special, they used six of the twelve songs on it:
Here Comes Santa Claus
O Little Town of Bethlehem
I’ll Be Home for Christmas
In June 1966, Elvis recorded the single If Every day Was Like Christmas, and it also appeared on the Special Christmas Program:
The radio special also included the title songs of these two albums:
But the special had more than just songs. Here is the sequence as shown on the box came in:
Everything was planned out: a five-second musical intro, then the disc jockey talks for 27 seconds, then a song, and so on.
This is the front page of the complete DJ script for the special. Here are the rest.
Note that the tape included a long message from actor Dale Robertson for Christmas Seals.
The script frequently reminds listeners to buy those Elvis Christmas and sacred albums at their local record dealers.
There were no breaks for regular ads, but the DJ script got in plugs for Elvis records and even his current movie Clambake. I believe Col. Parker wrote this script, and he got his name into the text twice. He also was clever to allow one minute at the end of the program for local public-service announcements.
This is a poster that went out to record stores to promote the special. It says “more than 2,000 stations” but the news article above says 3,000. I guess the number was hard to determine because airing the special was up to the stations. However, to help motivate them, Col. Parker sent station managers 100 Elvis Presley Christmas cards, fifty 1968 Elvis Presley calendars, a package of Christmas Seals, and catalogs of Elvis albums and 8-track tape cartridges. That would have motivated me.
Graceland is big on celebrating anniversaries of all things Elvis. Maybe next year they will present a 50th Anniversary edition of this radio special. With today’s technology, they could have George Klein do the DJ part and offer it as a new download available through an app to our smart phones. That would be cool, too.
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