WSAZ Bans Record


In 1952, WSAZ banned the airing of a popular Christmas recording.


In 1952, a freckle-faced 13-year-old singer named Jimmy Boyd recorded
“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”
in his high-pitched Mississippi twang. As that year’s Christmas
 season unfolded, the youngster’s record climbed to the No. 1
slot on the “Billboard” pop singles chart.

The song describes a scene where a child walks downstairs from his
bedroom on Christmas Eve to see his mother kissing Santa Claus
under the mistletoe. The lyric concludes with the child
wondering how his father will react on hearing of
 the kiss, unaware of the possibility that Santa
Claus is merely his father in a costume.

Boyd’s record was condemned by the Boston Archdiocese of the
 Catholic Church, which denounced it as a description of an
adulterous encounter. Columbia Records dispatched the
young singer to meet with the Archdiocese and explain
the song. Mollified, the church withdrew its ban.

Meanwhile, in Huntington, Lawrence Rogers, the general
 manager of WSAZ Radio and its brand-new television
station, WSAZ-TV, announced that the stations
wouldn’t play the tune, which he described
as “an insult to Santa Claus and the
sacred occasion of Christmas.”

 WSAZ’s audience responded with a barrage of angry telephone
 calls and irate letters defending the song, describing it as
“good clean fun” and urging that it not be banned.
After two weeks, an overwhelmed Rogers
 said WSAZ would “bow to the wishes
 of its listeners and viewers”
and reinstate the song.

In future years, other artists — from Spike Jones to the
Jackson 5 and John Cougar Mellencamp — recorded
 the song. A made-for- television movie based
on the song was released in 2001.


Note:  This Article and picture appeared in the Herald-Dispatch Newspaper on Dec. 19, 2023.


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