When Shep was in high school, he played defensive back on the football team. In his Sophomore year a faculty advisor connected with the local radio station asked him to do commentary on the week's game on a Saturday morning half hour sports show.
(Jean Shepherd - 1970 Overseas Press Club Conference)
According to the 1945 Hammond Indiana City Directory and the Radio at War brochure from early 1945, Shep was working at WJOB as an announcer at that time after his discharge from the army in December 1944. He may have returned to WJOB (formerly WWAE), where it has been sometimes suggested he worked while at Hammond High. By the summer of 1946, Shep had left Hammond for Toledo, Ohio, when he joined the staff of WTOD.
In March 1947 he married Barbara Mattoon who also worked at WJOB as a librarian according to the same 1945 Hammond City Directory. At this time it appears that he was already working at WSAI in Cincinnati.|
|[ Courtesy: Steve Glazer - 05-11-2016 ]
Shep got his start as a professional broadcaster at radio station WJOB in Hammond, Indiana, his hometown, in early 1945, soon after his discharge from the U.S. Army. By the following year, he was off to other, larger markets.
Commercial radio in Hammond began in the mid-1920s. By the end of the decade, 100-watt WWAE had taken to the air on 1200 kc. WWAE is where Shep may have announced Hammond High School's sports scores before he graduated in June 1939.
In 1937, the owners of WWAE established WHIP, a 5,000-watt station at 1480 Kc., to reach a wider and more diverse audience. It began broadcasting on October 11, 1937, as the second radio station then serving Hammond. However, WWAE remained the city's principal voice for local programming. Mr. Olney Energy ("O. E.") Richardson, part owner of Hammond-Calumet Broadcasting Corp., was general manager of both stations.
On June 25, 1940, the Federal Communications Commission approved the sale of WWAE and transfer of its license to Richardson and Dr. Fred L. Adair, both of whom had been in charge of the station since the previous September. In early September 1940, Richardson and Adair were on the air with the station's brand new call letters, WJOB, obtained to emphasize the station's change in ownership and management. And sometime around the turn of the year, the station's frequency was moved to 1230 Kc., where it remains today.
No instance has been uncovered where Shep himself ever acknowledged -- at least explicitly -- having worked at WJOB in Hammond. Nevertheless, Shep did refer during several WOR broadcasts, when telling of his early days in radio, to some of the station's actual staff in Hammond. For example, "Mr. Richardson" -- the general manager of WJOB -- was mentioned by Shep as his "boss" during the WOR shows of February 26, 1964, and April 18, 1969. The 1964 show also referred to "Sam Weller" as the station's program director. Weller was in fact the program director at WJOB in the mid-1940s.
In any event, the historical record conclusively establishes that Shep indeed got his professional start in broadcasting at his hometown radio station shortly after discharge from the U.S. Army in December 1944. The Hammond City Directory for 1945 lists Shep as an "announcer" at "WJOB Radio Sta[tion]" (with Shep still living with his mother and the Old Man gone from the family home). And a wartime brochure published by the station in early 1945 -- just prior to V-E Day in May -- includes a picture of Shep among the station's on-air staff. The same brochure also includes pictures of Richardson and Weller.
Although Shep was to leave WJOB by the spring of the following year, he apparently met his first wife, Barbara Mattoon, at the station. Barbara -- an attractive ringer for a young Bette Davis -- was the station's music librarian while Shep worked there.