Christmas radio play inspired by 89-year-old poet’s love story

Dec 13, 2021, 12:07 AM | Updated: 8:17 am

SALT LAKE CITY — A Valentine’s Day story on KSL-TV has become a Christmas story.

Last February, KSL-TV ran a story about Richard Ledbetter, a then-88-year-old security guard who wrote love poems. Ledbetter lost his first wife to cancer. Later in life, he found love again and married his wife, Eugena.

“Richard and his wife have a beautiful love story. I was so inspired by Richard,” KSL’s Candice Madsen, who wrote and produced a radio Christmas play based on Ledbetter’s story, said.

KSL’s Candice Madsen and the Ledbetters.

Madsen produced her first radio play last Christmas, in the middle of the pandemic.

“I was kind of feeling, you know, less than merry,” she said.

This year’s production is called “A Nightshift Christmas.”

“The story centers around a young security guard who is kind of a grinch. He’s tired, he’s burnt out, his heart’s been broken, and he’s tired of working the night shift at a department store,” Madsen said. “And then, he gets a new co-worker, who happens to be an 88-year-old man.”

The character, named Frank, is played by KSL’s Doug Wright.

“Oh, I think it was great. Frank was really amazing,” Ledbetter said about the show.

“Oh, he’s getting a big head,” his wife, Eugenia, said about her husband.

The production features a variety of KSL employees – from an HR coordinator to a director of engineering to radio personalities.

KSL Newsradio’s Doug Wright, KSL-TV’s Brooke Walker, and HR coordinator Matt Assily in a recording session.

Richard Ledbetter is now 89.

“89 years young,” he said.

A few weeks ago, he finally retired.

“I didn’t want to retire, but my son, my oldest son, said, ‘No, Dad, stop working,’” Ledbetter said.

Recently, Ledbetter shared a poem titled “Life is No Rehearsal.”

This precious life we live but once this one time must suffice.

We can’t turn back the hands of time. No one can live it twice.

“He loves life, and he is one of those people that really does live every moment to the fullest,” Madsen said.

“A Nightshift Christmas” airs on FM100.3 on Dec. 19 at 11 p.m., and on KSL NewsRadio Christmas Eve at noon and Christmas Day at 9 a.m. Or, you can listen to it here.

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Christmas radio play inspired by 89-year-old poet’s love story