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JEAN SHEPHERD and his theme song, etc.

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Marc Spector, who had been working for WBAI, was hired as an associate producer to work with Jean and Leigh Brown at WOR during 1974-5.  They were traveling a lot in those days and needed someone to handle the show while they were away.   Part of Spector’s job was to work in Shepherd’s tiny WOR office space.  He remembers the heavy ten-inch tapes on metal reels of previous Shepherd shows stacked up there.  Spector kept a log of every show and they were documented extremely thoroughly with handwritten notes on the tape boxes, including an identifying title for each show on almost all of them.  (Because these original tapes seem to have been lost or are unobtainable, current program names are not those original ones, but are those made up years later by people who recorded the shows off the air or by those, such as Max Schmid, who later distributed the copies.)

Spector remembers that Jean was “rarely in the studio when the theme [music] started.  He usually was still in the control room and he’d usually say, ‘hit it.’  He would stay as long as he could in the control room because he was talking to the engineer, trying to engage him, trying to get something going, trying to get an idea—feedback—and sometimes the theme would be running out….And you could not say to Jean ‘Twenty seconds.  You’ve got to get in the studio.’  And that’s why, if you notice, there’s no consistency between where he starts his monolog over the theme.”

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I suggest a different cause for the differing times when Shepherd would begin or stop talking during his opening and closing theme.  Note that Shepherd was equally varied in when he ended his monolog—sometimes when the end theme began and sometimes during the final musical notes.  This variation was consistent with Shepherd’s easy-going style, and more than likely he played with this variation, this element of uncertainty, not because he was otherwise occupied, but that he allowed it to happen on purpose, just for the fun of it. When he began and ended his monolog during the theme probably related to Shep’s wanting the beginning and ending of his shows to be part of the uncertainty-factor in his show’s content. When he ended his talk during the end-theme, probably had to do, at times, with how much he felt he still had to say during that program.  *!

In discussing how unusual Shepherd’s style was in relation to the rest of WOR’s morning and afternoon chatting couples who appealed to an old-fashioned, conservative, coffee-klatch crowd, Spector suggests that when Shepherd made fun of little old lady listeners who might be critical and find his program objectionable, he was taking a swipe at the WOR’s audience for the rest of the talk-program schedule.

martha_deane_showdorothy and dick

“Martha Deane” was the entertainment name for several WOR

talkers who used it over the years. “Dorothy and Dick” was the

WOR couple Dorothy Kilgallen and Dick Kollmar, who talked:

‘Nough said.

*! “Anonymous” has this to add:

< I do remember him commenting that the theme was also a sort of game he played for his own amusement, that he knew there were listeners trying to record the whole theme . So he said that at some point he would always interrupt it just to drive the would be recorders crazy. I vaguely also remember him letting it go through completely at least once.> See comments for this post for the entire comment.

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2 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    At gunpoint I could not tell you where or when I heard him say it but I do remember him commenting that the theme was also a sort of game he played for his own amusement, that he knew there were listeners trying to record the whole theme . So he said that at some point he would always interrupt it just to drive the would be recorders crazy. I vaguely also remember him letting it go through completely at least once. Whether he was putting me on or not I cannot say. I just remember at times hearing him on the air making a snide comment to that effect right at the audience. Sometimes details pop back into my head that I thought were long gone and suddenly pow there they are. Been a rough year for all of us, the old saying about light at the end of the tunnel being an oncoming train may just be right. Seltzer Bottle gang.

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