WSAI - 1360 AM Cincinnati, Ohio January 28, 1947 - January 10, 1948 and July 1, 1949 - March 31, 1951
This was Shep's second longest stay at a radio station, WOR being the longest, even though it was split between two times. (January 28, 1947 - January 10, 1948 and July 1, 1949 - March 31, 1951). It is also where he began to use "Bahn Frei" as his theme music, the details of which are covered below by Steve Glazer.
In the first year his schedule varied in the 3:30 to 4:15 time period as the Shepherd Show.
He also did a morning show, called Easy Listening from 7:00am to 8:00am, and an afternoon show at 1:30 called Party Line. See Steve Glazer's comments below.
After his return he settled into the 11:00pm to 1:00am slot on weekdays. On Saturdays his show was 6:00pm to 6:30pm ad 10:00pm to 1:00am. His weekday schedule also showed times of 5:00pm to 5:30pm on 12/30/1949 and 6:00pm to 6:30pm on 8/20/1949.
In December 1950 he was doing a Sunday show from 4:00pm to 5:00pm.
On March 31, 1951 he was listed for the Saturday 10:00 to 1:00am slot, his last show on WSAI.
[ Courtesy: Steve Glazer - 07-24-2016 ]
Although Shep would sometimes speak of his early days in Cincinnati radio, he usually didn't mention any specific station call letters (with WLW being a notable exception). Nevertheless, his career in that city is well documented (however, the true facts have surprisingly eluded numerous radio historians, even those in Cincinnati).
By the summer of 1946, Shep had withdrawn from his classes in psychology at Indiana University, leaving his Cleveland Street home in Hammond for a hotel room in Toledo to take a position at WTOD. He never looked back. By the turn of the year, he permanently pulled up stakes and left for Cincinnati's radio market, where he would remain for some years. He initially rented an apartment with first wife Barbara Mattoon in Covington, Kentucky. In those early days, he often walked to work in Cincinnati, crossing the Ohio River on the nearby John A. Roebling Bridge to reach the studios of WSAI at the Hotel Sinton, located at East 4th and Vine Streets. (The Sinton was torn down in 1968 and replaced by the National City Tower.)
Shep made his Cincinnati radio debut in a 45-minute afternoon time slot beginning at 3:30 on WSAI. It was eponymously called the "Shepherd Show." According to listings in local papers, Shep's premiere apparently occurred on Tuesday, January 28, 1947. (Perhaps he started on Monday but it was not then listed.) By the end of April, the afternoon show had been cut to 30 minutes. However, by then, he was also serving as DJ for an hour-long morning show beginning at 7:00 called "Easy Listening." And he also assumed hosting duties for Cincinnati's only daytime live music show, called "Partyline," which began at 1:30 in the afternoon and ran for 45 minutes. It included live singers and a 10-piece orchestra that played "almost classical and popular music." On top of all this, Shep was spinning a DJ show on Saturdays.
By the summer of 1947, Shep was hosting a late-night, 45-minute daily program on WSAI, beginning just after midnight following the news and airing until sign-off at the end of the station's day. By the end of July, Shep's nighttime program was christened "Bay Horse Opera," sponsored by Covington's Bay Horse Ale. It was at this time that he adopted the horsy Bahn frei! polka as his theme music, which he would continue to use until his last WOR radio broadcast on April 1, 1977.
On September 30, 1947, Shep was one of thirteen broadcasters elected to the board of directors of the Cincinnati local of the American Federation of Radio Artists.
By the close of 1947, Shep was on WSAI very early in the morning with his "Easy Listening" show, and at the very end of the evening with his nighttime "Shepherd Show," which brought the station to daily sign off.
However, shortly thereafter, on January 10, 1948 -- after having become a prominent face of WSAI with a loyal fan base -- Shep inexplicably left the station, with the local press providing no explanation. About two months later, Shep resurfaced in Cincinnati with a late-night DJ show on WCKY.
On July 1, 1949, following a stint as an announcer and DJ at Cincinnati's WKRC, he returned to WSAI, where he would remain for the better part of two more years.
Shep's return to WSAI was in a nighttime slot doing a "platter and chatter" program from 11:00 pm to 1:00 am, starting an hour earlier on Saturday. In each case, it would be the last show broadcast until station sign off for the day. Before the first month of his return was over, Shep also had an early-evening show added to his broadcasting chores (later changed to the late afternoon). By the following month, he was doing live interviews on his late-night program. By the end of the summer, he added a Saturday afternoon program called "Football Scorecard," which gave a lengthy roundup of the week's college scores and games.
On October 28, 1949, "Old Shep" -- as he would thereafter be known in Cincinnati -- began broadcasting his late-night DJ show from suburban restaurants, including Lunken Airport's Sky Galley (where he met second wife Joan Warner), and later Shuller's Wigwam (which closed in June 2000, later torn down for redevelopment).
It all finally came to an end at WSAI on Saturday, March 31, 1951, when Shep broadcast his last late-night show -- immediately following a transcription of that year's academy awards -- and left for KYW in Philadelphia with wife Joan.
[ Courtesy: Mike Martini - 11-11-2009 ]
Hired as announcer, he used to do remote broadcasts from Shuller's Wigwam Restaurant. In addition to the Shuller's Wigwam broadcasts, Shep also did a show from Sky Galley Restaurant. A copy of the opening segment which does not have Shep's voice has survived and is described below by Mike Martini author of "Images of America: Cincinnati Radio"
"The program was broadcast from the Sky Galley restaurant, a small restaurant inside Cincinnati's small, historic municipal airport on the eastern side of Cincinnati called Lunken airport."
"The first voice is of Hal Woodard, a staff announcer at WSAI in the late 40's/early 50's. The voice of the old pilot, I almost certain, is Jon Arthur as it's the same voice he uses to play the character Ukey Betcha on his nationally broadcast "Big Jon and Sparky" show."
In September 1949 Shep was the 'umpire' for a Baseball Talkathon on WSAI. It was a contest between Pat Monahan, a Chicago Cubs scout and WSAI sportscaster Lee Allen to determine who is baseball's greatest talker. It lasted from 8:00pm to 3:04am and Lee Allen came out the winner.
Also from Mike Martini:
"A recording was found on an old WSAI 16" transcription disc labeled "Jean Shepherd Farewell." Before you get too excited, Shep is not on the recording - rather, I surmise, it was an off-air gag tribute his co-workers created for him after Jean quit the station around 1951. Still, it does give us some insights into the format of Jean's show, how much his co-workers adored him and the fact that Jean obviously was not fired, but quit on his own accord."