Ho Ho Hold the Line, Please

With tongue placed firmly in rosy cheek, NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command) is once again making senior officials available to the media to help them track the progress of Santa’s sleigh on Dec. 24. CenturyLink will be one of NORAD’s helpers, courtesy of phone banks that can light up on Christmas Eve with media outlets looking to report the definitely non-fake news of Santa’s journey.

Media companies can embed the NORAD Tracks Santa logos, countdown clock or tracking map, which go live Dec. 24. They will be available in the press section of website noradsanta.org.

Officials tracking the airborne elf will be available for interviews from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Christmas Eve, with TV and cable news outlets required to schedule in advance. To do so, email newsdesk@dvidshub.net, call (678) 421-6707 or click here.

Video, audio, B-roll and Santa Cam footage are also available here.

Then there is the Tracks Santa Media Operations Center, which is where the lively and quick communications services of CenturyLink come in. That is the bank of phones media outlets can use to get live updates on Santa’s location. The numbers are (719) 556-1910 or (719) 556-5128, but are for the media only, and NORAD asks that broadcast and cable outlets not share that line with the public.

CenturyLink recently snagged a contract to provide communications services to Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., which includes supporting the Tracks Santa program and phone hotline.

The overall contract is valued at about $1.5 million.

“CenturyLink is honored to provide Peterson AFB with communications services that help NORAD track all flying objects that enter North American airspace every day, including tracking Santa Claus on Christmas Eve,” David Young, CenturyLink regional vice president, said of the contract.

NORAD and its forerunner, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD), have tracked Santa’s flight since 1955, when, according to NORAD (The Wire is not making this up), a Colorado Springs Sears ad accidently misprinted a phone number for children to call Santa, which turned out to be the CONAD hotline. Then-director of operations Col. Harry Shoup had the radar checked for Santa’s whereabouts, and children who called the number in error were given the info. The effort, er, snowballed from there.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.