‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ sort of …

Or just scroll down for the free radio play link.


Here’s a Christmas Story about a Christmas story….

Once upon a time, unburdened by spouses, children, or — as I would soon learn, profession — I rented an office in the shadow of the Griffith Park Observatory, in Hollywood. Sarno’s, a famous Italian “opera” restaurant, was right down the alley, and if the kitchen door was open — as it often was in the hot months — you could hear singers showing off their pipes.

One night, Luciano Pavarotti was prevailed upon to take the stage, and an amazing sound filled the concrete canyons, filtering into my open window like a Bose Wave radio, clear and crystalline.

I know this because when I heard that voice, I had the thought “Gee. That sounds like Pavarotti.” The next Sunday, there was an item on it in the LA TIMES Arts Section.

And, if I opened the OTHER north-facing windows, concerts from the Greek Theater would filter in at a proper volume and not the bleeding-ear levels of loudness that predominated.

And I just wrote. Wrote for one amazing summer: two screenplays (the first paid for six months’ rent of the office), two books (a novel and a long essay on education), dozens of short stories and various and sundry for a magazine market that was just getting ready to collapse.

And I found myself in the odd position of having articles in seven magazines on the newsstand up the street at Chatterton’s on Vermont, and not enough extra cash to buy ONE of them. Such is fame.


A few months earlier, seemingly, the men’s magazine publishers had realized that “redeeming social value” was no longer necessary (the feds were only busting MOVING pictures, not still pictures, and didn’t care WHAT anybody wrote). The upshot was that writing work dried up. So, I eked out what I could, but mostly I lived off of that screenplay, and, later, by selling books to the used book stores in the neighborhood, a sack at a time.

(Eventually, I realized that all of them threw out the excess books they bought from estates, etc. and by recycling them to the other bookstores, I made $10 a day, which was enough for food and smokes. One bookstore’s trash was another bookstore’s buy.)

And, I used to particularly enjoy listening to the old time radio show from KCRW in Santa Monica, which I’d listen to on balmy Sunday evenings.

Then, as the Christmas season approached, I thought I’d write a half-hour radio play, just to return to the form. (I began my commercial career by writing spoken-word scripts.) It was a lovely, retro, subversive script, and read well — aloud.*

[* Tip on writing for spoken media: ALWAYS read it aloud before you edit. What you heard in your head is never the same as what it sounds like back through your ears. Almost, but — crucially — not quite.]

I tried on and off to get it produced. It never was.

In the late 1990s, I booked time with a local studio, and enlisted some actors to do the play, and, while the actual recording went great — very little need for second takes — the fellow who owned the studio completely screwed up the cross-channel tracks (we’d been recording it on discrete channels, so that we could intercut the parts, rather than as an ensemble recording) and the bleed-through made editing all but impossible.

We move on. But then luck decided to start acting like a lady, and a chance appeared.

Fast forward to 2005. I was a regular “pundit” on Fridays on the local AirAmerica affiliate, KOPT. And I thought it might be fun to broadcast it live, as a Christmas special.

And this we did.

Starring scintillating host Nancy Stapp, protean producer Shelly Gaske, McGruff-voiced Mac McFadden and radio newsman extraordinaire Rick Little as the detective, with yours truly adding miscellaneous voices and sound effects, The KOPT Radio Theater Players presented their first and last production on some Yulish date in 2005.

Here, for its fourth annual broadcast, his vorpal sword presents “The St. Nick Case” a radio drama. Or, from last year:

And, for a special treat, The KOPT Radio Theater Players in the 2005 production of “The St. Nick Case,” in wide-spectrum, full color stereo. Was broadcast live on December 23, 2005.

The St. Nick Case

(Right click and “save as”) It’s mp3, 20 minutes, 4.4 megs. NOTE: It is a radio play, there are no visuals.

And yes, that’s me as “Ed Waldo.”


It is free. There is no obligation. No salesman will call. I don’t WANT anything from you. You don’t have to sign up for anything. Just listen to it. It’s a Christmas present.

Merry Christmas, and, oh yes …



cross-posted from his vorpal sword

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About Hart Williams

Mr. Williams grew up in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. He lived in Hollywood, California for many years. He has been published in The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Santa Fe Sun, The Los Angeles Free Press, Oui Magazine, New West, and many, many more. A published novelist and a filmed screenwriter, Mr. Williams eschews the decadence of Hollywood for the simple, wholesome goodness of the plain, honest people of the land. He enjoys Luis Buñuel documentaries immensely.
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