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Jean Shepherd: King of the Swingers
Airdate: Monday - October 16, 1961

Last Update: 07-28-2008

Show Description
IN A CITY where the population can be roughly divided into swingers and squares, Jean Shepherd is an important personality; he is the undisputed leader of the swingers. Primarily, Shep (as his faithful fans call him) is a controversial radio humorist. People either swear by him or at him, but his popularity is astounding. He holds court on WOK Mondays through Fridays from 11:15 to the witching hour of midnight, and on a clear night, the acute listener can hear the simultaneous click of thousands of radios being turned on to catch the master's voice. Shep is a habit-forming stimulant. To those not already hooked, the nature of the addiction is difficult to explain. He can start his show off on a prosaic idea and translate it into inspired madness. Humor, sometimes gentle, sometimes sardonic but always perpetrating, is his tool. For him, nothing is sacred. Madison Avenue, Mother, creeping knot-headism, vicarious living (. . . "a whole generation of Playboy readers is growing up thinking that chicks fold out.") , nostalgia, misplaced optimism ("Everyone keeps talking about fallout. Isn't anyone concerned with the actual blast?") arc some of his targets. Nor does he stop on our shores. ("Idiocy is probably a European import. We just package it better here.") Shep has been termed "radio's friendly iconoclast." He is dedicated to the proposition that this is not necessarily the best of all possible worlds. He feels we are wrongly committed to dreams, myths and fantasies. With a sharp verbal stiletto, he pares away the contradictions, and under his conversational probing the ironies of modern life leap into clear and taunting focus. It's not difficult to 'understand why thinking humorists like James Thurber, Steve Allen, S. J. Perelman and J. D. Salinger number themselves among his avid listeners. In fact, the loyalty of his following is practically legendary. On one of his shows he mentioned a non-existant hook, "I, Libertine," and urged his listeners to ask for it from bookstore clerks (who deny the reality of any work not on their official lists). Thousands of orders for this "best seller" flooded the stores, driving the clerks batty. The response finally was so overwhelming that one book company asked Shep and another writer to actually write such a book. They did, and its sales thus far are over the 300,000 mark. For Shep, a Midwesterner of some thirty very odd years, everything has always panned out. He is a successful squiggly-line pen-and-ink artist whose drawings grace such publications as The Village Voice and The Reporter. His acting talents were recently displayed in off-Broadway shows, "The Voice of the Turtle" and "The Tender Trap." As a writer he compiled and edited a hilarious collection of stories by George Ade, and he is currently at work on his first book, "Pretty Bubbles in the Air." He is writing sketches for and is committed to perform in Leonard Sillman's upcoming "New Faces" whenever that. Hits Broadway. Shep has clone TV, summer stock ("Destry" last summer; "The Music Man" next season) and appears occasionally in nightclubs. In an era of specialization, he is a nonspecialist of many wide-ranging interests and talents. So, turn on Shep one of these nights and swing with this off-beat philosopher who neither stands on top of the heap nor under it, but somewhere off to the side, laughing.
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October 06,1961
Entre Magazine - Article

October 06,1961
Entre Magazine - Cover

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