Church Recreates Classic Radio Christmas Production

MERCER ISLAND, WA (December 20, 2010) – A recent Christmas production produced by Mercer Island Covenant Church hearkened back to the golden age of radio when members reproduced “Little Town of Bethlehem.”

“We did it on stage at church in front of a live audience using old-fashioned microphones and old-fashion radio studio sound effect techniques,” says pastor Greg Asimakoupoulos. A live studio band performed the background music.

The church performed the radio play for their annual dessert theater. “The script had us pretending that we were producing a radio show,” says Asimakoupoulos. Church member David Selvig, a retired Boeing engineer who is pursuing a professional acting career, directed the actors.

“Little Town of Bethlehem” was first aired in 1933 as part of the CBS radio First Nighter program. “It was so popular, people wrote in requesting that it be repeated,” says Asimakoupoulos. As a result, the performance was broadcast almost every Christmas for the next 20 years until the First Nighter program was dropped.

The Mercer Island actors performed the version that was broadcast December 22, 1945. It was the first Christmas following World War II, which had ended just a few months earlier.

Covenanters can hear the Mercer Island production at 4 p.m. Friday (PST) by accessing the Internet site of KGNW-AM. The show is being broadcast during the first hour of the “Live From Seattle” program.

In the original program, Mr. First Nighter was the host who invited the listener to join him as he went to The Little Theatre off Times Square in New York City. The show was sponsored by Campana Cosmetics, which later was sold to several successive companies. The art deco factory that housed Campana’s headquarters still stands in Batavia, Illinois, just down the street from The Holmstad, a Covenant Retirement Community.

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  1. I’m interested in the script you used. We’ve performed “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” for the past two years at Roseville Covenant and are looking for a different radio show script. Where did you acquire “Little Town of Bethlehem”?

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