Battle Of The TV Yule Logs

The TV Yule Log, a tradition for generations, has been revamped
"Light My Fire" is what lots of folks will be saying this Thursday - and as Mo Rocca demonstrates, they won't even need a match:

This Christmas millions of families will warm themselves around the TV.

The Yule Log - the annual hours-long, commercial free broadcast of a crackling hearth - exploded onto screens 42 years ago. Since then, it's only gotten hotter.

There are logs online for podcast, logs on-demand on cable, even an iLog for your iPhone.

But for purists there is only one: WPIX New York's Yule Log, introduced in 1966.

In 2001 after a 12-year absence, the log smoked the competition, handily winning its time slot. The original log was then picked up by the Tribune Company and aired nationally.

So why then would a young TV executive play with fire by filming a new Yule Log, to debut this Christmas?

The New Yule Log also replaces the old holiday music with a brand new soundtrack of radio Christmas plays by artists like Jack Benny and Fibber McGee and Molly.

"The next five hours will capture the dreams of the holidays from years gone by …" the announcer intones.

Rocca asked Sean Compton, the vice president of programming at the Tribune Company, if he was nervous about how the new log is going to do in the ratings.

"I am," Compton said. "I'm nervous about ratings. Every day I wake up, I have to immediately go look at the ratings."

The news of Compton's new log has traditionalists logging on in protest.

"I will miss not seeing the WPIX yule log, the original one, this year," one correspondent wrote to the station, punctuating their message with a sad face.

No, it's clear not everyone will be rolling with this log.

So, which is cozier? We took both logs to the street for a little fireside chatting …

Meredith thought the TV log was "kind of relaxing."

Anthony said, "I think it's amazing what a fireplace can do and how it makes people feel. I just love it."

"You know, it's a fire on a TV screen," one woman said matter-of-factly.

"It's like a psychological thing; it just makes you feel warmer though it's, like, 20 degrees outside," another man said.

"And ordinarily you don't watch [TV] outside," Rocca suggested.

"No. I don't."

And now let's take a look at the new log, featuring "Lux Radio Theatre."

Anthony was less impressed: "I think the first one was more suitable because of the music, gave it that warm feeling."

And with the radio play in the background? "I think it takes a lot of having to concentrate on what's being said. You tend to be torn as to listening and to watching the fire. You want your Yule log to relax you, not to challenge you."

Pat made an unpleasant face. "It looks like a cartoon," she said.

Which log will have more heat with viewers? Only the ratings will tell. One thing is certain: This Christmas the Yule log shows no signs of burning out.

For information on the on demand Yule Log visit: