Home » Brown, Leigh » JEAN SHEPHERD: “CHANNEL CAT—in the Middle Distance”

JEAN SHEPHERD: “CHANNEL CAT—in the Middle Distance”


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[December 10, 2014. This post comes a day earlier than my usual schedule because of the complexities of moving our home about 2 miles further east on Long Island. I’m expecting that the next post and those following will be on the usual schedule–following one on 12/14.]

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The above title is the name of a newly surfaced Shepherd Holy Grail we didn’t even know existed. In that regard, the front matter of one of my unpublished Shep book manuscripts states:


The author beseeches all those potentially munificent fatheads who harbor miscellaneous Jean Shepherd holy grails to come forth with them now before their ignorant heirs toss them in a dumpster.

A Shepherd fan, Jonathan Sanger, after many years of holding onto it, passed along to Jim Clavin a 20-minute video made, apparently, in 1966, by Sanger and his friend Al Tedesco, graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania.

note to jim reChannelCat0006

As Jim Clavin comments, it seems a bit like the broadcast program, “Three Worlds of Jean Shepherd,” in which a WNYC production crew followed Shep during his perambulations in Greenwich Village and elsewhere in 1967. Jim describes that 30-minute program:

“Not much is known about this. I recorded the audio from the show, but can only describe the video portion. The 3 worlds are ‘Radio’, ‘Limelight Shows’ and ‘Writing’. The show follows Shep through the moments right before he goes on the air, walking down the hall and into the studio just as his theme begins to play. Along the way he speaks about the Limelight performances and his writing as he is interviewed in his WOR office by John Wingate (?). There is even a minute of Leigh Brown describing how it was to work with Shep.”


“Channel Cat” also follows Shep around, in this case, mostly within walking distance of his New York WOR broadcast studio at 1440 Broadway (just south of Times Square). Parts of the audio are recordings of Shep talking. What is so wonderful about this video is that we see Shepherd in motion: walking along Broadway, entering WOR premises, being in his office space showing his desk area, in his studio broadcasting, and some shots of producer Leigh Brown in the engineer’s booth on the other side of the glass. Here are some stills, all in glorious black and white video.

Channel_Cat. 1 png

Shep walking the streets of Mid-town with his

small-brimmed, tan hat.

[By pure coincidence, during the mid-60s, for years,

in cool weather, I daily wore the exact same tan hat!]


Shepherd performing at the Limelight.


Shep in the WOR studios, at his desk.

Note the Laurel and Hardy picture, upper left.

There’s also a Buster Keaton portrait there.


Leigh Brown in the engineer’s control booth.


Shep on the air.


On the air, obviously enjoying himself!

Many thanks, for making this video and allowing it to be seen by one and all! Jim Clavin will have more on his site. Let us hope that any others who have Shep material make it available before it’s too late (the dumpster looms for all of us and for all historical records!).



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