Bringing the Spirit of the Holidays to Los Angeles


Holiday Program in Progress | Photo Cathy Bower




KCET is celebrating its 50th anniversary year with a series of stories, reflections, and flashbacks, like this throwback below. For more and to participate in our next 50 years, join us at kcet.org/50.


Just as dependable as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west, KCET brings the residents of our city a chance to celebrate ourselves and spirit of the holidays each and every Christmas Eve. It is hard sometimes to get into a holiday spirit, when you live in a location that worships the sun and never really sees the snow, but every year, we do our best. It is called the Los Angeles County Holiday Celebration.

As a service to the residents of our city, KCET has been part of broadcasting the yearly concert that comes from Los Angeles County Arts Commission on behalf of our L.A. County Board of Supervisors. We were part of the deal made by the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and the Board of Supervisors to allow this concert. The broadcast makes it available to almost every home in Los Angeles via our signal. The concert, held yearly on Christmas Eve, has been a part of our community since December 24, 1959, and at the Dorothy Chandler since 1964. The concert is free to all and it gives residents of Los Angeles a chance to view live music, performed at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. I have spent eight Christmas Eves working the twelve-hour show during the 80s, and I can tell you that the beauty of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is unparalleled. Nowadays, the concert has been reduced to just a short three hours, due to budget cuts over the years. In spite of that, you can still spend an afternoon enjoying to local music and dance groups that showcase the diversity of the many residents of our city.

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If you have never experienced our broadcast, I heartily recommend you check it out. I personally find that I love to bake or cook while the concert is on my TV. It puts me and my household into the holiday spirit.


Inside the Remote Truck | Photo Cathy Bower


Those eight years that I worked in the Remote Truck, however, I obviously did not have that luxury. I didn't mind though, because I always felt it was a gift to my adopted city.

So many people do come down and some just hang around the plaza, while others sit in the seats. What is great about it is that you can come and go at will. Wait until a group ends and then get up and leave. No seats are held and it makes for a low-maintenance concert experience. Most people bring their young children for that very reason. All ages are welcome.

KCET did the broadcast for decades from a Live Remote Truck. The set-up took from 3 p.m. the day before (when the Dorothy Chandler finished the concert of the day) until just before we went live at 9 a.m. the next morning. It was a complex set-up, with the large stage segmented into smaller areas, so that we could bring in the next group without the audience seeing them. The grand reveal for say, an orchestra, would take your breath away.

We had to be able to mic all parts of the stage and we had to get our cameras out, when we lowered a curtain. I remember a hand-held camera got caught behind the curtain one time. We just went on without it until the curtain rose once more.

Now days, CDK Productions actually produces it and sends it to us to air, but the spirit is still there, for a new generation to appreciate. Next holiday, check it out. You will not regret it.

This is another in a series of posts where Cathy Bower, KCET's Broadcast Operations Coordinator, looks back at some interesting moments and events during the station's 50 years on the air. Read more entries here.

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