About Talkers Magazine
Latest Issue Front Page
Talk Radio Research Project
Heavy Hundred 2001
Week in Review
of Talk Radio 2002 Edition
at the Heritage Foundation
He was the grandmaster of the monologue. Without talking to listeners
or interviewing guests, he would talk for sometimes as long as three and
half hours with only an occasional commercial break. And it was usually
Jean Shepherd started as a DJ in Cincinnati working at WCKY, WSAI and
WKRC but preferred talk to playing records. After stints at WLW, Cincinnati
and KYW, Philadelphia, he took the overnight job at WOR, New York and
remained there for 22 years.
In the early 1960s, Shepherd moved to a 45 minute format on WOR. The show
usually aired at 9:15, 10:15 or 11:15 pm. Some nights he would go into
the studio with a scrap of paper with an idea on it or a newspaper article
and launch into a story that was told in the first person. Other nights
he would perform elaborate bits. His stories often revolved around his
childhood, college or army experiences but they always had a point and
always, like our literature teachers told us was necessary, had a beginning,
a middle and an end.
Once, to prove to the sales staff that people listened to his program,
he urged listeners to seek out a book called, “I Libertine.”
The book didn’t exist but soon it was in heavy demand and ended
up on The New York Times bestseller list. He eventually wrote the story
and published the book.
Jean Shepherd may have influenced many of today’s talk hosts but
none have come close to his unique brand of talent that graced the airwaves
of the Northeast during those 22 years.