Monday, December 18, 2006

Orion Samuelson - Christmas 45 - SINGLE

Our family weekend in Chicago was a blast - it brought back many great memories for my wife and myself, added new ones to our collection, and a brand new mess of memories with our kids for their folder.

As a kid who grew up in the Chicago area, I have memories so thick dealing with Christmas and Chicago radio that you'd need a whole new blog to catalog them all in.

WGN-AM (720 on your radio dial) is known as "Chicago's hometown radio station". It began broadcasting its 50,000 watt radio signal in 1924 - on clear nights, its signal can be heard as far away as South America!

Even though it pioneered the "news/talk" format long ago, the staggering variety of radio shows hosted on WGN is legendary - sports, news, cooking shows, radio dramas, you name it.

Since 1960, Orion (Oh-REE-un) Samuelson has hosted the farm report for WGN - helping the Midwest's farmers with crop prices, hog futures, and other agricultural news.

In this day and age of instant communication and technology, Samuelson is still at WGN broadcasting his farm report. Ponder this: the number three market in America, the number one radio station in Chicago, and they STILL broadcast farm reports!

Orion has several syndicated farm reports to his name, won hundreds of radio & television awards, and is a member of several radio & TV hall of fames.

His deep resonating voice is instantly recognizable to generations of Midwest farmers and Chicagoans and is no way the model for that other famous farm report radio legend Les Nessman.

Back in 1981, Orion decided to cut loose and have some fun. Gathering with some friends who called themselves "The Uff-Da Band", they re-recorded covers of Yogi Yorgesson's versions of "Jingle Bells" and "I Yust Go Nuts At Christmas" and issued them on Phonograph Records. If you look at the record label for "Jingle Bells", the songwriter credited is Samuelson - he's been around forever but NOT that long!

This 45 single probably never got past the borders of the tri-state area of Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana - as far as Iowa maybe. So to many who hear this, it's just a homemade cover of two forgettable Christmas songs.

However, to those who know and appreciate Orion Samuelson, this is the ultimate Christmas present. To hear such a straight-laced personality like Samuelson - who would have given Ed Sullivan a run for his money in the "stone-face / barely alive" department - doing something so far-fetched like singing a Christmas song will no doubtedly cause some smiles and chuckles out there.

Play this one on the farm and watch the crops and cattle go bad:

Orion Samuelson - Christmas 45 - SINGLE

Happy listening...



PDMan said...

Someone in Chicagoland gets a big high-five for naming their label Phonograph Records!

CaptainOT said...

PDMan - Reminiscent of the old 1950s label called "Horrible Records" with their motto:

"If it's a hit, it's bound to be a Horrible Record!"


Anonymous said...

Hi Capt,

There is more history to the Orion Samuelson Christmas record, if you are interested.

That 45 was sold to benefit the Salvation Army in Chicago. Orion, the musicians and the producer, Paul Gallos, never kept a dime from the sales. The real name for the band that backed Orion on the record was "Lino Frigo & The Musical Wheels."

Max Armstrong
Orion's associate
WGN, Chicago

CaptainOT said...

Max - What an honor! Thank you for the additional information on Orion's Christmas 45! Very much appreciated!

Hmmm... typed in at 7:20 AM. What a coincidence! :)


Scott said...

What did I expect from a farmer? Yumpin' Yiminney, this guy swaps more "Y's" for "J's" than John Qualen in "Grapes of Wrath." Absolutely hilarious, but only once! Great background info, too!

CaptainOT said...

Scott - When Max Armstrong came around in an earlier comment, I was thrilled.

When you started showing up, well...