Jean Shepherd is neither a shepherd, nor a woman. If you know who that is, I have absolutely no doubt that you are already an enormous fan. The mischievous New York radio personality, whose eloquent tenure spanned from 1948 to 1977, was nothing short of an eggheaded genius, a word I VERY rarely use (well, I seldom use eggheaded either for that matter). His brilliant storytelling and enthusiastic delivery has, very poorly put, never been equaled and, I’m certain, never will. Also an established writer (who, if anyone, has never heard of A Christmas Story?!), Shep, as his fans knew him, shared his magnetic rants over every conceivable medium, and will forever be identified as radio’s most overlooked legend.
Like with any show, there is a theme song. Shep, for reasons not entirely clear, chose Arthur Fiedler’s version of the Bahn Frei Polka to kick-off his shows. Like the start of a marathon horse race, the Bahn Frei Polka launches from the gate with a galloping wallop of fury and anxious anticipation that, to this day, gives me goosebumps and an enormous smile every time I hear it.
Please, I beg of you… if you have iTunes and an internet connection, treat yourself to one of life’s most cherished treasures, and subscribe to the (free) podcasts, The Brass Figlagee and Mass Backwards. With nearly 1400 recorded shows (you read that right), the prosperous servitude of this man’s objective vision should be shared and analyzed by any and every fan of the childhood laugh. Long live Jean Shepherd!