Jean Shepherd Radio


The noted American humorist Jean Shepherd died in 1999; we have extensive written agreements confirming our ownership of the radio programs, and our right to continue to exploit them.  We have approximately 200 hours of master 1/4" 42-minute magnetic reel-to-reel tapes; unfortunately, the great majority are inventoried only by a show number, not by subject.  In general, the programs, after Shepherd's music theme, are monologues, with commercial breaks (but no commercials); Shepherd muses about whatever strikes his fancy, ranging from his youthful experiences as a tuba student, to the time that he and an army buddy went to a tattoo parlor but chickened out.  The humor is remarkably fresh and current, with only a few “dating” references.  In 2006 we entered into a distribution agreement with  Choice Ventures, a new audio distribution company founded by Mark Tepper, previously with Media Bay; he subsequently became a principal of a company which was formed from the bankrupt Media Bay’s assets, “Radio Again.”.  He initially released 12 Shepherd programs, in  4-program and  8-program sets. He quickly recouped his advance and expenses, and moved into overages; in 2007 he  released another 12 programs, again, in a  4-program set and an 8-program set; in early 2008 he released  a further 12 programs, again broken down into 4-program and 8-program sets. A total of 12 programs, again broken into 4- and 8- program albums, was released in 2010. In January 2010 he released another group of 8 programs, making a total of 56 programs in distribution. The line is in Barnes & Noble and numerous other retail outlets, as well as in a number of direct marketing distributors, and is being distributed by other “classic radio” companies and websites. We have been registering the individual titles for copyright as they are released.  There are purchase links to the Shepherd CDs which are available on Amazon, at the bottom of this page.


“Jean Parker Shepherd (July 26, 1921 – October 16, 1999) was an American raconteur, radio and TV personality, writer and actor who was often referred to by the nickname Shep.With a career that spanned decades, Shepherd is best known to modern audiences for the film A Christmas Story (1983), which he narrated and co-scripted, based on his own semi-autobiographical stories.

"Born on the south side of Chicago, Illinois, Shepherd was raised in Hammond, Indiana, where he graduated from Hammond High School in 1939. The movie A Christmas Story is based on his days growing up in Hammond's southeast side neighborhood of Hessville. As a youth he worked briefly as a mail carrier in a steel mill and earned his Amateur Radio license, sometimes claiming he got it at 16, other times saying he was even younger. Shepherd was a lifelong White Sox fan.
During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Shepherd then had an extensive career in a variety of media.

"Shepherd began his broadcast radio career on WSAI in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1948. From 1951 to 1953 he had a late-night broadcast on KYW in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, after which he returned to Cincinnati for a show on WLW. After a stint on television (see below), he returned to radio. "Shep," as he was known, settled in at WOR radio New York City, New York on an overnight slot in 1956, where he delighted his fans by telling stories, reading poetry (especially the works of Robert W. Service), and organizing comedic listener stunts. The most famous of the last involved creating a hoax about a non-existent book, I, Libertine, by the equally non-existent 18th century author "Frederick R. Ewing", in 1956. During a discussion on how easy it was to manipulate the best seller lists, which at that time were based not only on sales but demand, Shepherd suggested that his listeners visit bookstores and ask for a copy of I, Libertine which led to booksellers attempting to purchase the book from their distributors. Fans of the show eventually took it further, planting references to the book and author so widely that demand for the book led to it being listed on The New York Times Best Seller list. Shepherd, Theodore Sturgeon and Betty Ballantine later wrote the actual book, with a cover painted by illustrator Frank Kelly Freas, published by Ballantine Books. Among his close friends in the late 1950s were Shel Silverstein and Herb Gardner. With them and actress Lois Nettleton, Shepherd performed in the revue he created, Look, Charlie. Later he was married to Nettleton for about six years.

"When he was about to be released by WOR in 1956 for not being commercial, he did a commercial for Sweetheart Soap, not a sponsor, and was immediately fired. His listeners besieged WOR with complaints, and when Sweetheart offered to sponsor him he was reinstated. Eventually, he attracted more sponsors than he wanted—the commercials interrupted the flow of his monologues. Ex WOR engineer, Frank Cernese, adds: The commercials of that era were on "ETs"—phonograph records about 14" in diameter. Three large turntables were available to play them in sequence. However, Shepherd liked the engineer to look at him and listen when he told his stories. That left little time to load the turntables and cue the appropriate cuts. That's when he started complaining about "too many commercials"!. He broadcast until he left WOR in 1977. His subsequent radio work consisted of only short segments on several other stations including crosstown WCBS. His final radio gig was the Sunday night radio show "Shepherd's Pie" on WBAI-FM in the mid-1990s, which consisted of his reading his stories uncut, uninterrupted and unabridged. The show was one of WBAI's most popular of the period.

"In later life he publicly dismissed his days as a radio raconteur as unimportant, focusing more on his writing and movie work. This distressed his legions of fans who fondly remembered nights with Shepherd on WOR. He once made such comments during an appearance on the Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder. This contrasts with his frequent criticisms of television during his radio programs.

"In addition to his stories, his shows also contained, among other things, humorous anecdotes and general commentaries about the human condition, observations about life in New York, accounts of vacations in Maine and travels throughout the world. Among the most striking of his programs was his account of his participation in the March on Washington in August 1963, during which Dr. Martin Luther King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech, and the program that aired on November 25, 1963—the day of President Kennedy's burial. However, his most scintillating programs remain his oftimes prophetic, bitingly humorous commentaries about ordinary life in America.

"Throughout his radio career, he performed entirely without scripts. His friend and WOR colleague Barry Farber marveled at how he could talk so long with very little written down. Yet during a radio interview, Shepherd once claimed that some shows took several weeks to prepare. On most of his Fourth of July broadcasts, however, he would read one of his most enduring and popular short stories, "Ludlow Kissel and the Dago Bomb that Struck Back," about a neighborhood drunk and his disastrous fireworks escapades. In the 1960s and 1970s, his WOR show ran from 11:15 pm to midnight, later changed to 10:15 pm to 11 pm, so his "Ludlow Kissel" reading was coincidentally timed to many New Jersey and New York local town fireworks displays, which would traditionally reach their climax at 10 pm. It was possible, on one of those July 4 nights, to park one's car on a hilltop and watch several different pyrotechnic displays, accompanied by Shepherd's masterful storytelling.....”

For samples of the greatest racounteur there ever was on radio (according to The New York Times, says Shepherd), the players below have four Jean Shepherd pieces:

Player No. 1:  The famous Jean Shepherd radio theme, followed by his musings about how historical figures must have been like us in many ways.

Player No. 2:  The "pitch" that Jean recorded for Hartwest when it took over the production of the series, and syndicated it nationally, followed by "The Famousn Baseball Story" about the legendary losers, The Chicago Cubs.

Player No. 3:  Shepherd explains why watching or even listening to baseball, is superior to television; his critique of the New York Yankees announcers making small tall during a rain delay is priceless.


The first group of Jean Shepherd radio shows were released through a distribution agreement with Mark Tepper's Radio Spirits label; he did a masterful job of packaging, reflecting that this most important channel of distribution was through conventional retail stores.  He packaged the shows in groups of four or eight, and the prices he established are relatively modest, reflecting the very small royalty which we receive.  There are links below to for the purchase of the Radio Spirits releases.

The second group of Jean Shepherd radio shows were released on our Mr. FAT-W Audio label; we bypass the retail stores completely -- this explains the "bare bones" style of our labels, and the absence of extras, such as a booklet inside of the CD boxes; we sell hard-copy CDs only through and catalogs.  However, they are also available through digital download, digital rental, and digital purchase, on a wide range of Internet sites.  We only establish a list price -- the "MSRP," or "Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price" -- and have absolutely no control over what they actually sell for.  The resellers may discount the MSRP, or stick to it but offer additional inducements, such as free shipping.  We really aren't greedy in establishing a $14.99 MSRP for a single CD, since our CD manufacturing cost is exactly the same as it is for a DVD, and we only get a percentage of the MSRP.  What we can promise, is that we will eventually release ALL of our Jean Shepherd programs, regardless of how many of them we think we might sell.  The links to to directly purchase the Mr. FAT-W Audio Shepherd CDs, are below.

The first group of our Mr. FAT-W Audio releases, are as follows:

Volume 1
Jean introduces himself

Volume 2
Jean muses on the American Way of Life.

Volume 3
Jean discusses his tuba playing.

Volume 4
Jean discusses how to cook for cheap, and shares his recipes.

Volume 5
Jean muses about Great Britain.

Volume 6
Jean gets serious in discussing mankind, in the first of two programs devoted to the subject.

Volume 7
The second program about mankind.

Volume 8
Jean demonstrates the Singing Shepherd, self-indulgence, and music in general.  

Volume 9
Jean explores rarely-discussed impulses, and the magic underlying the pie-throwing in movies.

Volume 10
Jean discusses prison life, and how news is communicated behind bars.

Volume 11
Jean suggests ways to get away from the rotten life you are probably living.

Volume 12
Jean explores the meaning of words, straight from the dictionary.


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