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15 Posts

Posted - 06/26/2006 :  22:41:37  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I’ve been checking old newspaper archives in an effort to document Jean Shepherd’s radio broadcasts before he became very popular on WOR in New York. He was doing his thing for 7 years before getting to WOR.

Beginning in 1948, he worked at WCKY, WKRC and WSAI, all in Cincinnati. He remained at WSAI until April of 1951. Newspaper radio logs in the Middletown (OH) Journal in February of 1950 indicated he was doing a weekday 5 to 5:30 p.m. program as well as a late night show on WSAI.

On April 4, 1951, he began doing a late-night broadcast on KYW in Philadelphia. The 11:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. broadcast, originating from the Town Room of the Penn Sheraton Hotel, continued until January of 1953.

Beginning in April of 1953, Shepherd did the overnight broadcast on WLW in Cincinnati as well as a Saturday afternoon show that usually ran from 2:30 to 4 p.m. These broadcasts continued until late 1954.

He also did some TV in Cincinnati. In an article in the Hammond (IN) Times on July 26, 1956, he recalled one TV program in Cincinnati, “I built an intricate maze. The show opened with the camera entering the maze and for 25 minutes, while I kept talking, the camera wandered through the maze looking for me, running into dead ends and trying new routes. It never found me.”

Shepherd began at WOR radio in New York February 26, 1955. A February 25 article in the Bridgeport Telegram said, “WOR will launch the Jean Shepherd Show on Saturday afternoon, from 4:30 to 6 o’clock. Shepherd, who comes from WLW in Cincinnati, is hailed as ‘a unique philosopher who uses jazz and classical music as a background for his mood-setting chatter – a gentleman with a distinct idea – to make people think while he is entertaining them.’”

Beginning January 5, 1956, he began doing the 1 to 5:30 a.m. overnight show on WOR which continued until the end of August of 1956. A WOR listing in February of 1956 also included: “4:00 p.m. – DRIVE EAST: Music and chatter with Jean Shepherd and Tommy Reynolds.”

Joe Mosbrook


2 Posts

Posted - 12/20/2006 :  01:37:13  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I worked for GE in Cincinnati in the fall of 1949 and into 1950. I can't definitely remember which station Jean was holding forth on at that time; I thought it was WLW, not WCKY, because upon my return to Ithaca NY I encountered a schoolmate there who said he could listen to Jean on WLW, which was clear-chanel 50,000 watts. This doesn't quite agree with your notes.

My real interest is in finding the name of the music piece he used as a theme then. Something about horses I think. Does anyone know?
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233 Posts

Posted - 12/23/2006 :  23:21:35  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
While most Shep bios do acknowledge the other Cinncy station, I am certain Shep was on WLW as well,and I have seen pics of the WLW news car, a "Crosley", as described by Shep in several of his programs.He alleged the car was driven into the Ohio river.
So why would the bios not mention WLW? I suspect it was because Shep and Mr Crosley had a very personal difference with one another, and Shep just "struck" Crosley from his vocabulary.Shep was a true egocentric, albeit creative genius,and made it clear many times (especially on the air), he did not condone anybody telling him how to do his job.This is a common trait of many "great persons" of contribution.
BTW,Mr Crosley hated the works of Robert Service (according to Shep), and I suspect it made Shep read Service all the more.
Crosley fired Shep.........
At any rate, this raises a "what if" question similar to wondering what Boston might have been, had George Herman Ruth been allowed to stay there!

(Last minute thought):Mr Crosley had built quite an empire with his radios,autos, and media stations. Even though he already owned WLW in Cinncy, he purchased WCKY and it became WLW-T, (the television pioneering station for Crosley broadcasting systems.)
While the FCC had allowed certain stations to have 50,000 watts, (truly a huge broadcasting capability), WLW was given a special permit (with a time limitation of months), to broadcast on a much greater wattage. Shep mentioned this on several programs as the station that was so powerful it was regularly heard on Guadalcanal,(and it was).It ran at 500,000 watts from 1934 to 1937.
When FDR himself, on the air, hit the power switch for the new station in 1934, nothing happened, because it took half an hour for so much wattage to "power up"..It was a quite unplanned embarrassment...
The "etra power permit" was eventually allowed to expire because it created an unfair advantage over the "weaker" 50,000 watt monster stations, like WSM.WLS,WOR,etc..

In Hoc Agricula Conc
In Est Spittle Louk

Edited by - m10bob on 12/25/2006 11:48:10
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