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L.A. yule logs burn bright

KTLA, KCAL will both offer fiery hearths Christmas morning

A Christmas Day yule log smackdown is heating up in Los Angeles. KCAL’s four-hour video of a burning Yule Log will face full head-to-head competition for the first time this Christmas morning, as KTLA brings out a rival fireplace.

As a result, chimney-deprived Angelenos (or auds who don’t want to start a fire in balmy SoCal weather) will get a choice on Christmas morning of crackling, burning yule logs.

The stations, however, will broadcast two very different music soundtracks with their yulecasts.

CBS-owned indie KCAL, which airs its log between 6 and 10 a.m., will continue its partnership with adult contemporary radio station KOST-FM.

KOST goes all-Christmas music this time of year; on Christmas morning, the holiday tunes will intersperse the tunes with messages from morning team Mark Wallengren and Kristin Cruz, as well as KCAL anchors Pat Harvey and Rick Garcia.

Over on KTLA, the fireplace shots will be accompanied by classic rock from KLOS-FM. The Tribune station will run its wall-to-wall log coverage from 4:30 to 10 a.m.

It’s actually the second year KTLA has broadcast a yule log — but last year, the station stayed mostly out of the way of KCAL, which still had the prime 8 to 10 a.m. hours to itself. As a result, KCAL dominated the yule competish, averaging163,000 viewers for its log vs. KTLA’s 34,000.

This year, former KCBS/KCAL prexy-g.m. Don Corsini, who now heads up KTLA, apparently smells blood in the Christmas morning egg nog, as both will keep the fires burning until 10 a.m.

The idea of a commercial-free, nonstop shot of a yule log would seem antiquated in this Internet age, when YouTube videos of fireplaces can be called up anytime on demand.

But the tradition has legs. Last year, KCAL was gifted a first-place finish among L.A. adults 18-49 in the 9 a.m. hour, tied with KABC’s coverage of a Disney-themed Christmas parade.

KCAL first brought the yule log tradition to Los Angeles in 2004, having borrowed the idea from New York’s Tribune-owned WPIX-TV.

WPIX made the yule log an annual tradition from 1966 to 1989, using a shot of the fireplace at New York’s Gracie Mansion.

Late station g.m. Fred Thrower came up with the idea when he realized that most of New York’s apartment dwellers didn’t have fireplaces.

WPIX revived the practice in 2001 and quickly won the Christmas morning ratings race in Gotham. When WPIX’s Los Angeles sister station KTLA opted not to bring the log out here, KCAL chose to step in.

Nationally, Tribune’s WGN America will also televise the yule log, from 5 to 8 a.m. PT.

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