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Too Much For Words? Not on This Show
Airdate: Monday - October 14, 1963

Show Description
Jean Shepherd is unique. For in all radio land, that vast plain populated by faceless voices that feed on tinned music and emit eternally resonant cheer, there is nothing that resembles him. There is no one else who sits before a microphone and, without benefit of script or notes, regularly holds a vast audience with a program constructed of intensely personal reminiscences, comments, emotions, thought, concepts and ideas. The torrent of words, adding up to moral footnotes on the current scene, can be experienced nightly during the pre-midnight hour on station WOR. Even this interview proved a unique experience for one who makes his living talking with entertainers, with starlets - male and female, with face-peddlers who hire a writer when they need an idea. The talk with Shep, as he calls himself, began at 10 PM. It broke only once, then for his nightly 45-minute dip into his own stream of consciousness, and continued until almost dawn. What follows has. necessarily been abridged, expurgated, condensed and edited. It is but a small portion of what he had to say, a brief glimpse at a complex personality, a Shepherd sampler. On his program ("A lot of guys have tried this kind of show, but they find it's a tricky thing. People think you just go out and talk - quell, forget it dad. I'm a dramatist. I know how to build the scene and hold the tension. Some shows I think about for two or three weeks and then one night I come in-.and just feel that it's right. I've never been at a loss for words. I don't fill time. I don't have 45 minutes to fill; I have four things I've got to tell. This is my personal view of the world." On -New York City: "It's the capital of the world for the disenchanted. It's a goal, Nirvana, dad, for thousands of guys. But they get here and they discover they still have trouble with their chicks. It's getting to heaven only to find out that heaven is just like the office." On man's - basic nature: "To me, man is basically a beast, an animal. With just one interesting difference from other animals. Imagination. Not a conscience, but imagination. Imagination has just said somewhere along the line, I think I'll invent a conscience." On man's motivations: "We're a carnivore. We must kill; we have to kill. Why do we play baseball? It's the defeat of another team, a killing. That's why it's fun. The basic urge is the killing urge. Far more basic to a carnivore than common sense. The great discovery will come: there are things more basic, more operative, to man than the sex urge; it's the killing urge." On a recent assignment, covering an air-plane crash: "Look, we all get a secret pleasure from watching the airplane go down. Fascinating, absolutely fascinating - a fantastic spectacle. I'd like to tell you I felt-sorry for all those poor people. But when we see a big evil, it's no longer an evil - it's a spectacle. Everybody loved it, dad, everybody loved that airplane, crash. They wrote in and said, Shep, that was the best thing you ever did. If the bareback rider falls, that's an added bonus. The trapeze artist - what would happen if there were no killing urge? Circuses, auto racing, even chess would end overnight. On the next war: "The things we really hate, we don't talk about. Cancer, death. But everyone talks about war. My feelings about William Golding, he's closer to the truth than any other writer. The next war will be started by Ralph and Piggy. Everyone's bad; it's just that some guys die before their time to be bad comes up." On religion: "Today nobody has religion. What does religion do? It puts the fear of God, the fear of the Big Payoff, in you. No-body believes that it's okay so long as you can get swan with it. Period. Example, not one person in Russia feels any compunction about Hungary. The Germans felt no compunction about the Jews - if only they could have gotten away with it. And that was 63,000,000 people, dad, that was a big cross-section." And on being official: "My trouble, I'm still not official. Take Groucho Marx, he's official. He stands up on a stage and says it's raining outside. Everyone goes ha, ha, ha - did ya hear that? Rolling in the aisles. Take playwrights, not one playwright is telling the story today. They just toss in a few key phrases - peace,' love,' the American way of life.' People go away shaking their heads, saying, 'Wow, that Albee really said it.' But I haven't been given the laurel leaf yet; I'm still not official.'
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Engineer and others in Booth
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October 14,1963

Courtesy: Pete Delaney

Airdate History ' - Original' date is earliest known broadcast)
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