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