Old Time Radio 2 CD-ROM - 79 mp3
Born July 26, 1921, Jean Shepherd began his radio career 1948 in Cincinnati working for WCKY, WKRC, and WSAI where he was hired as a DJ, but preferred to spin tales rather than records which often got him in trouble .
In 1951 he moved to Philadelphia and was heard on KYW until 1953 when he returned briefly to Cincinnati's WLW. It wasn't until he moved to New York sometime in 1954 or 1955 that he settled down to a long career on WOR.
Here, he spent the next 22 years talking to "me". Every Jean Shepherd listener will tell you that, as he sat there in front of the radio, or had it tucked beneath his pillow, Shep was talking only to "me". He had a method of talking as if he were sitting in your living room holding a casual conversation, discussing auto racing, or a recent trip abroad.
At first Shep did his show from the WOR transmitter site in Carteret, NJ from 1:00am until 4:30am five nights a week. For three and one half hours, he talked uninterrupted. He played no music and only broke stride for the occasional commercial, which he detested. Many commercials were done live and he would constantly poke fun at the sponsors. Management hated it, the listeners loved it, and the sponsors endured it. Sometime around 1961 he settled into a 45-minute nightly format, which was heard in the 9:15, 10:15 or 11:15 timeslots.
But it was in 1956 that Shep drew attention by having his "Night People" followers go into book stores all over the city asking for the book called "I Libertine" The book ultimately made the New York Times Best Seller List before ever being printed. At this point he worked with Ted Sturgeon and Ballantine Books, to come up with the story and write the book.
Another stunt he liked to pull, was the hurling of invectives. He would instruct his listeners to place their radios in the open window of their house and turn the volume way up. He would then yell over the radio things like, "You filthy pragmatists, I'm going to get you!"
Every night the show was different. Often the subject was related to the season, holiday, or a trip he may have taken. Other nights he would tell a childhood or Army story, many of which ended up in written form in Playboy, Car and Driver, or in one of his four books. Some even went on to become movies. He did four for PBS and two for commercial release, the most well known being "A Christmas Story".
He always told a story in the first person, because he felt it was more believable to the listener. He was so convincing that many felt he was telling real stories of his childhood. Shep constantly claimed that it was all fiction, although he did have friends named Flick and Schwarz.
Shep often said that there was 5 to 10 hours of preparation for each of his nightly shows, and yet fellow WOR personality Barry Farber, and one of his engineers, Herb Squire say that it all came from the top of his head. Herb claims that Shep would come into the studio with only a scrap of paper with a few notes, or perhaps an article someone had sent him. He would sit down behind the mike, and as the theme song (Bahn Frei by Eduard Strauss) would play Shep would ease into 45 minutes of non-stop chatter. He would start out talking about a particular subject, and through the course of the show, would side track to other related topics. But as his theme music at the end of the show came to a close he managed to tie it all together and bring the show to an end.
There were serious moments, when he read from Robert Service or George Ade or some poetry often with background music for effect. Other times he could be silly, singing "Yes sir, that's my baby...", playing the Jews Harp, Kazoo, or Nose Flute to "The Bear Missed the Train". In between he told stories or gave us an education in such things as the chief exports of Bolivia, the inner workings of a steel mill, how ham radio works, or he spoke about the aggression of man, King Tut and Antique Cars. Shep touched upon almost every subject, yet managed to stay away from deep discussions involving politics and religion. When he did a whole show about the March to Washington in 1963, he spoke not of the events that took place, but described what went on around him. He spoke of the people that were there, how everyone got along, and the general atmosphere surrounding the day's events.
Shep's radio career spanned the gap between the time when radio shows, such as The Lone Ranger, and The Shadow, were fading into the sunset, and the modern forms of syndicated talk radio came to being. Although he only reached a small market in comparison to today's syndicated shows, there are thousands of people today who will sit up and take notice at the first note of the Bahn Frei theme and remember those days when Shep was talking to them while they lay in bed listening.
Radio was only one of the media in which he worked. His four books, "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash", "Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories and Other Disasters", "The Ferrari in the Bedroom", and "A Fistful of Fig Newtons" were based on many of the stories he told on the radio or wrote for Playboy. He won the Playboy Satire Award for several of them.
He made two commercially released motion pictures, "A Christmas Story" and "My Summer Story" and four movies for PBS, "Phantom of the Open Hearth", "The Great American Fourth of July and other Disasters", "The Star-crossed Romance of Josephene Cosnowski", and "Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss".
Through the years, he wrote columns for the Village Voice and Car and Driver as well as single articles for Mad, National Lampoon, Grump, The Realist, TV Guide, and Field and Stream to name a few.
When he wasn't writing he did hundreds of live shows at colleges all across the country such as Rutgers, Fairleigh Dickinson, Seton Hall, Notre Dame, and 30 annual shows at Princeton. He performed at Carnegie Hall, Town Hall, Clinton Museum, Dayton Hamvention (as in Ham Radio, which was one of his hobbies), the Overseas Press Club and many others.
He also appeared on television on such shows as I've Got A Secret, The Tonight Show, Merv Griffin, and Steve Allen. He did three of his own. The first was called "Rear Bumpers" which he did for WLW-TV in Cincinnati. Then he did "Jean Shepherd's America" for PBS for 2 seasons and "Shepherd's Pie" for New Jersey Public Television.
He recorded 6 LPs, "Into the Unknown", "Jean Shepherd and Other Foibles". "Will Failure Spoil Jean Shepherd?", "Jean Shepherd - Live at the Limelight", "The Declassified Jean Shepherd", and "Jean Shepherd Reads Poems of Robert Service". He also did "The Clown" with Charles Mingus and a series of audio tapes reading his short stories.
Jean Shepherd was born July 26, 1921 and passed away October 16, 1999. During those years he achieved a level of success which many have compared to that of Mark Twain. The books, the movies, and over 5,000 hours of radio in New York alone is an achievement that is not realized in a lifetime by many people, and Shep did it all without missing a stride. Memories of his timeless work linger with those who knew him, like the childhood stories he loved to tell. And even today, as you listen to one of his old shows from the sixties, it's like he's never left.
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64 01 14 Two Sides of Man
64 01 16 Great Indiana Blizzard
64 01 17 Big Snow Hits NY - Indiana HS Basketball
64 01 28 Miss Robinette & Farkus No Leadership Qualities
64 01 XX How He Got His Name - Cars in NY
64 01 XX Mistaken Identity
64 02 03 Role Reversal
64 02 05 Shooting Planes
64 02 14 Dawn Stricklands Valentines Day Party
64 05 23a LL Movie Dish Night
64 05 23b LL Army Examination
64 05 27 Sheps First Martini -Avoiding Responsibility
64 06 02 Search For Superman
64 06 13a LL Band Formation
64 06 13b LL Scout Stories
64 06 17 Back From Maine Vacation
64 06 18 Boy Scout Camp
64 06 20a LL Summer Solstice
64 06 20b LL Summer Job
64 06 22 Big Band Remote - The Theremin
64 06 23 Worlds Fair Madness
64 06 27 LL Fort Dix wire laying story - Brunners Triangular Donut - Chicago White sox story
64 06 27a LL Laying Wire
64 06 27b LL Radio Hell
64 06 XX Aggressive Nature of Man
64 06 XX Myths
64 06 XX Rand Rebuttal
64 06 XX Spring Casey At The Bat
64 06 XX Truck Spills
64 07 01 Introduction to Classical Music - High School Orchestra
64 07 04a LL Patriotism Fireworks Stories
64 07 04b LL Little Old Lady Shot
64 07 06 Monsters in Michigan
64 07 07 Smoker At The Legion Hall
64 07 10 Hibernation The Sack
64 07 11a LL Covering Political Conventions
64 07 11b LL More on Elections
64 07 18 LL Paycheck Mistake
64 07 20 The Uncaring Universe - A Scary World Aircraft Carrier
64 07 21 Shit Hits The Fan Be Prepared and Other Slogans
64 07 24 Insidious Pain First Night in the Open Hearth
64 07 25a LLChurch Remote Female Cretins on a Bus
64 07 25b LL Sheps birthday Army - Climbing Poles Air Show
64 08 04 Slobus Americanus
64 08 13 Heinz Aviator (AM fill in show for PLH)
64 08 13 Shep At Business Lunch Brits in Ad World
64 08 14 AM Baseball Radio Trivia
64 08 14 No Talent Army Piano Prodigy
64 08 14 Vic and Sade (AM fill in show for PLH)
64 08 15a LL N.Y. A Summer Festival The Yankees Your Fathers Mustache Band
64 08 15b LL Shep in Munich Uncle Carls Teeth
64 08 17 Vic and Sade Fact and Fiction Chicago Worlds Fair
64 08 18 Literary Convention of Mothers as Monsters
64 08 20 Theatrical Agents
64 08 21 Malice - Hate Groups and Hate Mail
64 08 22 How to Make Money on Commercial Radio
64 08 23 Do Worms Talk - Wormology
64 08 29a LL First Day in High School
64 08 29b LL Theme for Signal Corps Girls Swimming Class
64 09 05 LL Labor Day Weekend - Army Story Shermie the Wormie
64 09 15 Worlds Fair
64 09 18 More From the Fair
64 10 16 Selling Seeds in 2nd Grade Drunken Painter
64 11 02 Back From England Beatles Election Eve Pipe Dreams
64 11 07 LL British Trip - On Tour With The Beatles
64 11 16 Exciting Night on Whoopie Channel
64 11 17 Driving Captain Cherry on a Date
64 12 15 Government Coverups UFOs Inner Earth
64 12 24 Christmas cards reflect the times
64 12 26 LL Early Version of Red Ryder story
64 12 30 New Years Eve at The Burly Cue
64 XX XX Amos and Andy
64 XX XX Enclosed Stadium
64 XX XX Kids Worshiped As Gods
64 XX XX Laurel and Hardy
64 XX XX One Man Station
64 XX XX Real Life
64 XX XX Sheps First Martini Avoiding Responsibility
64 XX XX Tattoo