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Families will be transported back in time this Christmas season, as the Sam Houston State University College of Arts and Media will be reviving a holiday tradition of decades past.

Before the age of television, families gathered around the radio for their news and entertainment, and each holiday season, Sam Houston State University would put on a special program for its listeners at home.

Carols and radio-scripted plays that originally ran from the 1930’s-50’s will be brought into the digital age this Christmas with a new iteration on performances originally aired over 70 years ago.

“Radio plays are becoming much more popular these days, partially because I believe of the pandemic, so this is a trend across the nation,” Sam Houston State University College of Arts and Media associate dean Penny Hasekoester said. “The holiday is a good time to do it, so that’s one of the reasons we thought we’d bring something that was positive, happy and kind of joyous to present to the public.”

Three family-friendly scripts have been developed by the College of Arts and Media to air on-demand from Dec. 12-25, with pre-recorded performances by a small cast of 12 voice actors from the department of theater and musical theater.

The program will feature adaptations based on The Royal Gelatin Radio Hour, set in 1932 and hosted by Rudy Vallée; Santa Claus Sits Down, which was part of a 1932 radio hour originally hosted by comedian Fred Allen; and The Sick Shooter, a western radio play series from the 1950’s. With a short break of Christmas music played between each performance, the entire program is set to last about an hour-long.

“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, I think it’s a type of theater that was very effective in its time period, and I think its time period is coming back around,” Hasekoester said. “I hope it just gives people some positivity in this difficult world we’re living in right now.”

The College of Arts and Media holiday radio program is free for everyone and can be accessed online via the SHSU box office page. 

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