Most of you will know him only from the much-repeated A Christmas Story movie.
And that is a real shame too.
For many years Jean Shepherd did a five-days-a-week live radio show on WOR-AM out of New York City. I was twigged to it by the Twitter of that time: a penpal I’d met through comic book fandom.
It was a sad, sad day when WOR decided not to renew his contract.
That was, as far as I’m concerned, the beginning of the fall of radio.
It’s been a rotten medium ever since.
But while he was on, Shepherd played radio like a jazz musician plays an instrument: with improvisation, mastery, and a sleight-of-hand, making tightly-planned shows seem off-the-cuff and spontaneous.
He was a maestro and a genius.
The highlight of each year was his live reading of an edited-for-time version of his story, Duel in the Snow, or Red Ryder nails the Cleveland Street Kid.
And that’s what I have for you below to play right now.
Plug in those earbuds and goof off for the next forty-five minutes!
Before you hit play — pay attention! He acknowledges listeners who are tape recording it! Take that, RIAA!
Also notice the ad for a Joseph Wambaugh’s Onion Field and the novel Beulah Land.
Plus, a commercial for Barnes & Noble! Holy Nook!
(Excuse the very un-PC charity ad!)
Note: Closing the player will pause it. As long as you don’t hit Refresh, it will continue where it left off.
Below, some screensnaps from the movie that correspond to the audio.
There is also lots more Jean Shepherd MP3 there too.
Yes: buy the book. Even in paper!