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Jean Is My Shepherd
Airdate: Tuesday - November 26, 1963

Last Update: 12-13-2015

Show Description
At eleven-fifteen each weeknight, people all over the eastern U.S. and Canada tune their radios to WOR's King of the Night People, the foe of materialistic "Creeping Meatballism," Jean Shepherd. His show originating in Manhattan is a madcap forty-five minutes of soliloquy, satire, superb description, and off-beat background music. To the melody of "Ragtime Cowboy Joe," he describes the high Jinx of a Depression era boyhood in Cincinnati and Chicago. Or he satirizes such typically human characteristics as forgetfulness and greed. Other favorite butts of his satire are folk music, the U.S. Army, British reserve and "corny-looking" people. Among those in the later group are Nelson Eddy, Gene Autry, Dr. Kildare, Lawrence Welk and Pat Boone. These examples easily conjure up the image of "corny-looking" people. It not that Shepherd dislikes them; he is just recognizing a certain class of Americana. Once he spent the entire show reading Japanese Haiku Poetry with an ancient Japanese stringed instrument playing in the background. Another time, he devoted four straight shows to the recitation of Lewis Carrol's "Hunting of the Snark.'' Shepherd's format is so varied and unexpected that it appeals to a vast number of Night People. One night he read an article from an eastern Ohio newspaper that demonstrated his audience appeal. It seems that a lover's lane was located on the highest hill in the Columbus area and each night it was crowded with adults who just sat in their cars. Finally the police investigated and revealed that all the parkers were listening to the Shepherd show from the only local reception point. What is it that keeps the people awake 'til midnight, five times a week? It is Jean Shepherd's excellent divination of the human character, particularly the American character. People do not like to be laughed at, but they do want to know about themselves, especially the aspects of which they are not aware. They would take offence at being out rightly told that they are materialistic, selfish, illogical, and idiosyncratic. But because of Shepherd's humorous approach, his audience is not offended. They are instead quite eager to accept each new analysis open-mindedly. Jean Shepherd believes that much of life today has no beneficial direction, and he attempts to put meaning into his listener's lives by pointing out their pseudo-goals. The suburban status race is a prime example. The few advertisements he allows on his program are ones which he feels are truly legitimate. Originally, Shepherd's show was on from midnight to five a.m. When a fan sent him a letter revealing the misrepresenting methods of one of his sponsor, he spent the whole night denouncing the product, resulting in the present shortness of his show. Such is his conviction. At midnight, he closes with the words of wisdom "Keep your knees loose," and millions of Americans can then sleep soundly.
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