Jean Shepherd
Jean Shepherd – Likened to a 20th Century Mark Twain in the True Americana department.

Jean Shepherd – WOR-FM – January 2, 1977 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection.

Jean Shepherd, whom we mostly know now as the writer of A Christmas Story, was one of the truly great story-tellers of the later 20th century. Often compared to Mark Twain in his effortless ability to convey a place and time and the human frailties that came along with them, Shepherd’s daily radio show, on several stations at various times around the New York area during his career and syndicated around the country for a time, was an impromptu assemblage of recollections and observances, mostly told in the first-person.

Many of his stories, which began as improvisations, wound up as books of short stories. And many of those short stories became the basis for films and a series on PBS called Jean Shepherd’s America.

Jean Shepherd’s career began in the mid-1940s, where he worked at a number of radio stations before coming to New York in the early 1950s. A hugely popular personality, he branched off to do commercials as well as do work in television and a writer for numerous magazines. In the mid-1960s he did a show live from the Limelight in Greenwich Village, where it was just him, an audience and a little over an hour of impromptu storytelling.

This broadcast comes from his long-time stint at WOR in New York, with whom he had been associated with since the 1950s. By 1977 his customary hour was whittled down to 45 minutes and many of his stories were broken up by commercials, which Shepherd developed a love-hate relationship with, since they broke up trains of thought.

Still, Jean Shepherd was a much loved and admired personality and a true fixture of New York life. This broadcast, given the day after New Years in 1977 is typical of his style – and if you haven’t heard it before, this was what most New Yorkers were listening to, almost religiously, on a daily basis for decades.

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