|Somerville High School
This is from a March 1963 Valkyrie News (Somerville High School, New Jersey newspaper) Author unknown - I cut it out and put it in my scrapbook, where it still is! - Lowell
KING OF THE NIGHT PEOPLE
"Night People" who come on strong during the dark hours from 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., already know about late night radio. Members of the "Day people's" society, however, as most of us are, may be missing a fascinating opportunity to explore the world of late hour listening.
The best example of this type of radio is found on station WOR. Beginning at 11:15 p.m. the King of the Night People, Jean Shepherd arrives amidst blaring trumpets. For the next 45 minutes, Shepherd reminisces about his Indiana childhood during the Depression, his career as an Army private and his early days in radio broadcasting.
Shepherd's stories about his high school years are especially interesting. One evening he told of how, as a freshman, he joined the football squad and after weeks of tough workouts for the "big game" he felt he was ready. He had become hard as nails. He was now a red-blooded he-man. Yet, amazingly his team lost its first game by a score of 70-0.
Apart from nostalgia, "Old Shep" holds forth on the burning issues of the day which include spotting phonies, and the evils of being a status-seeker. Shepherd is indescribable. One must hear him to believe him.
by Aaron Boxer
Jean Shepherd, hailed by many as the "leading Satirist of the Underground," gave some personal observations last Friday (February 3rd) of "that great appendage to Manhattan Island:" Muhlenberg College. Before a packed student assembly in Memorial Hall, he calculated, then diagnosed his listeners from the vantage point of a "native to civilization," a sojourner from a sublime place (New York City) where society and God pay daily public avowal.
If he seemed extremely biased to Manhattan Island during his brief appearance, it was because he wanted to master that expression at the time. Shepherd spoke extemporaneously, gathering little morsels of satire while en route to Muhlenberg.
When he spoke of the crud settling gently "over the merry swamps" of New Jersey, we cannot question him further. The character analogous to "Shep" saw it. And when he envisioned dead birds gliding aimlessly above the Garden State amidst the "sultry crud," we graciously accepted it.
Shepherd exudes more than fun. Behind the facade of savage wit that attracts a devoted 27-state audience each night over WOR Manhattan radio, bubbles a warm medium of thought, true purpose and "serious" analyzation.
His comments on Vogue and The New Yorker ran somewhat different to the above statement. "Those guys on The New Yorker sound like they're knitting little doilies for their readers. It's a big joke. John O'Hara told me he submitted one article eight times and each time they sent it back for revision." He went on to say that the author finally gave up and told them to write it themselves. Several weeks later, O'Hara saw a text that faintly resembled a topic he had written previously, lacking all the forceful elements of its original being.
Shepherd's biting satire, then, must be seen through the spectrum of sincere desires and unpretentious passions. He stands for the crusaders of truth, "the saying-something crowd," and attacks the small-time hypocrites that think culturally depraved Philadelphia is anything more than Allentown to the third power.
Shepherd remarked that he prefers Al Capp humor to that of his close associate Jules Feiffer. This is pure honesty, a common trademark to all those who know Mr. Shepherd. Unlike so many in his field, he isn't satirical for the sake of comedy. There is an underlying purpose, a motive, always, behind his hilarious glimpses of the world.
|From the 30th Friends of Old Time Radio Convention
Photos by Lowell