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JEAN SHEPHERD–in the public domain

C. public domain

A major question in the world of Jean Shepherd’s radio broadcasts (in NYC 1955-4/1/1977 plus a couple of years before that in Cincinnati and Philadelphia) is whether they have a copyright–whether they are in the public domain.  If they are in the public domain, anyone can sell the audios without fear, and anyone can transcribe the audios (as I do) and publish them without fear of legal problems. Although people have been distributing Shep’s audios since before he died, the tricky and subtle issue had never been resolved beyond some peoples’ doubts as far as I know.

Library of Congress

“What Is Not Protected by Copyright? Several categories of material are generally not eligible for federal copyright protection. These include among others: • works that have not been fixed in a tangible form of expression (for example, choreographic works that have not been notated or recorded, or improvisational speeches or performances that have not been written or recorded)”

[I believe that what’s important here is “improvisational

speeches or performances”]

Here’s what the Stanford University Library website declares


Welcome to the Public Domain

The term “public domain” refers to creative materials that are not protected by intellectual property laws such as copyright, trademark, or patent laws. The public owns these works, not an individual author or artist. Anyone can use a public domain work without obtaining permission, but no one can ever own it. An important wrinkle to understand about public domain material is that, while each work belongs to the public, collections of public domain works may be protected by copyright. If, for example, someone has collected public domain images in a book or on a website, the collection as a whole may be protectible even though individual images are not. You are free to copy and use individual images but copying and distributing the complete collection may infringe what is known as the “collective works” copyright. Collections of public domain material will be protected if the person who created it has used creativity in the choices and organization of the public domain material. This usually involves some unique selection process, for example, a poetry scholar compiling a book — The Greatest Poems of e.e. cummings.

This would apply to those who sell audios of Shep’s radio programs (as does Max Schmid:, my extensive transcript excerpts in my EYF!,  and my own recent manuscripts consisting of my edited transcripts and commentaries on Shep’s Army stories, my transcripts of his travel narratives, and much more. Max good photo


Without these uses of Shepherd’s broadcasts, I’d fear that his main claim to creative immortality would be gone with the wind into the ether. (Shep is acknowledged four times at the beginning of A Christmas Story but almost nobody reads opening film titles.)

♦  ♦  

The above was preface.

Below is a condensed narrative regarding my current adventures.

For years I’ve been searching for the answer as to whether Shepherd’s improvised broadcasts are (and can be proven to be) in the public domain. All evidence–the U. S. Copyright website, the lack of legal action against their use, massive commercial sales of thousands of his radio audios (and many other old time radio audios)–all indicate that they are being sold without legal hassle and are thus probably in the public domain.

Publishers of my Shep’s Army wanted a definitive answer to prevent possible legal problems. Through the help of Nick Mantis (Creator of the documentary-in-progress on Shep’s life) I requested an answer from a copyright lawyer. I got a good but not 100% definitive response–so my publisher took part of my royalty rate to secure safety from possible lawsuit.

On the colophon page of Shep’s Army, it states:

“Published by arrangement with the Estate of Jean Shepherd, Irwin Zwilling, Executor.”

public domain artwork

A couple of years ago I completed another manuscript of Shep’s stories but my publisher has not responded to my questioning: ya gonna publish or not publish? To avoid the inevitable hassles of the entire  process from query letters to editorial and accounting conflicts, I’d nearly decided not to attempt more efforts to get my Jean Shepherd Kid Stories published.kid stories cover 1

Photo of kids courtesy of

Steve Glazer and Bill Ek.

I ‘d decided to simply publish them on this blog as I’ve done with Shep’s travel narratives.

(Exchanging publication-stress for pure blog-bliss.)

Allison, my wife, suggested that I give print publication one more try (I’d indicated to her that a book one can hold in one’s hand is what both Shep and I would have preferred.) As I have no agent (I tried and couldn’t get one years ago for my EYF!–ain’t that a drag? But then, remember how Leigh had to act as agent herself and hunt for a publisher for Jean’s The Ferrari in the Bedroom.).

I knew I’d have to deal with the public domain question again before I could get a contract for the kid stories, I emailed Irwin Zwilling, Shep’s friend/accountant, who was willed all his creative rights. Mr. Zwilling responded that he’d tried to resolve this issue for years and responded:

“Yes, it is our understanding that his radio shows are

public domain.”


Thus, the audios are available. And my editing of them and using them in my two so-far-unpublished books of transcripts–kid stories and travel narratives–are protected for me according to the Stanford U. description: “Collections of public domain material will be protected if the person who created it has used creativity in the choices and organization of the public domain material. This usually involves some unique selection process,…” (My editing for smoothness, continuity, and organization–retaining the feel of Shepherd talking–and especially in the kid stories, to form a “novel-like” whole.)

I await the next stage of the process.



JEAN SHEPHERD-Whiz-Bang Biography of Jean Parker Shepherd, Esq.

excelsior sign

What’s Shep all about, anyway?

Who knows?


All about?!?

I wish I knew.

Chapter 1    ??? Chicago South Side??? I’m a kid, see. Hammond, W. G. Harding.

Chapter 2     …Dorothy Anderson, Helen Weathers, Flick, Eileen Ackers, Patty Remaley, Ester Jane Albery, Randy Shepherd, et al…..

Chapter 3    !!! Steel-mill mail boy!!!

Chapter 4    !?!?→↑→↓ Crowder, Murphy. T/5  →↑→↓,!?!?

camp crowder postcard

Chapter 5    Cinci, Philly, married (Barbara Mattoon), divorced, married Joan Warner.


Chapter 6    NYC, Jazz, WOR, burgeoned, night folk, divorced.

i libertine jpeg i hope

Chapter 7    Libertine,  ↓ fired/rehired=Sweetheart, married Lois Nettleton↑.

jean and lois c.1962

Chapter 8    Playboy, IGWTAOPC, divorced.

Chapter 9   TV

Chapter 10  ACS (aka In God We Trust, etc.)

Chapter  11   Married ↑Leigh Brown. April Fool=1977: bye bye, WOR.

leigh,shep 1977

Chapter 12  Lady Finger Lake Road on Snow Pond Lake: Sanibel Island. 



    ↓Leigh died 1998. JPS died: RIP 1999↓.

Chapter 13  ↑Radio Hall of Fame, EYF!

Chapter 14   Seinfeld nails it↑.


Chapter 15  Pulitzer Prize, Nobel Prize, Oscar, Obie, etc., etc., etc., (Not altogether true.)

1981-_hammond_award 2nd annual

But why doesn’t Shep have far more important tributes–like Harvey Pekar, creator of the American Splendor graphic/autobiographical novels? Recently  a statue  was created in Pekar’s honor, installed in his favorite Cleveland library:

pekar desk at Cleveland library

Pekar stepping out of a “comic book page”

on a real library desk.

Oh, sure, Shep got a Community Center:


But, is Shep immortalized in a booblehead? Pekar is!

pekar bobblehead1


(not yet)

[Bobblehead is ridiculous, right?

But how many of us would like to see (and possess)

a Jean Shepherd bobblehead?

Damn near all of us fatheads, right?]

you fathead sign


JEAN SHEPHERD–Chart–Shep and 4 Women

Jean Shepherd’s personal life is not of prime interest to me. Yet his relationships with four women in his early days in New York City have some connection to the nature of his work, and much of this has been unknown to the vast majority of Shep enthusiasts. Some unexpected and interesting facts have come my way in my quest to learn as much as I can about his creative life.

As I began to seek new information about the important early years in the New York area, I began to realize that the interconnections in Shep’s life, regarding some important women, were becoming too involved for me to keep clear in my mind without a chart.



Many are aware of Joan Warner, to whom Shepherd was married before they came to the New York metropolitan area in 1955. According to those who knew Jean and Joan before they came to New York, they had a son, Randall.  At about the time they separated, their daughter Adrian was born. Although the Cincinnati newspaper clipping below has been circulating for some time now, many may not be aware of it. Note how Shep’s radio persona was being described in the paper even before his New York days. Joan refuses to be interviewed about Jean.


(Cincinnati, 1953-1954)



Soon after my Excelsior, You Fathead! was published in March of 2005, I received an email from Jeanne Keyes Youngson (of whom I was not aware), saying she had encountered my book and that she had been a “romantic interest” of Jean’s before he began dating Lois Nettleton. Jeanne told me she had participated in the I, Libertine hoax and the Wannamaker protest in 1956. At some time I will describe my meeting with her. I refer to her (not in any negative sense of the term) as “The Vampire Lady.”  The recent photo of her below is from her website.




Young actress Lois had listened to Shepherd during his overnight phase in 1956. I made contact with her after my Excelsior, You Fathead! was published. I’ve had much to tell about her and her relationship with Jean. She was a very important part of his early creative life in New York. See some of my previous posts.

miss chicago 1Lois Nettleton

Lois as Miss Chicago of 1948, and another early photo of her.

As attractive as she appears in these images, after she began work in Hollywood, she transformed into a strikingly attractive woman.

13.lois blue ...



Leigh Brown, it’s said, was introduced to Jean by their mutual friend, Shel Silverstein. Eventually she began working at WOR, became an important part of Jean’s career, and became his fourth wife. There is much more that I’ve had to say about Leigh–see some of my previous posts.


Leigh Brown (Nancy Prescott) in high school


There is more information to come about Jeanne, Lois, and Leigh regarding Jean’s creative life. Stay tuned for more posts down the road. Meanwhile here is my two-part chart (click to enlarge the parts):

                                 l.JS personal chart 1955 on 1

m.JS personal chart 1955 on 2


JEAN SHEPHERD–Syndicated Shep #3 of 3

My first two blog posts on the subject of Syndicated Shep (of over 200 recorded by him roughly in 1964-1965) describe the nature of this material, show the CD boxes, and give some of my descriptions of the 56 individual programs as featured in my program notes to the sets.

Not having given serious thought to the “Syndicated Shep” material since I’d done the program notes a few years back, I feared that I might have earlier over-praised it all. Nothing to fear. Having now completed my review and my condensing of versions of the individual program descriptions, I find myself delighted at the high quality that Shep maintained doing the first 56 recorded programs.

Here are parts of the program notes for the remainder

of the sets (4 boxes=28 recorded programs).

pomp and circumstance imagePOMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE Jean Shepherd again demonstrates his broad knowledge and unusual turn of mind in this series of programs. Even when he comes back to one of his familiar subjects and themes, his take on them each time makes them new for us.

CD 1 “Choosing Up” …in a tragedy in the world of children, the seemingly minor disappointment of not being chosen for a game or a team could be a major trauma and can make kids “…know something that they’ll never forget for the rest of their lives.”

CD 2 “No Rest for the Wicked” Demonstrating his predilection for combining several themes into one program, he then takes us through a discussion of the artificiality of most comedy and some acerbic comments on his home base, WOR, in casting itself as “the family station.”

CD 3 “Straws in the Wind” …before we know it, we find ourselves among the duped and guilty as he asserts that society has nudged us–businessmen, politicians, and all the rest of us, into artificial and destructive roles in the theater of our lives.

CD 4 “The Midwest Humor Tradition” This will captivate everyone fascinated by the style of Jean Shepherd and the mind behind the style….he expresses with his own humor, insight, enthusiasm, and the bravado of his over-the-top renditions.

CD 5 “Ribbon Velocity” …part of this program deals with the arcane matter regarding the technical details of a well-constructed studio…stick with the program, because shepherd is not only going to teach you something worth know, but he’s going to give you a social critique as well as entertain you.

CD 6 “Slob Art” Shepherd seems to be able to fit many of his gripes against those aspects of humanity he doesn’t like into the category of slob art. In this program’s screed, he comments that he accepts honest slob art, although he comments on “the unbelievably primitive humor” of such manifestations of as the whoopy cushion.

CD 7 “Western Spectacular” …The preceding is a buildup to his extended riff on some basic movie cliche themes, decade by decade, from the 1930s onward. For this he has assembled the appropriate movie-type music as accompaniment….He produces here a delightfully enjoyable extravaganza, full of musical and narrative bombast.

CD 8 “Pomp and Circumstance” “Have you ever had the vague feeling, friend, that your life is almost totally ridiculous? That there is no dignity at all?” What a way to begin a program titled “Pomp and Circumstance.” Sometimes Shepherd likes to start out with an unexpected comment that shakes things up. We know that it will tie into his eventual theme.

ticket to rid imageTICKET TO RIDE Shepherd loved to travel. Shepherd loved to be in different places and see/do different things. Playboy sent him to the British Isles for a week. He brought his tape recorder.  He did not expect to be exposed to current culture fads there and have to escape from rabid young girls:

CD 1 “Secret Mission Edinburgh” In the first of four syndicated recordings made during his October 1964 trip to the British Isles, taped in his hotel room in Edinburgh, Scotland, he sets the scene in his own, special way. He practices his Scottish accent and he plays a bit of Scottish music….

CD 2 “Highlands” He describes more of Edinburgh, including its look, sounds, smells, and the friendliness of the people.

CD 3 “Back in London” England is just the place to see the new, outrageous trends clashing with tradition, and these trends are becoming the most visible of their exports to the United States–rock and roll is on the rise–the “British Invasion” is about to begin!

CD 4 “London Wrap Up” All this ferment gives him the opportunity to describe and decry pop culture in  general and rock and roll in particular….he can at last reveal his secret: he’s traveling with and living with The Beatles….he goes to considerable length to speak of the rare and wonderful reportorial opportunity he’s been given. As he puts it, “I wasn’t really traveling as an observer–they began to accept me as part of the gang.” The way he describes the scenes of scrambling away from adoring fans along with John, Paul, George, and Ringo–running in the streets and climbing down fire escapes–you can picture him as a fifth Beatle in their film, A Hard Day’s Nightbeatles fire escape

Paul, John, Ringo, and George

escaping down a fire escape in

A Hard Day’s Night.

(I’m still seeking a photo of Shep with the Fab Four.)

the fatal flaw imageTHE FATAL FLAW

CD 1 “Terraplane” He delights in describing how in the steel mill (where he worked for two summers as a teenager) workers talked to their giant machines and the machines talked back. We can hear their dialog through his extraordinary ability to create sound effects with his voice with seeming accuracy and comic effect that make you laugh out loud. He is setting us up for the rest of this program, which focuses on the sounds and other characteristics of a very special automobile….With this mastery of sound, Shepherd produces one of the funniest programs known to Shepaholics!

CD 2 “Supermen” Shepherd talks about what he sees as the three major forms pf being a “superman” in order to lead up to one of his favorite themes: the pervasive rise of the ego on our world.

CD 3 “Comic Strip Studies” What we hadn’t heard until we listened to this program is his declaration that “I am a student of the comic strips the way other guys are students of Greek myths.”….Shepherd says, summing it all up, “our great myths forever and ever, enshrined in four colors.”

CD 4 “The End of the World”  He comments that, as for the end of the world, “I suspect that we would all like to see it happen,” because that way we’d know how it ends, and we wouldn’t be missing anything. Shep, whether you’re discussing small matters of the end of the world, we can depend on you to be entertaining–and realistic.

CD 5 “Life Imitates” From time to time Shepherd discussed the unreality of theater and film, and here he examines what he finds to be an important question: “Does show biz imitate nature, or does nature imitate show biz?”

CD 6 “Hunger for Balderdash” Here’s a Jean Shepherd excursion into philosophy and the ridiculous…accompanied by intermittent, very loud snippets from a recording of the in-your-ear, bombastic, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto #1. In a university philosophy course he and fellow students find that each  philosophical belief they study regarding “ethics” is, in turn, equally seductive…A frustrated student beseeches the professor, “…Tell us, which one is right?” The professor looks down, smiles, and says, “Well, you see, that’s the trouble.” With this profound answer hanging in the air, up swells more thrilling bombast–more of that thoroughly enjoyable and overwrought Piano Concerto #1….a piece of music we intellectually question, but the power of which we thrill to just the same….

CD 7 “Appetite for Self Delusion” “Do we really believe there s such a thing as equality, and do we want it?” We believe that “all men are created equal,” yet “we have an insatiable desire to create our own gods that must be better than we are.” Shepherd enjoys showing us the unpleasant fact that sometimes our ideas don’t conform to our emotional responses.

CD 8 The Fatal Flaw” What makes the tales of tin, benzene, and gas down the gullet so entertaining are not the bare outlines of the stories, nor even the exact words of Shepherd’s verbal concoctions, but his style, his details, his tone of voice, and, especially in this program, his melodramatic vocal sound effects. The accelerating engine roar ending in a car’s histrionic death rattle, and then Shep-the-siphoner’s howls, yowls, roars, yawps, screams, screeches, shrieks, and near-fatal retching. Shep the master has stuck again!

wonders imageWONDERS Here is another wonderful mix of Jean Shepherd’s musings, as recorded for Hartwest Productions syndicated radio programs in the mid-1960’s. As always, the scope is broad and quirky. Surprising and delightful mix of silliness and sagacity that keeps Shepherd’s fans coming back for more.

CD 1 “Jackdaw” …Shepherd uses this bird’s habit of accumulating seemingly useless objects as a metaphor for the human propensity to buy unnecessary stuff.

CD 2 “Dillinger” Shepherd is familiar with the general attitude toward the man because he grew up in northwestern Indiana–where Dillinger lived and robbed banks. Shepherd’s mother, a mild-mannered housewife, commented that she’d always dreamed of being a gun moll.

CD 3 “Singing and Song” He tells listeners not to send him letters “about how I should take vocal lessons. That ain’t what I’m here for.”….Shepherd fans enjoy what some would describe as bad singing. Fans know that he is a jazz master of silly song renditions, mixing scatting and over-the-top mock-seriousness at every opportunity.

CD 4 “Things Used to be Better”     CD 5 “The Mountain King”

CD 6 “History is All Around Us”     CD 7 “Transported in Time”    CD 8 “Wonders”

WONDERS became the last of the RadioSpirits syndicated boxed sets of Shepherd programs, and, as it had an unusually fast turn-around time for production, I was asked to only describe a couple of programs and add a short chronology of Shepherd’s life and work for the program notes. That chronological information is widely available  in various forms, so I’ll just do a  very short chronology-short-form:

Jean Shepherd, humorist, born in 1921,

was the master of improvised talk radio,

did lots of other good stuff, died in 1999,

and his art still survives in the ears, brains, and hearts of all who experience it.

(More of these syndicated recording are now being released.)


JEAN SHEPHERD–Syndicated Shep #2 of 3

The nine previously released sets of Shepherd syndicated shows lost, then found, with 56 released, have short titles. After the first couple, in which I used the space to introduce and give a bit of background, I began describing the individual programs with a bit of commentary. I think some of the  descriptions/comments might be useful to give a sense of the kinds of shows Shep recorded, for the historical record, and thus also to help Shepherd enthusiasts determine what syndicated material, older and newer, they would most enjoy.

dont be a leaf image 2DON’T BE A LEAF
This set of four programs provides the opportunity to describe Shepherd with a short excerpt from my Excelsior, You Fathead! As an introduction to Shep, I quote him:

And ultimately you find it difficult to explain what I do.  I think that anyone who talks about life is not easily tagged. A man who tells one-line jokes–he;s a comic. A man who sings songs–he’s a singer.

 But a person who deals with life may do all of those….You’ve got to do it with silence, you have to do it with beat and tempo, and rhythm. And it’s tremendously exciting.

CD 1 “Hero of the Great Drama of Life.”     CD 2 “Southside Chicago Baseball.”

CD 3 “The Master Plan Illusion.    CD 4 “Don’t be  Leaf.”

x random factor imageTHE X-RANDOM FACTOR This set of eight programs begins with another excerpt from Excelsior, You Fathead!  The program notes comment that when Shepherd recorded a WOR show for later broadcast, he “insisted that he worked exactly the same as in his live broadcasts, so that his extemporaneous style was no different.” Thus, the syndicated programs can be seen as virtually the same also. I note that “You’ll hear that his ‘Bahn Frei’ theme music on these Hartwest programs does not have the mysterious Shepherd ‘Ahhhh’ at the very end that was a fixture of his shows for over a dozen years….” [Readers of this blog may remember that in an early post I described what seems to be the definitive answer as to what the “Ahhhh” was.]

CD 1 “Yanked into the World.”     CD 2 “Receptacles of Uncharted Passions.”

CD 3 “Commitment to Adulthood.”    CD 4 “The Grandstand syndrome.”

CD 5 “What Man Is.”    CD 6 “Living in Circleville.”

CD 7 “”Gradually Being Phased Out.”    CD 8 “The X Random Factor.”

security blankets imageSECURITY BLANKETS  After the quote from EYF! I comment a bit about each of these programs:

CD 1 “The Best Job in the World”  It is gratifying to hear Shepherd tell how much fun he has sitting happily at his microphone in the program ‘The Best Job in the World.’ A few minutes later he burst into a joyous little riff on his kazoo. He may complain from time to time over the years, but these syndicated shows are additional evidence of the great enjoyment Shepherd had in his work….

CD 2  “Scut” “…he takes pleasure in remembering his quick-change artistry in a theatrical ‘review’ years before. He amusingly describes himself shedding costumes, going from ‘Adam,’ to a four-star general, to George Washington as a boy. Shepherd was an expert quick-change artist in all parts of his life–humorous, serious, witty, clever, silly. In many programs, from moment to moment, he could be all of these and more.”

CD 3 “Foretelling the Future”  Shepherd philosophically–and oh so humorously–refutes the widely held beliefs that life and commercial products are always improving and predictable. He has fun denying the idea of progress.

CD 4 “Security Blankets” …Shepherd commenting on some people who just can’t throw anything out, and he has his own little stash of old ballpoint pens that don’t work. He expands the idea further by commenting that, of course, these blankets can take many form and can inhibit our lives in significant ways….”Can you imagine–can you imagine all the things you’ve missed in your life, friend?”….That is serious stuff, friend, and it has just been served to you as a humorous Shepherd chefs-d’oeuvre.

life is imageLIFE IS From EYF!: I knew Jean Parker Shepherd. I like to think I still do. We had these deep conversations throughout the entire time I festered as a youth on the east side of New York City. Actually I didn’t fester, but only sometimes thought I did because ‘ol Shep used to claim that he festered as a kid….Jean Shepherd is a gadfly and humorist for all ages. To quote a listener, “He makes us think about stuff.”

CD 1 “Captain Billy’s Whiz-Bang” …he comments that official ideas about an era are not as true as are some popular thoughts and trivia.

CD 2 “Fate” Those familiar with his published short story, ‘Return of the Smiling Wimpy Doll,’ probably written a bit after he recorded this syndicated show, will recognize his comments about his mother sending him (when he is grown and living in Manhattan), a box of his childhood toys… .

CD 3 “Public Relations” …he decries the phoniness of PR activities, he takes the quite jovial, yet seriously ironic opportunity to precede a commercial break with, ‘Let’s let our own little men there, this little PR crowd, put you straight on just how you can straighten up your miserable rotten, lousy, adlib life.’

CD 4 “Defeated Ex-Kids” Shepherd discusses the 1960s fashion in which chic clothes seem to reverse conventional gender styles. Role reversal, indeed, is a favorite theme of Shepherd’s [during a particular period in the 1960s.]

CD 5 “Playing the Tuba.” He tells how in eighth grade he began practicing the tuba for his high school orchestra and that from the beginning he was obsessed: “I was a dedicated tuba man.”

CD 6 “Automotive Age”  …a good example of Shepherd reveling in another of his enthusiasm, this time, cars, from his sighting of a chauffer-driven Ferrari to his “old man’s” love of Oldsmobiles….

CD 7 “Home” Shepherd loves to observe the distinct particularity of even the simplest everyday things. One’s current environment becomes home for all its aspects, good and not-so-good.

CD 8 “Life is” 

kicks imageKICKS 

CD 1 “Thirst for Holiness” …he quotes a professor as saying that people drink out of a hunger for holiness. Naturally Shepherd, who thinks more about words and their meanings than most of us, changes that more appropriately to a thirst for holiness.

CD 2 “Scientific Plots” He declares that we, and even he, are all victims of ‘myths.’ He’d like some big scientific lab to develop a ‘myth detector.’ And one of Shepherd’s favorite myths to detect and destroy is the one most of us believe–that humanity is forever on an upward road of ‘progress.’

CD 3 “Og and Charlie” He wants us to recognize our kinship with Og and other savages: ‘We’re all in it together, there’s no question about it, the same primal urge exists.’ [And here, he’s connecting primitive music with our own “civilized” types.]

CD 4 “Kicks” “…a salute to man’s eternal search for kicks,” which Shepherd defines as superficial enthusiasms and pursuits. Often over the years he has made a point of complaining about our material world, and here he launches his diatribe against twentieth century kicks with a suggestion that man’s special mania, consumerism, is a prime cause of far more disturbing aberrations.


Other half of the first nine sets described anon



JEAN SHEPHERD–Syndicated Shep #1 of 3

Jean Shepherd’s over two hundred audios in broadcast form done in 1964-5 and almost never broadcast, began to appear through several years ago. (The story is that the stash of them was lost or forgotten somewhere in storage.) I was asked to write program notes for each set of four or eight discs (one program’s audio per disc) with full payment to me consisting of notice of my first book on the outside cover of the box, and, within the notes, a photo of the book cover and a note along with the program notes regarding the book. The last couple of the nine sets, I was also given a small honorarium ($). I much enjoyed doing this—especially as I got to hear the audios before almost anybody else.

 syndicated 1.2

syndicated 3. 4

syndicated 5. 6.

syndicated 7. 8.

syndicated 9. back of 6. On the bottom right, the typical back of a box shows

that of  “Kicks” w/bongos.

The  “Ticket to Ride” box with red London

double-decker bus features

Shepherd discussing his trip traveling with The Beatles touring the UK, 1964.

The company now continuing this project of releasing audios of these Shep recordings is found at They distribute a great variety of material—the Shep stuff is found by clicking on “Jean Shepherd Radio” in the left column of their home page. Note that their current format for the discs is different from those earlier ones–the CDs are made and sold individually by and include no program notes. I think this is a shame, whether I would have done the program notes or not–a lack of much context for the individual shows for sale beyond a title would seem to limit one’s ability to decide which shows to purchase. You’ll just have to buy them all!

I was asked to write something for their website’s Shepherd page and they posted the following:


Radio Spirits hired noted Shepherd biographer Eugene Bergmann to write the liner notes for its releases.  We are grateful for his past expertise, and asked him to contribute information about himself to this web page.  His response:

I listened to those 56 shows for pleasure and to be able to comment on them for the program notes, so I was not only highly entertained, but I focused on what ways they might have been the same and might have been different from the many show with which I was already familiar. They are virtually identical in style and in their reflections of Shepherd’s unique sensibility. To my ear, the only differences are that, noting the smoothness of the delivery, he may have given a bit more planning to his trademark improvisational style, and he seemed to have included more of the short musical clips with which he sometimes adorned his monologs. Questing after more and more of Shepherd’s art, only in one’s dreams could one hope to encounter so many newly discovered, fine works by the master. Those 56 shows presage scores more wonderful Shepherd-experiences as enthusiasts and newcomers alike are presented with the equivalent of newly risen galleons full of previously unknown sunken treasures.”

Eugene B. Bergmann is the author of the only book dedicated to Jean Shepherd’s work, “EXCELSIOR, YOU FATHEAD!  THE ART AND ENIGMA OF JEAN SHEPHERD. His second Shepherd book, “SHEP’S ARMY — BUMMERS, BLISTERS, AND BOONDOGGLES,” contains nearly three dozen of Shepherd’s army tales from his WOR broadcasts, which were transcribed, edited and introduced by Bergmann.  Both books are available from; the links are below.


Initially, it should be noted that part of Shepherd’s genius was that he was unscripted — he took his starting point from something that interested him currently, and then meandered off from there.  We have to create names for his oral wanderings, so that you can get at least some idea of what they are about, but we’re not going to go into much detail; for true Shepherd fans, each of his broadcasts was an original journey, unlike any other that came before or after.  The joy is in having him guide you on that journey, not in having specific signposts to along the way…. These are what we choose to tell you about them:

JEAN SHEPHERD RADIO SHOW Volume 1 The American Way of Life
JEAN SHEPHERD RADIO SHOW Volume 2 At the Sound of the Bell — how we react to certain sounds and words, and the vast differences between generations (and between grandparents and grandchildren in particular)
JEAN SHEPHERD RADIO SHOW Volume 4 How to cook on the cheap.
JEAN SHEPHERD RADIO SHOW Volume 5 The Motherland (Great Britain, in case you forgot)
JEAN SHEPHERD RADIO SHOW Volume 6 Mankind, Part 1
JEAN SHEPHERD RADIO SHOW Volume 7 Mankind, Part 2
JEAN SHEPHERD RADIO SHOW Volume 8 The Singing Shepherd
JEAN SHEPHERD RADIO SHOW Volume 9 Impulses and Pie — the rarely-considered human impulses which make throwing a pie
in somebody’s face such a staple of movie and other comedy
JEAN SHEPHERD RADIO SHOW Volume 12 The Dictionary

…….. [The above are one CD per volume]……..

At the bottom of the Shepherd page one finds the pictorial link to buy each of the original nine sets from as published by RadioSpirits. Difficult to avoid noting is that the eight-CD set titled “The Fatal Flaw” is offered for $3,698.01. (Of course prices change based on current sellers. Prices offered on on 1/29/14 are, FATAL FLAW for $2,500; KICKS for $951.70; POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE for $247.95, and other sets for lesser amounts). I can think of several possible reasons for this: 1. Scarcity; 2. Extraordinary quality of Shep’s delivery of these audios; 3. Extraordinary quality of my program notes; 4. Typos.

Also of interest is that the 4-CD set titled “Kicks,” with a two-piece bongo set on the cover is not listed for sale at all! Out of stock? Out of print? I sit here looking at my extra set of each of these and wonder why they have attained such special status. Oh me, oh my! What I can do is reproduce the centerfold of the “Kicks” program notes. The centerfold does not contain an airbrushed color photo of a naked young woman*; as one can see, it contains a lovely black and white shot of the cover of my first book surrounded by about half of my written comments:

syndicated kicks centerfoldAirbrushed centerfold of the single sheet (4-page, 4-CD)

liner notes of “Kicks.”

Liner notes of the 8-CD sets contain

8 pages, including illustrations.

Although I have no financial stake in the sales of the old or these new CDs of Shep syndicated material, of course I hope they sell well–enough for all of them (over 200 shows!) to be continued to be produced and distributed, and thus be part of the ongoing historical record of Jean Shepherd’s radio work.

*In the interests of full disclosure, I must admit that the area of Shep’s shirt under his upraised hand was indeed airbrushed–to eliminate what had seemed to be one of the headphone wires, but which was a scratch mark that was obviously on the negative.



The Fred W. McDarrah iconic photo of Jean Shepherd represents the way I–and probably  most Shepherd enthusiasts–imagine him to be. Despite all the varied photos of Shep over the years, it’s the one as I always imagine him–the once and future Shep. It’s why that photo adorns the cover of my Excelsior, You Fathead!

classic shep imagePhoto by McDarrah, un-posed (he told me), but cropped here,

taken while Shep was broadcasting 11/30/1966.

It would be interesting to hear the broadcast

of that date, but I’m not aware of an audio.

The Sunday New York Times of January 26, 2014 has  most of a page devoted to a feature, “Album,” with photos by McDarrah. The occasion is an exhibit of 130 images at the Steven Kasher Gallery in Chelsea from 1/30 to 3/8/2014. The short text by John Leland, accompanying the captioned images, says in part:

If we had known that the scrawny guy at that Greenwich Village folk club might some day amount to something, we’d have all been there, cameras in hand, to document the event. But we didn’t so we weren’t. Fred W. McDarrah, on the other hand, made it a point to be there. When Bob Dylan first performed in New York; when Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg held court at house parties in Greenwich Village, or Andy Warhol at his studio, the Factory; when hippies or the gay liberation movement found their voices; when downtown New York was the incubator for the cultural movements that shook the world. Mr. McDarrah, who died in 2007, was the first photo editor and for decades the only staff photographer of The Village Voice. He had a front-row seat for multiple revolutions….

Probably not known to most, but of significant importance for the historical record of Jean Shepherd, McDarrah took the finest image of Shepherd (at work on the radio, no less!)  Also of interest is the photo he took of Shepherd on his opening night broadcasting from the Limelight, February 15, 1964. When I saw this image (inexplicably for the first time) being sent back from my publisher to McDarrah with me as the intermediary, I immediately called McDarrah and offered a hundred dollars for the right to use it in my book. He accepted–here it is:mcd. limelight.2

Of possible interest to some, other than the cover image, all images within a book are paid for by the book’s author. Which is one reason why a couple of photos I’d have liked to include did not make it–because of the multiple-hundreds required by the photo-rights owners. (My publisher had told me that one shouldn’t have to pay more than $50 per image.) The multiple image of Shep from Playboy almost didn’t make it–the four-page contract for its use prescribed a fee of hundreds of dollars. I responded that it was a shame that I couldn’t afford it–Playboy was such an important part of Shepherd’s writing career and Playboy might indeed, reap benefit by readers encountering the credit line for it in the book. The response I got was that, if money was the only problem, I could use the image for free. Yes, money had been the only problem. I found that although the multi-portrait of Shep  had originally included five portraits melded together (See image in my book), the photo as published in Playboy cropped the far right images out.

Many provided images for the book for free, and I credited them in the book’s acknowledgements. But several organizations denied use for any amount and several wanted hundreds. (See in my acknowledgements, for them, my group-disacknowledgement.) I’d have liked to have used the smiling-Shep image in front of a CBS microphone, but not for their outrageous fee–especially as I find it absurd that one encounters that image’s use in numerous locations on the internet (I wonder if all the users paid or have been sued), with its ignorantly implied suggestion that CBS was Shep’s home base. I’d have liked to have used it as it’s such a good shot of him, and my caption would have explained that in his broadcast career, CBS was such an extremely minor, side issue.

cbs photosDo not even peek at these images!

(CBS photos: Not by Fred W. McDarrah)

Besides, “CBS was such an extremely minor, side issue.”


A few years ago I bid for and won on ebay, a good photo print of Shep by McDarrah dated November 30, 1966 but, as his heirs might object. I won’t reproduce it here.

Below is a scan of the signature on the back of that print:mcdarrah signature______________________


I’m pleased to receive this email from McDarrah’s son, Timothy:

”Loved this. As part of the Kasher show, there is a

display case of books that had my dad’s photos on the cover.

Your Shepherd opus is front and center.”



JEAN SHEPHERD Chart career revise part 4

I’ve encountered that the 4th of the 5 parts of the NYC career chart does not enlarge when clicked on and is not sharp (at least on  my computer), so it cannot be read. I’d done it exactly the same as the other parts! Here I re-do the whole operation–scan, import to blog media, and input it into this post. I trust it works now for those who want to read and maybe copy it:

career part 4 redo

Part 4 revise


And why not add the details of where the story parts of A CHRISTMAS STORY and Shepherd’s three long-form TV dramas originated (Most of the following info is derived from Jim Clavin’s —



Story Lines:

The Red Ryder BB Gun–  “Red Ryder Nails the Hammond Kid,” Playboy, 12/1965, then in IN GOD WE TRUST 1966 titled “Duel in the Snow or Red Ryder Nails the Cleveland Street Kid.”

Wax Teeth, Flick’s Tongue, Writing A Theme

The Leg Lamp– “My Old Man and the Lascivious Special Award that Heralded the Birth of Pop Art,” in IN GOD WE TRUST 1966. (See PHANTOM OF THE OPEN HEARTH below.)

“How Does the Little Piggy Eat?” —   in “Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss” Playboy July 1968.

Little Orphan Annie Secret Circle Decoder–“The Counterfeit Secret Circle Member Gets the Message, or The Asp Strikes Again,” in IN GOD WE TRUST 1966.

Changing the Flat Tire – “Oh Fuuudddggge”

Blinded by Soap–“Lost at ‘C’ ” Playboy May 1973

Visiting Santa, The Bunny Pajamas,

The Bumpus Hounds–“The Grand Stand Passion Play of Delbert and the Bumpus Hounds,” Playboy 4/69, then in WANDA HICKEY’S NIGHT OF GOLDEN MEMORIES–AND OTHER DISASTERS 1971.

Christmas Dinner Chinese Style



(1976 television long-form drama)

Story Lines:

Gravy Boat Riot–“Leopold Doppler and the Orpheum Gravy Boat Riot,” Playboy  10/65 then in IN GOD WE TRUST 1966.

Sears Pre-fab House

The Leg Lamp– “My Old Man and the Lascivious Special Award that Heralded the Birth of Pop Art,” in IN GOD WE TRUST 1966. (Major component of A CHRISTMAS STORY)

Going to the Prom With Wanda Hickey–“Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories”  Playboy 6/69 then in WANDA HICKEY’S NIGHT OF GOLDEN MEMORIES–AND OTHER DISASTERS 1971.

Baseball for the United Brethern



(1982 television long-form drama)

Story lines:

Sears Radio

Wilbur Duckworth and His Magic Baton–Playboy 12/64“Waldo Grebb and His Electric Baton”  and as “Wilber Duckworth and His Magic Baton” in IN GOD WE TRUST 1966.

The Blind Date–“The Endless Streetcar Ride into the Night, and the Tinfoil Noose” IN GOD WE TRUST 1966.


The Wash Rag Pyramid Scheme

Uncle Carl’s Fireworks Stand

The Old Man’s Fireworks Display

Ludlow Kissel and the Dago Bomb IN GOD WE TRUST 1966.

Fireworks on the roof of Roosevelt High

Sack races at the picnic




Story lines:

Going to a Polish Wedding–“The Star-crossed Romance of Josephine Cosnowski and Her Friendly Neighborhood Sex Maniac” Playboy 1970 and titled “The Star-crossed Romance of Josephine Cosnowski” in WANDA HICKEY’S NIGHT OF GOLDEN MEMORIES 1971.

Friendly Fred’s used car lot

Randy plays a turkey in the school Thanksgiving Day play

The boys eat at John’s hamburger joint

Scragging for Polish girls*

[*At least one story that never made it into  a published Shepherd story he told on the air: On March 23, 1968 he told a tale of Scragging and Bolus’ wedding.]  Scragging is what some male teenagers do in a car in summer–they drive by one or more attractive young girls and make adolescent remarks such as “Hey baby! Oh Wow! Holy Smokes!”]


Please report errors and omissions, including exact references if known. –eb

JEAN SHEPHERD–Chart–his career beginning in NYC

Jean Shepherd’s artistic career is far more elaborate and varied than most of us ever imagined. When I began working on my Excelsior, You Fathead! The Art and Enigma of Jean Shepherd in early 2000, I felt that, in order to comprehend the complexities, I had to visualize it all chronologically. This way I could more easily see how parts related to the whole.  The long, horizontal chart I produced and printed out on several 11″ X 17″ paper sheets, was done in 2002, and served to assist me in “seeing” his career more clearly. In my personal reference copy of the published book, I have a small, taped-together, folded version glued to the inside back cover.

I had wanted this, plus a CD–a representative sampling of Shep’s radio bits–to be included in the book, but I was informed by the publisher that the cover price would have been raised too high.

CHART–Here it is in 5 parts to be visualized as a continuity.

JS career chart 1JS career chart 2

JS career chart 3career part 4 redo

JS career chart 5These five images need to be visualized one after the other and butted against each other. The above is what I could do in the post. Remember that each can be enlarged by clicking on it one or even more than one time. In preview form, before being posted, they enlarged sufficiently for me to be able to read them.

Despite this having been designed and printed over a decade ago, nothing major, and only some minor additions would have been required to update it. (Some additional work in jazz is now known, and other information and material continue to appear.)

One of the aspects of Shepherd’s career that the chart confirmed

for me is that much of his original creative work

occurred in the earlier NYC years,

and that much of his later work

on television and in film consisted of

his re-working and re-creating his earlier material.

The major exceptions to this are his WOR radio broadcasting,

that continued until April, 1977, and the

two-part television series of


(made in 1971 and 1985)

which I consider to be

a major, incomplete,

Great American 




JEAN SHEPHERD–Charts–my first book about him

Here’s what I’m going to do intermittently for some opening

posts of the new year.

It’s a series charts I created a number of years ago

and also my thoughts about Shep’s work in 

refutation of a couple of essays by others.

It’s sort of an interrelated gallimaufry. 

Starting now:

Regarding my EXCELSIOR, YOU FATHEAD! THE ART AND ENIGMA OF JEAN SHEPHERD,  on occasion I encounter a comment that indicates that the person is not sure how I organized it. Some might think it’s disorganized.

Others find the methods and organization I used in the book to be appropriate to the subject–I’d like to think they’re right, especially the reviewer who commented that the book seems inspired by Shepherd’s style itself (it was not consciously). The book does have a specific organization from beginning to end, and to clue the reader in, the last paragraph of each chapter indicates how the next chapter is a logical continuation of the theme. I also explain in the book that there is a very loose chronology of the PARTS (The formative years from childhood through early radio years; followed by what I call “The Great Burgeoning” in New York; followed at the end by the finale–a back-and-forth summing up of life and art). Interspersed between some of the chronology are THEMATIC CHAPTERS that describe and reflect on Shep’s various creative endeavors as these seem to emerge from the rough chronology.

While working this out, I made a chart to help show myself (and then interested others) how all this goes together.  The chart was done in a rather large format for ease of viewing–one that could not be scanned or imported into this blog in one piece, so here it is in two pieces. The originals of all my charts were only meant to be printed out on paper–not miniaturized into a blog and viewed on a screen. Remember that one can click on images in the post to significantly enlarge them for ease of reading (I hope!).

I’ve put together a number of charts over the years to help me get a better sense of Shepherd’s life and work. I’ll be posting them one at a time over the next month or so.

                 EYF chart of chapters 1

 chart EYF! redo rt half

Either through my ignorance or the inbuilt limitations of this blog program, I can’t control some visual aspects. So one has to see in one’s mind, the single, continuous artwork broken here into the two-part chart above. Obviously the relative scale of the two is slightly different as it was imported here, and can’t be reconciled. It’s impossible for me to position images just where I want them–the program just resists my attempts at subtle adjustments. In fact, as I draft the post, the two halves show side by side, not one over the other. The title with Shep’s name, obviously should continue on the same level.

The various charts I’ve made, first for my eyes alone and my pleasure, then available to help explain some material to others, were all done about a decade ago in the Adobe Illustrator program and printed out on a large-format Epson 11″ x 17″ -capable-printer. As I no longer have the printer, I rely on old print-outs to scan and awkwardly import them here.

Creating the charts and somehow managing to post them–

all other parts of my enjoyment of working on Shep projects.



I just opened this post as though I were an average viewer and found that although the first half of the chart, when clicked opens larger (It has a blue outline when cursor is over it), the second part does not–I don’t know why this might be–damn computers!  To enlarge, copy this part and paste into a word processing document–one can then enlarge that. Very annoying having to attempt to outwit an electronic servant!  –eb