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June 25th, 2005

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10:36 am - and now a little obsessive radio geeking
Everybody collects something.

I collect Jean Shepherd radio shows.
60-04-09  Coney Island WOR
60-06-25b Ant Hills, Marathon Dancing, Dolphins
60-07-30  Triangular Donuts (2-hour Limelight show)
60-09-03a Moment of Lucidity 1
60-09-03b Moment of Lucidity 2
60-10-01  The Fearless Orthodontist
61-01-15  Untitled
61-02-27  One Of Them Beats
61-03-01  Civil War Centennial Pitch
61-04-18  Gothic Remnants in New York  (partial)
61-09-05  A Box to Hide In
62-02-08  Flying over the John Glenn Parade
62-04-23  The Job in the Piano Factory
63-05-17  Astronaut Gordon Cooper
63-05-31  Lithuanian Compost Heap
63-05-xx  The Woolworth Crowd and the 25 Cent Grab Bag
63-07-02  Being a Peeping Tom
63-07-04  The Old Man's Fireworks Stand
63-07-xx  What People Do at Business Lunches
63-08-05  Watchers vs Doers
63-08-19  The Old Man as a Pool Shark
63-08-29  March on Washington
63-11-25  Kennedy Assassination
63-11-28  Shadows and Haiku
63-11-xx  Mice, Basements and the Furnace
63-11-xx  Untitled
64-01-16  The Great Indiana Blizzard
64-01-xx  Shep's Name
64-02-26  Bobby the Operator
64-06-17  Back from Maine Vacation
64-06-22  Big Band Remote - The Theremin
64-06-23  Summer Madness Hits The World's Fair
64-07-04  Patriotism and Fireworks Stories
64-07-04b Little Old Lady Shot and Life's Subtleties
64-07-11  Conventions, Red Garter Dixieland Band
64-08-13  Filling In on Morning Show
64-08-18  Mothers as Monsters
64-09-15  World's Fair
64-09-18  More From The Fair
64-11-16  Exciting Night on Channel Whoopie
64-12-21  Show Biz Continues to Creep In
64-12-24  Christmas Cards Reflects The Times
64-xx-xx  Casey At The Bat
64-xx-xx  Shep's First Martini
65-01-04  Broken New Year's Resolutions
65-01-06  Why I'm Such a Sorehead
65-01-22  Shepherd Marches On
65-01-28  Company K - Captain Cherry Bugs Out
65-01-xx  Camp and Pop Art
65-03-02  Worst Job in the Steel Mill
65-03-23  NAB Convention, Biting the Hand
65-03-26  More NAB, Bunny Slippers
65-03-30  Simpleism or Ignorance Is Bliss
65-03-31  Playboy - NY vs Chicago
65-04-06  Tourists
65-04-08  Love at the USO
65-04-09  Upstaged
65-04-14  The Return of Roswell T Edwards
65-04-13a Code School
65-04-13b Fred Allen
65-04-15  Infinite Radio Signals
65-04-16  The British Empire - News Readers
65-04-21  Salute to Trouble
65-05-08  Mother's Day - The Concrete Mexican (Limelight show)
65-06-03  Gemini Launch - I'm Flying
65-06-04  Playing Baseball for United Brethren
65-06-05  Hammond High Graduation
65-06-10  Shep For Mayor - Aunt Min's Surprise
65-07-13  Psychic Brochure - Shep on Paar Show
65-07-14  Martian Chronicles
65-08-11  Listener Letters
65-08-12  Full Moon - Nut Call Night
65-08-19  Food-Shaped Stands
65-08-25  Vietnam - Responsibility or Inconvenience
65-09-06  Labor Day Show
65-09-07  Leaving for Peru
65-09-16  Back from the Amazon
65-09-17  Amazon Duets
65-09-18a Headhunters of the Amazon 1
65-09-18b Headhunters of the Amazon 2
65-10-05  Soothing Sounds for Baby
65-11-02  American Dream Sales Pitch
65-11-08  Success Through Spells
65-11-12  Great Train of Memory
65-11-16  Go Nadja Go
65-11-18  Nose Flute, Bad Book, Radio Parts
65-12-17  The Cremation of Sam McGee
65-12-22  Uncle Carl's Christmas Surprise
65-12-31  Turn of the Last Century
66-01-06  The Spell of the Yukon - The Antarctic
66-01-14  Guinness Records and the Obscene Bathmat
66-01-18  Winter Kid Sports - Swamp Hockey
66-02-11  Kentucky Cock Fighting
66-02-14  Valentine's Day
66-02-18  True Believer-dom
66-02-21  The Head of the Demonstrator
66-02-25  Tell The Story Already
66-03-04  Lost High School Ring
66-03-07  Hillbilly Radio
66-03-24  More Human Comedy
66-03-31  10-9-8-Phtt - Hamsters In Space
66-04-13  Peace in Mankind's Time
66-04-21  King Levinski meets Joe Lewis
66-04-25  John Dillinger
66-04-27  Barber Shop
66-04-29  Poetry - Guess the Celebrity Author
66-05-05  Go See The Chaplain - Emde's Folly
66-05-10  Boredom and Kicks
66-05-13  Kid Myths
66-05-14a The Prom - Hour 1 (Limelight show)
66-05-14b The Prom - Hour 2 (Limelight show)
66-05-19  Stealing From The Melon Patch
66-05-27  Tornadoes and Ball Lightning
66-05-31  Hooked on Altered States
66-06-04  Army Life
66-06-06  Shep's Trip to the Middle East 1
66-06-07  Shep's Trip to the Middle East 2
66-06-08  Shep's Trip to the Middle East 3
66-06-09  Shep's Trip to the Middle East 4
66-06-10  Shep's Trip to the Middle East 5
66-06-17  The Beautiful Army
66-06-21  Inside Radio
66-06-23  Form vs Substance
66-06-28  Twenty-Three Skiddoo
66-06-29  Disogranized Baseball
66-07-05  The Origin of Electricity
66-07-12  Game Called on Account of Frogs
66-07-17  Riverview Amusement Park - Riding the Bobs
66-07-22  Awake Out There - Voyeurism
66-07-27  Straws In The Wind
66-08-09  Dynamic Trivia
66-08-10  Football Fashions with Mr Chuckie
66-08-12  Lenny Bruce Memorial
66-08-25  Fantasy and Reality
66-08-26  New Minority - Dogs
66-09-23  Keep Your Pants on
66-09-29  The American Aristocracy
66-11-10  Second Banana in Politics
66-12-30  Haiku Poetry
67-06-29  Inventions and Shep's First Job
67-11-25  Boredom in the Army - USO Pass
68-01-xx  Rabbits on the March - Attack of the Locusts
68-03-23  Bolus' Wedding
68-06-11  Electrical Shocks and Cheating in School
68-06-15  Animal Kingdom - Dead Flies
68-06-18  Campaign Cliches
68-06-21  Krapp's Last Tape
68-06-27  Dr Fu Man Chu
68-06-28  Poetry by TS Eliot, Elizabeth Bishop, Kenneth Patchen
68-07-03  Losing Your Eyebrows
68-07-04  Ludlow Kissel and the Dago Bomb (1968)
68-07-08  Stealing From The Melon Patch
68-08-03  Fireman Fred
68-08-08  Fireman Fred (possible dupe?)
68-11-22  Shooting Craps in Company K
69-04-18  Python in the Toilet
69-10-03  People Frozen in Amber
69-10-08  Two Kinds of Education
69-10-10  Peanut Butter Anonymous
69-10-20  Send for Particulars, Testimonials
69-11-04  Salute to Halftime
69spring  The Margate Elephant
70-01-xx  The Steel Mill
70-07-13  Mausoleum in the Basement
70-11-28  Wilbur Duckworth and his Magic Baton
70-12-09  Frozen in a Block of Ice
70-xx-xx  Year One and the Cuckoo Eye
71-01-07  Scientific Proof of Harmful Effects
71-08-xx  Wanda Hickey - Writing A Book
71-12-21  New Year's Eve at Grandma's
71-12-xx  Christmas Gifts for the Affluent
71-12-xx  Singing Dogs, Talking Plants
72-02-10  Scrambled Eggs Light - Excelsior
72-02-21  Washington's Birthday
72-05-22  Dirigibles and the Future
72-09-19  Bad Taste Night
72-10-12  Fu Man Chu, Smell-O-Rama
72-10-18  Triumph at Carnegia Hall
72-10-31  Halloween - The Evil Darkness
72-11-08  Post Election Talk
72-11-22  Slob Equipment
72-12-22  Pre-Christmas Show
72-12-31  New Year's in Times Square (WCBS)
72-01-xx  Untitled show from somewhere in Florida
73-02-02  The Honeymooners
73-07-04  Ludlow Kissel and the Dago Bomb (1973)
73-08-13  Real Life, Aunt Theresa
73-11-23  Going to the Cockroach Races
74-08-20  Ireland - Pub Songs
74-11-22  Herd of Turkeys
74-11-25  Trains and Railroads
74-12-27  Jack Benny Tribute
75-01-01  New Years' Resolutions
75-06-03  Commercials on the Kazoo
75-06-03  The Delta Queen
75-07-04  Ludlow Kissel and the Dago Bomb (1975)
75-07-25  Flick's New Tires
75-09-29  Trip to Ireland
75-12-22  Christmas
75-xx-xx  The Dogs of Elsinore
76-12-21  Pulp Magazines
76-12-xx  Christmas Gifts for the Affluent
76-xx-xx  Mr. D'Agnostino and Commercials
76-xx-xx  Gruesome O'Mania
77-03-24  Time Capsule - Earth Day
77-03-25  Vampire Country
unknown   Floor
unknown   Sleeping on the Train
unknown   The Bumpus Family

In compiling this list outta several file directories and whatnot, I noticed I've accumulated some duplicates. Not so bad. This collection exists due to the Mass Backwards show on WBAI. Max Schmid, the host of Mass Backwards, is a Shepherd nut, and he spends the last 45 minutes of his weekly show rebroadcasting a Shepherd episode. Then he puts the episode up on a rolling selection for download every week. It's great for people like me who just don't have the time, money or energy to track down reel-to-reel recordings and transfer 'em digitally or what have you. This also means my episodes aren't clean by any means -- I'm using 'clean' here in the audio sense, meaning my shows have extraneous chatter before and after.

Schmid sometimes also pops in during the episodes themselves, correcting Shep's station IDs ("Speaking of soreheads, this is WOR, AM and FM, New York..." "Actually, this is WBAI-FM, New York") to keep things legal. You can't misrepresent your station identification, so Max has to correct each WOR ID just in case some lunkhead tunes in just as Shep says "This is WOR" and now thinks "Oh hey, I'm listening to an FM radio station in New York that doesn't exist anymore!" (WOR-FM is now WRKS-FM, aka 98.7 KISS-FM. Which I am sure would be thrilled to play 45 minutes of Shepherd every night, uh huh.)

Max also one time had to make a disclaimer after a cigarette ad, mentioning that these shows are historical entertainment and that no commercial endorsement from WBAI should be inferred or implied. I think that's only happened on one or two of the shows I have. Most of the time, however, the "Light up a Kent, you've got a good thing going" jingle is left unfettered. Again, since I wouldn't have access to these wonderful recordings otherwise, I can put up with the chatter.

Most of these shows were during Shep's days at WOR, New York, though he went syndicated at some point in the 1970s and in some of those shows you get, before his rollicking Bahn Frei theme, a stenatorian announcer intoning "And now, Jean Shepherd, humorist..." or somesuch. Hmm. I thought I had his first syndicated show. I'll have to check the show database to see when that was. "Limelight" in the listings denotes a live show Jean recorded at the Limelight club in Greenwich Village. He used to do them nearly every Saturday. On many regular WOR shows he'll pitch his next Limelight show, urging everyone to "come on down and make the scene." And an "xx" means the day or month (or both!) of the recording is unknown.

Audio quality ranges from spectacular to horrible; the only reason these recordings exist today is because of fans taping the nightly show right off the radio. Most of the recordings came from people in New York listening to WOR, so the reception is clear and everything's good. Some syndicated shows came from a fan in Florida, and there's AM echoes and bleeding and garbling and what have you. Sometimes it's fun to turn off the lights and pretend you're listening in on the AM ether, but most of the time I'd like to hear a, you know, clear copy. You can also hear the cassette squeaking in at least one show.

You can see here that Shep liked telling stories. He liked repeating some of his more famous stories, and the Ludlow Kissel story (feeble-minded neighbor meets gigantic firecracker) came back almost every Fourth of July. I can't fault him for recycling any topics, really, as the stuff I have spans 17 years of his radio career. Naturally you're going to come back to some old chestnuts every now and then. What is interesting is to see what changes with each retelling.

And, of course, every collector has one strange or curious wish, and mine is to listen to the Jean Shepherd show that he did the day I was born. According to the show database at Flick Lives, it's got something to do with Andy Capp.

(11 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:June 25th, 2005 10:21 pm (UTC)
do any of these involve the bumpuses?
[User Picture]
Date:June 26th, 2005 12:52 am (UTC)
I'm going out a limb and saying that last one does. :P
[User Picture]
Date:June 26th, 2005 03:09 am (UTC)
Oh, youuuu!

Yes, the last one on the list features the story about the Bumpus Family (previously called the Bodkins in other shows) and the hounds and the Easter Ham. Yep, in the original story the hounds (17 of 'em named Luke) make off with the old man's cherished ham, and they go to the Chinese restaurant for dinner. Shep actually combined several of his "I was this kid, see" stories and themes for A Christmas Story; Scut Farcus taking one on the chin, getting kicked down a giant kid's slide (at an amusement park rather than a Santa display) and the like. The main storyline is, of course, adapted from Shep's short story "Red Ryder Nails the Cleveland Street Kid."
[User Picture]
Date:June 26th, 2005 02:29 pm (UTC)

completely OT


Ahem. Very cute. Done now.

Date:June 27th, 2005 12:20 am (UTC)
Hi, I am conducting a survey of Boston area bloggers for my Masters dissertation and have selected your Blog through its listing on www.boston-online.com. Your participation in my online survey would be greatly appreciated and would only take around 5 minutes to complete. The survey can be reached at the following address

Thank you!
[User Picture]
Date:June 27th, 2005 03:23 am (UTC)
Oh, nifty!
Blog spam!
[User Picture]
Date:July 14th, 2005 04:52 pm (UTC)


gismonda sent me over here after I showed her where to find the audio for Shep's "Cowboy X" bit for Sesame Street.

Heck of a collection you've got going there.
[User Picture]
Date:July 15th, 2005 05:26 am (UTC)

Re: Hi

Whoa. Hey. Wait.

You know of Cowboy X?

The outlaw who rode thru Snidler's Gulch putting Xes on everything, until the citizens asked him to stop, so he did... and became Cowboy O instead?

Now that's just wicked awesome. Pleased to meet you. Now here's a story that involves Cowboy X.

You see, about 15 years ago, as an impressionable yout, I got ahold of the Too Many Songs by Tom Lehrer songbook ("And not enough drawings by Ronald Searle") and realized that he'd done some songs for The Electric Company.

And a few years ago, perusing the Flick Lives website, the "Whoa, hey, wait" moment I had when I realized that Jean Shepherd had done the Cowboy X bit for Sesame Street was roughly the same as the moment I had with Mr. Lehrer, Silent E, and L-Y.

Speaking of Mr. Lehrer, Rhino's box set The Remains of Tom Lehrer includes other Electric Company songs, such as "N-Apostrophe-T" (where he sings a duet with himself) and "Snore, Sniff & Sneeze" ("I like to sniffle, it really is nice / One handkerchief'll never suffice / But brother, watch out for the breeze / When I sneeze!")

Ah, yes, um. Very awesome.
[User Picture]
Date:July 15th, 2005 05:37 pm (UTC)

Re: Hi

See, and I didn't make the Cowboy X-Shepherd connection until I read "Excelsior, you fathead! : the art and enigma of Jean Shepherd" by Eugene B. Bergmann earlier this year. I guess I didn't do enough poking around on Flick Lives. A little.

Have you read "Seriously funny : the rebel comedians of the 1950s and 1960s"? I think the Tom Lehrer chapter is the best one in the book. Haven't seen the Lehrer box set or heard those other two songs, but my brother dug up a copy of his subway song for me, so I've got that kicking around somewhere.

L-Y scared the heck out of me when I was little. That bit about Dracula, y'know.
[User Picture]
Date:July 15th, 2005 06:11 pm (UTC)

Re: Hi

I've never read that book, but I have various publications on the likes of Stan Freberg, Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl (who I just missed last year when he came 'round town... damn!) I think the satire of the 50s and early 60s is some of the best comedy ever writ.

And oh my -- I would really love a copy of the Subway Song as I ride the Red Line every day through those very stops mentioned (even though they renamed Washington to "Downtown Crossing" 25 years ago; but HCKC-PD is still almost a valid onomotopoetic punchline!) I didn't know recordings of that existed.

I can trade you any of Shep's shows, or those other Lehrer Electric Company shows, or even his hit "That's Mathematics!" which celebrates Andrew Wiles' proof of Fermat's Last Theorem as so:
Andrew Wiles gently smiles, does his thing and voila!
QED, we agree, and we all shout hurrah!
As he confirms what Fermat
Jotted down in that margin
(Which could've used some enlargin')
Oh, heck, trade? Who am I kidding? I can put up all the Lehrer stuff tonight for your perusal and stuff. No sense holding back the goodies. Shep episodes, archival as they are, can be downloaded by, uh, appointment only.
[User Picture]
Date:July 15th, 2005 07:02 pm (UTC)

Re: Hi

Sadly, I don't have internet access at home right now (hopefully soon) but thanks for the offer!

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