It’s An Old-Time Radio Christmas Eve on 97.9 WHAV, Featuring a Local Connection

Fred Allen as Santa with comedian Jack Benny.

A Ford Motor Co. ad for Fred Allen in 1948.

WHAV continues its Christmas Eve old-time radio tradition with some familiar favorites along with a few offerings aimed at introducing a new generation to popular entertainers of the 20th century.

New to WHAV’s holiday lineup Friday, Dec. 24, but with radio careers spanning back to the 1930s and at least one local connection, are Fred Allen and Fibber McGee and Molly, played by Jim and Marian Driscoll Jordan.

Allen, born John Florence Sullivan in 1894 in Cambridge, hosted his own radio show between 1932 and 1949. His classic Christmas edition from 1937 features guest and faux rival comedian Jack Benny and a discouraged Santa Claus.

During the latter years of the show, Allen became good friends with Haverhill industrialist Louis B. Hamel. Their families vacationed together summers at the Belmont Hotel in East Harwich on Cape Cod. At Hamel’s urging, Allen, Hamel and other prominent business people even performed private “radio” shows for guests at the hotel.

Fibber McGee and Molly was a radio staple for more than 20 years.  In a classic episode from 1949, Fibber is determined to have the best decorated house in Wistful Vista for Christmas.

Christmas music until 6 p.m., Dec. 25, except as indicated below.

Christmas Eve, Friday, Dec. 24

7 p.m. Superman’s Christmas Adventure

From 1940, Superman helps a spoiled brat, unhappy with his toys, by introducing him to a poor boy who has no toys. First, however, Superman must stop Dr. Grouch and Mr. Meaney who set out to destroy Santa’s workshop and steal the reindeer.

7:30 p.m. Fibber McGee and Molly

Fibber sets out to install Christmas lights and decorations outside his house with hilarious results. Billy Mills and his Orchestra perform a Christmas medley and “Teeny” visits and leads carolers in singing “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

8 p.m. It’s a Wonderful Life

Jimmy Stewart returns as George Bailey in this radio adaptation of the 1948 movie. When Stewart regrets ever being born, his guardian angel grants his wish on Christmas Eve. Besides Stewart, others appearing are Donna Reed as Mary Hatch and Victor Moore as Clarence.

9 p.m. Miracle on 34th Street

Maureen O’Hara, John Payne and Edmund Gwenn, stars of the classic 20th Century Fox 1947 movie, return for this radio adaptation. In the story, Macy’s founder Rowland H. Macy insists a man named Kris Kringle (Gwenn) play Santa Claus in the store even as another store manager tries to have Kringle committed for believing he is the one and only Santa Claus.

10 p.m. Town Hall Tonight

The Mighty Allen Art Players, later the inspiration for Johnny Carson’s Mighty Carson Art Players on television, perform “Santa Claus Sits Down.” Beforehand, listeners are treated to Jack Benny’s efforts to sell his Maxwell to Fred Allen and performances by Basin Street Boys, singing “You Drove the Gloom Away,” Peter van Steeden playing “Limehouse Blues,” The King’s Men singing “Nobody Loves a Riveter but His Mother” and Eugene Lester performing “Rosalie.”

11 p.m. A Christmas Carol

Lionel Barrymore plays Ebenezer Scrooge in this 1939 Mercury Theater on the Air production of Charles Dickens’ timeless story, “A Christmas Carol.” Radio listeners closely identified Barrymore with the grouchy character since he performed the role almost every Christmas between 1934 and 1953.

All Christmas Eve programs are repeated at midnight.

Superman’s Christmas Adventure from 1940.

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