Great writeup by cofounder of Steely Dan about a pioneer of talk radio, when radio was still real fun and the ‘friend’ you’d take under your covers via transistor and go to sleep with. Didn’t know until now that Jean Shepherd has since become, perhaps, more known for his connection to The Christmas Story movie than the wildly popular ‘hip’ early talk show on NEW YORK’ s powerhouse, WOR. We grew up 3,000 miles away from where Shepherd reigned and never heard the man until recently, though we had many of our own out West ( Bob Sherwood, Al Jazzbeaux Collins, Russ the Moose Ssyracuse, Bobby Dale, even Ira Blue, but perhaps no one person who could put it all together in one ascerbic session like Jean Shepherd.Here’s Fagen, who can talk much more intelligently about Shepherd than we can
On Christmas Eve, TBS will again present its annual 24-hour marathon of Bob Clark’s modern classic, A Christmas Story. Wrapping presents while watching Ralphie pine for a Red Riding BB gun has become a holiday tradition as beloved and durable as candy canes and eggnog. Yet the author and narrator of A Christmas Story, Jean Shepherd, had a deeper legacy of enchanting, subtly barbed storytelling as a longtime voice on nightly radio. In this piece from December 2008, Steely Dan co-founder Donald Fagenrecounts growing up in suburban New Jersey enthralled by Shepherd’s radio show.
Remembering JEAN SHEPHERD and his Christmas (Eve) Story
If you know Jean Shepherd’s name, it’s probably in connection with the now-classic film A Christmas Story, which is based on a couple of stories in his book In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash. He also does the compelling voice-over narration. On Christmas, TBS will continue its tradition of presenting a 24-hour Christmas Storymarathon. There are annual fan conventions devoted to the film— released 25 years ago this Thanksgiving— and the original location in Cleveland has been turned into a museum. But long before A Christmas Story was made, Shepherd did a nightly radio broadcast on WOR out of Manhattan that enthralled a generation of alienated young people within range of the station’s powerful transmitter. Including me: I was a spy for Jean Shepherd.
In the late ’50s, while Lenny Bruce was beginning his climb to holy infamy in jazz clubs on the West Coast, Shepherd’s all-night monologues on WOR had already gained him an intensely loyal cult of MORE