A Radio Tradition
Mal Bellairs’ radio Christmas Show – one of Chicagoland’s utmost holiday traditions – lives on today.
Marshall Field’s holiday windows (now Macy’s on State) … Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (a creation of Montgomery Ward) … Christmas Around the World at the Museum of Science and Industry (now in its 75th year). These are Chicago-rooted holiday traditions that generations have enjoyed.
Late radio personality Mal Bellairs’ radio Christmas Show, which ran from 1955-1998, is another such tradition, and thanks to the digital age, it is being enjoyed once again. The show originally aired on WBBM (AM), and later on WIVS in Crystal Lake.
“For almost 50 years, my father’s gift to his listeners was his annual Christmas Show,” explained Rick Bellairs, who is a real estate broker for Berkshire Hathaway Home Services in Woodstock.
“Over the years, he would hear from people around Chicagoland who would set aside the afternoon to bake cookies, address Christmas cards, wrap presents or decorate the tree,” he added. “It was their tradition.”
During the show, which runs about four hours, Mal shares the music and tells stories about Christmas from around the world.
“As I have gathered the Christmas music from other countries, I found how each country lent Christmas its own personality and national characteristics through the music,” Bellairs told the Chicago Tribune in 1996.
Mal’s son Keith collected several versions of the Christmas Show available online to listen to in its entirety or in segments.
“I had the privilege of working with him on the show for several years engineering and spinning the records,” Rick recalled. “I invite you to listen when you have time during the holidays.”