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Summary

400 Hold A Wake For Radio Cult
Airdate: Monday - August 13, 1956


Show Description
Four hundred followers of a nocturnal radio satirist who is about to be, as he put it, "canned," gathered in Manhattan last night in a final pitiful show of non-strength and disorganization." They met in front of the burne-out Wanamaker Building at Fourth Avenue and Eighth Street because they said they liked "the Charles Addams feel of the thing." Mr. Addams is famous for his goulish cartoon characters. Their purpose was to protest the dismissal of Jean Shepherd, who for the last six months has preached the doctrine of "better living through alchemy" over Radio Station WOR from 1v to 5:30 in the morning. Mr. Shepherd, a rather shy, professorial young man has built a quietly fanatic audience among self-confessed eggheads, college students, artists, performers, semi-professional intellectuals. The trouble seems to be that he didn't sell soap. He is spokesman for the Night People, who apparently are out of step with the whole order of things. They gathered at dusk, when the Day People in their crisp business suits are ensconced in their suburban ranch houses, splashing the ice in their drinks and raking over the coals of the day's office gossip. Night People come out, they say, when the neon lights are standing bold against the sky and a man can find the time to think. PASSIVE RESISTANCE Last night, theirs was a species of passive resistance. At first the police were set up against the meeting, but this was behaviour they had not often encountered. As one of them policemen put it, "This is like trying to break up a pack of friendly dogs." Finally the 400 persons were herded into a parking lot and allowed to do their business there. Mr. Shepherd addressed the faithful. "Radio is governed by beliefs rather than thinking," he said. "Beliefs that are cleverly called 'ideas'. One is that there is such a thing as an average man and that he's about 10 years old. They believe that nobody likes to hear talk. Putting on a pop record is the easy way out. It takes no ingenuity. It is known that pop records sell - they're sock - so they are on the well-beaten path." Mr. Shepherd thinks that the answer is what he calls "selective radio," programing aimed not at the lowest common denominator, but at a particular audience. After his speech a fan stepped forward. "Most people when they get canned get a gold watch," he said, "but not you Jean." He handed Mr. Shepherd a box of Rice Krispies. The gathering cheered. "Excelsior!" said Mr. Shepherd. Then he went off to do his last show.
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August 13,1956
New York Times - 400 Hold Wake

Courtesy: Pete Delaney

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