Several years ago I began a Christmas tradition of sending to my friends and relatives audio CD's with a selection of old-time Holiday radio shows.
Before television, radio brought Holiday cheer into people's homes, and just about every show did a Christmas or New Year's Eve Special. Fibber McGee and Molly, Duffy's Tavern, Bing Crosby, and Jack Benny all celebrated Christmas in their own inimitable ways.
Not just the comedy and variety shows, but even shows like Dragnet, and The Whistler, and Suspense took notice of the season. Not every show was `kid friendly', as even the horror shows often did Christmas themes.
There are Holiday shows out there for just about everybody's sensibilities and taste.
This has proved to be a fun, personalized, inexpensive, and well received Christmas present.
Blank CD's cost only about .25 cents each, and can hold about 80 minutes of audio. (MP3 format CDs can store maybe 50 hours, but not everyone has an MP3 compatible player).
Even with plastic or paper sleeves, and mailing costs, a package of a 4 CD's can be put together for an investment of about $3 and a little bit of your time.
Not a bad deal, and searching out these shows and burning the disks is sure to put you in the Holiday spirit.
And the best thing is, there are enough old-time radio Christmas shows out there to allow you to do this for many years to come.
Here's how I do it every year.
I use a Windows XP computer, and I use NERO burning software, so my setup may be a little different than yours.
If your computer has a writable CD or DVD (not just a player), then you probably already have the capability to burn CDs.
Most computers manufactured in the past 4 or 5 years have this capability, and most come with either NERO or ROXIO software that will allow you to burn Audio CDs.
If your computer doesn't already have burning software installed, there are a number of freeware CD burning packages available on the net.
(As always, when in doubt, read the manual!)
I create (on my desktop) some temporary directories: CD1, CD2, CD3, and CD4 (one for each disk I plan to burn).
I then go looking for the shows I want to share. Each disk can only hold 80 minutes of audio, so I try to find a couple of 30 minute shows, and 1 15-minute show for each disk.
Some radio shows have had their commercials removed, so their runtime for a half hour show could be down to 22 to 24 minutes. You may be able to fit 3 of these onto one disk.
You can always `fill' with some Christmas music to use up any empty CD space.
You may decide to go with a `theme', and try to group shows that are alike on the same disk, or you might just want to go free-form, and make it an eclectic collection.
If you are sending to families with small children, you might want to make a couple of disks specifically for kids.
And fair warning: Many Christmas shows were sponsored by cigarette manufacturers. If that troubles you, or you feel it would be inappropriate, you'll want to avoid those.
Once you have your shows selected, and placed in your directories, it's time to burn your disks.
Each software package is different, but what you want to create are AUDIO CDs, that will play in any CD player. Not DATA CDs.
One at a time, you will drag (or drop) the contents of each disc into the burning program, and instruct it to burn the CD. It should only take a minute or two per disk.
You can either burn multiple copies of each disk now, or simply create MASTER disks which you can quickly copy later.
The first year I did this, I had an old 4x CD burner, and I burned over 100 disks. It took several evenings. Today, with a 52x burner, the process goes a lot faster!
Over the next week or so I'll present several blogs offering suggestions on a variety of different Holiday radio shows you can download and burn.
Now, just to give you a wee taste of something traditional, here is Bing Crosby's 1947 Christmas Show. (Right click on the link to download)
Bing Crosby 1947 Christmas Show