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Summary

Shepherd Hoax Pays Off, Gets His Book Published
Airdate: Friday - August 10, 1956


Last Update: 08-16-2020

Show Description
One hates to sound like a prophet, but, if all you "daytime people'' are writhing in your red tape and reeling in confusion, don't say we didn't warn you. This department sounded the clarion call several months ago when Jean Shepherd, the soft-spoken after-midnight radio hoaxer, just made known to us his diabolical plans against law and order. "Watch out for this man,'' (we said in effect), "with his fanatical and disciplined army of shadowy 'night people,' he may well succeed in his ruthless scheme to drive us desk-chained day folks out of our minds." Now it's happened. Shepherd's non-existent novel, "I, Libertine," by non-existent "Frederick R. Ewing," has been made existent by Ballantine Books, a publishing firm ostensibly made up of respectable daytime people, but in reality, shot through with disguised Shepherd irregulars. BOOK WORLD CONFUSED In brief, several months ago Shepherd ordered his slave-like followers to badger unsuspecting book dealers with orders for this imaginary "I Libertine" novel. They did their nefarious work so effectively, defenseless book-sellers fell out with their jobbers, who in turn fell out with their publishers, who in turn contemplated falling out of windows in their frustration. It was at this point that Ballantine Books unmasked, and confided to Shepherd that they were wise to his little plot. What's more they were willing to publish "I, Libertine," if Shepherd would write it. The lure of beating the daytimers at their own game proved irresistible, and the unconventional Shepherd wrote the book in collaboration with Ted Sturgeon. He is now planning to rent a daytime type office, with telephones, switchboard operators, and a year's supply of red tape. "This thing has caused a profound change in my thinking," laments Shepherd. "Before being forced into respectability, I was a free man. I made it my business to miss appointments faithfully, refused to consult a physician when a headache persisted, and smoked cornsilk. Since becoming an author, I've been on time for three Appointments in a row, and - I don't know how to say this - the other day I saw a sign that said THINK! And do you know what I did? I THOUGHT!" HEIGHT OF IRONY Actually, thinking has been a trait of Shepherd's which has maddened the Madison Ave. brigade ever since he hit New York and began talking to radio audiences as if they were literate adults, with senses of humor. Most ironic element of Shepherd's "I, Libertine" hoax is that just at the time when the book is being published, proving Shepherd's pulling power and control over his audience, he is being bounced by WOR on the grounds that he is not commercial. Here is a man who has garnered thousands of orders for a book that did not even exist - until his persuasion created a physical demand for its creation. Yet he is called uncommercial. The height of irony is that the Radio Advertisers' Council has ordered several hundred copies of the "uncommercial" Shepherd's "I, Libertine." The book will be used in the council's promotional campaign to convince prospective sponsors how effectively a radio personality can sell a product. Incidentally, in the wake of the reams of publicity on l'affaire "I, Libertine," several hardheaded daytime business types have been baiting Shepherd with offers to go on the air during the daytime, possibly in the false hope they will then be able to keep an eye on him. Their naivete delights Shepherd. With a fiendish chuckle, he gloats, "They are playing into my hands. Once I infiltrate the daytime world, they are doomed. Can you visualize the possibilities in turning millions of daytimes into nighttimers?"
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