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Airdate: 1973

Last Update: 01-12-2009

Show Description
Jean Shepherd is one of the great storytellers of this age. On radio, in public appearances, in his books and magazine pieces, he talks about his childhood in Indiana and it becomes your childhood - no matter how old you are or where you live. He talks about growing up in a grimy mill town, surrounded by his father's bowling balls, his mother's red cabbage, and a kid brother who whined a lot. And somehow he relates it all to being young today. "Kids are a big part of my audience," he told Voice. "When I tell story, a kid gets something different from it than an adult does. I tell a story about a prom, for example. Many adults don't even know schools still have proms. But I get letters from kids saying, 'You must have been at my prom!' I'm talkin about the universal prom. "In my day there were always those who put down proms and football games. We accepted that. Today kids like that who are getting all the attention in the press. Everything is not the same today as it used to be, but the rituals remain the same. I write and talk about rituals - folk rituals. "When I write about a country fair, it's not one from my Youth. It's one I've just been to. I spend my time traveling. I've been on the road since I was 17. When you're an 'on-the-road' type, it's the land you love, not just the town you come from." Shepherd grew up in Hammond, Ind. "My part of Indiana wasn't bucolic," Shepherd said. "It was urban and industrial. I use the word 'Indiana' in my stories because it's a representative place, not because I love it. I'm not doing memory things. If I were, I'd be a reporter. I use 'I' in the universal sense, not I, Jean Shepherd." Jean played football as a teenager but he was even more interested in technical things. "I was an amateur radio operator and built radios and transmitters," he said. When he was 16, he started doing a weekly high school sportscast for a local radio station. Today his radio show on WOR has one of the biggest late-night audiences in New York City and is carried on other stations around the country. His collection of stories, Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories and Other Disasters, is in its fourth printing - and he's in great demand for performances on college campuses. "I'd like my writing to be enjoyed as much 10 years from now as it is today," he said. "That's why I'm not doing memory things. A young man said to me recently that he'd heard my Army stories and didn't know what I was talking about until he got in the Army. If I were talking memories, guys in Viet Nam wouldn't understand the war I was in. I'm talking about army life, not an army or a war. That's what makes classic literature. It's universal." Shepherd lives in New York City, but he sees the city as something of a threat to writers. "Almost everything in America that's read or published comes from New York City," he said. "Writers are swallowed up by New York City. A writer hates Indiana, so he comes to New York and tends to believe that life out there is gone because it's gone for him. He's lost touch." Jean Shepherd hasn't lost touch.
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Courtesy: Pete Delaney

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