The Jean Sheperd Archives
March 27, 2004 10:10 AM   Subscribe

10:15 P.M. The WOR news and weather are out of the way. A bugle sounds, and a sprightly theme song comes trotting on the air. The theme has a double meaning: it is the one that calls the horses to the gate at Aqueduct, and it is the Bahnfrei Overture, composed for an operetta by Eduard Strauss, the only member of the Strauss family who did not make good. Presently, Shepherd's clear, rowdy voice intrudes. "Okay, gang are you ready to play radio? Are you ready to shuffle off the mortal coil of mediocrity? I am if you are." There is a noise like a mechanized Bronx cheer (Brrapp!)- it is Shepherd blowing his kazoo. At other times he twangs his Jew's-harp (Brroing!). "Yes, you fatheads out there in the darkness, you losers in the Sargasso Sea of existence, take heart, because WOR, in its never ending crusade of public service, is once again proud to bring you--(Erocia Symphony Up)-- The Jean Shepherd Program!"

A man no longer known for much besides A Christmas Story, Jean Sheperd was the greatest radio raconteur ever. Here is the greatest Jean Sheperd fansite so far--Flick Lives and, treasure of treasures, here are The Shep Archives--oh, you'll have to spend a minute or two to register to hear them but what the hey?--with hundreds of Sheperd broadcasts and records in streaming mp3s.
But Wait! There's More!

posted by y2karl (14 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
More Sheperdiana: The Night People vs Creeping Meatballism from Mad Magazine, March-April 1957 Volume 1, Number 32; The Legendary Flick's Tavern; The Story of I, Libertine: Jean Shepherd on Thanksgving and Norman Rockwell; Jean Sheperd narrates Village Sunday: Hammond, Indiana's Jean Shepherd Memorial Page and ''Silent Key'' for Jean Shepherd 1921-1999.

Inventor of the whole idea of late night radio, he was a master story teller and one of the funniest and he had the solitary gift of speaking to every listener as an individual. He was a treasure.
posted by y2karl at 10:14 AM on March 27, 2004 [1 favorite]


Thanks again, y2karl. Jean Shepherd is classic.
posted by rocketman at 10:36 AM on March 27, 2004

Brilliant post. Thanks, Karl. I read all his books years ago, even before "A Christmas Story" came out, but have never heard the radio shows, I look forward to listening to these a lot.
posted by briank at 10:36 AM on March 27, 2004

God Damn, I love you y2karl :)

[This Is Good]
posted by tittergrrl at 10:37 AM on March 27, 2004

A great post on Jean Shepherd, with 165 words of small font (not including multiple mouseovers!) on the front page alone? That's the Y2K I like!
posted by Shane at 10:46 AM on March 27, 2004

[Holy shit, those are some long title attributes for the links...]
posted by thebabelfish at 11:25 AM on March 27, 2004 [1 favorite]

Shepard was the spiritual grandfather of almost everyone I have ever admired on the radio. My greatest aspiration when I 'played radio' in my college days was to be the kind of communicator and storyteller he was (but like, 99.99999% of the population, lacked the talent). I'm actually relieved that "A Christmas Story" has spared him from the total obscurity that has would have been the inevitable fate of a true genius of the way too perishable medium of radio. Bravo to y2karl and everyone on the web using their bandwidth to keep his legacy alive.

And I'm pretty sure that in my next comment in a political thread here, I will accuse other MeFites of "Creeping Meatballism". (Although in the years since he wrote that, the progress of "Meatballism" has sped up significantly.)

Or is that "Metaballism"?
posted by wendell at 11:39 AM on March 27, 2004

Does anyone remember the smooth, gentle, calming voice of Franklin MacCormack of WGN in the 60's?
posted by lometogo at 12:18 PM on March 27, 2004

Oh, and speaking of radio communicators who deserve better: Sandra Tsing Loh's new station, just as I predicted.
posted by wendell at 12:23 PM on March 27, 2004

Hmm, after some late and diligent scrolling, it must be reported that the Jean Shepherd Memorial Message Board at Flick Lives is worth perusal:

Anyone who listened to Shep regularly during the late 60s and early 70s knows that he had a way of making you think that he was talking directly to you. Because of this quality we fans felt like we knew him personally, so that his death feels more like the loss of a friend than a famous person.

is a constant, as are personal accounts

I first met Jean when he was master of ceremonies at a sports car Rallye in Washington Square, NYC in 1959; I had heard him for years on WOR and loved his show. In about 1962, we brought Jean to WGBH-TV in Boston to do what I believe was his first TV show, shot at dusk, out on a dock on the Charles River, telling stories to a camera - no visuals, nothing but Jean. TV was - shall we say - simpler in those days. About the time the tape was rolling (and in those days it was 2" videotape, a pain to edit, and stops and starts were discouraged lest some surly engineer have to make splices), seeing all the lights, a Boston Police boat came to see what was going on. Shep kept right on talking, in the creeping darkness, on the dock, and the entire confrontation with the cops was woven right into his story. This was a great storyteller.

and expressions of strong feelings -

I am spending this Sunday listening to old WOR tapes and having a little wake of my own in honor of our hero. My favorite memories of Shep are the ones my transistor radio provided under my pillow when I was a kid. I remember the story of when he was in the service and made the rounds at Asbury park with his buddies and ate his way up and down the boardwalk, picked up some chicks and went on the Ferris Wheel and got very sick-which he told in great graphic detail. I was laughing so hard, I had to stifle my face in my pillow-but it didn't work. My dad came in and wanted to know what was up-we listened to the rest of the story and we were in tears....

A goy asks: If he wasn't a mensch, who was?
posted by y2karl at 2:29 PM on March 27, 2004 [1 favorite]

WFMU also has a bunch of Jean Shepherd broadcasts to enjoy, with no registration necessary. Granted, they're in RealAudio, but you gotta take the bitter with the sweet sometimes.
posted by starkeffect at 2:33 PM on March 27, 2004

So much fun! Thanks, y2karl!
posted by interrobang at 4:32 PM on March 27, 2004

Best. News. This. Week.

As a kid I used to leave the radio on and fall asleep to Jean Shepherd, followed by Garner Ted Armstrong and then Bob Grant.

Which explains a lot.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:18 PM on March 27, 2004

note to self: BUY TINFOIL
posted by y2karl at 5:24 PM on March 27, 2004

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