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Summary

The Night People
Airdate: Monday - October 1, 1956


Show Description
People who sweat cut an ordinary, humdrum existence make up a world ever at war with "night people." This is the opinion advanced by a late-hour New Jersey disk jockey named Jean (after Victor Hugo's Jean Valjean) Shepherd, 33, whose burgeoning radio audience is estimated at 400,000) is largely a cult of Shepherd zealots. For six months, soft-spoken Record-Spinner Shepherd fired off occasional jazz salvos 4-1/2 hours a night seven nights a week, for Mutual's WOR (blanketing 13 states). But Shepherd's main weapon against the "day people" was a wacky, steam-of-consciousness monologue, e.g., discussing the vital role of the "Flexible Flyer sled in the U.S. cultural renaissance," the diificulties of explaining Coney Island to a scientist from Venus, the socio-anthropological facts behind wearing paper hats at parties. Well Regimented. Last month the "smug, righteous" day people, as Shepherd calls them, closed ranks: WOR declared Shepherd "noncommercial" and sacked him, thus setting off a clangor of protest heard halfway across the land. Next day the chain gave him a week's reprieve. Then Shepherd tried a hard-sell on the first commercial product that popped into mind, Sweetheart Soap (which had never been a WOR sponsor). He was abruptly cut off the air and fired again. Announced WOR: "We cannot permit such poor judgement to continue uncontrolled." Just as bruptly, WOR ate its words. Sweetheart Soap rewarded Shepherd's free plug by offering to sponsor him on a weekly show. This week Shepherd was filling WOR's hottest spot: Sunday,9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Compared to the tired cheeriness of many disk jockeys, Shepherd's offbeat humor is refreshing. Much of his talk is pure doubletalk, but some is shrewd, if cockeyed, comment from an educated comic (B.A., Maryland U; M.A. in psychology, Indiana). The greatest thing America has to fear, he avers, is "creeping meatballism," i.e., "the adulation of all that is mediocre - the 'nothings' in the world that might have become fads." In the day people v. night people conflict, the night people are in danger because the day folk - who "live in an endless welter of train schedules, memo pads and red tape" - are so well regimented. Turbulent, Turgid. As an elaborate gag, Shepherd began booming last month a purely imaginary historical novel - a "turbulent, turgid, tempestuous" composite of Frank Yerby, Kathleen Windsor and Norman Vincent Peale." The book was first conceived as a hoax to shatter the faith of day people in their own "book lists." Shepherd urged fans to canvass shops for the non-existent title "I, Libertine," ascribed to "non-author than" Frederick R. Ewing, "well-remembered for his BBC talks" on 18th century erotica. By noon next day, one Manhatten store had received some 30 orders. The title mysteriously appeared on Boston's list of banned books. Enterprising Publisher Ian Balantine quickly had publicity-prone Shepherd ghostwrite such a book (with Fantasy-Fiction Writer Theodore Sturgeon). Some 30 days later they served up an 18th century creampuff ("'Gadzooks,' quoth I, 'but here's a saucy bawd!'") dedicated to the night people. Eyeing WOR's slippery prize, ABC recently offered Shepherd a "too-early" coast to coast time slot. Turning it down, he warned ominously: "Once I infiltrate the daytime world, it is doomed.
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October 01,1956
Time

Courtesy: Pete Delaney

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