I’ve been into radio for as long as I can remember. Before I became a ham, I was into shortwave and broadcast radio (back when there were things worth listening to). If you lived in the eastern USA in the 1960s and 70s, you may remember tuning in to WOR 710 AM – a clear-channel powerhouse that covered half the country at night. I did nearly every weeknight, so I could listen to The Jean Shepherd Show. He was a master storyteller, recounting events from his childhood, his military service, and more, as well as commentary on life in general. Perhaps you are familiar with the popular holiday movie “A Christmas Story” – Jean Shepherd wrote that story based on his own childhood experiences and it is his voice you hear providing the narration throughout the film.
Shep was also a ham! Originally licensed at the age of 14 in Hammond, Indiana as W9QWN (you can listen to him tell the story at https://youtu.be/P4TASsfEgO8 ) he later held various call signs as he moved about the country (you may remember there was a time when you were issued a new call sign if you moved to a different region) until he finally ended up as K2ORS when he moved to New York. He remained active with that call sign until he became a Silent Key in 1999.
Many of his on-air stories related to his experiences as an amateur radio operator (his story about building a modulator and making his first AM phone QSO can be heard at https://youtu.be/YabPko5m1-k ) and many more are about his various jobs in broadcast radio, as well as radio and technology (of the time) in general.
If you search online you can find a number of books he’s written, as well as more recordings from his 20+ year stint at WOR scattered around and in small collections, but if you enjoyed the couple of broadcasts shared here and want more, you can find what’s probably the largest single collection (over 400 episodes) of Jean Shepherd airchecks at: http://afterburnradio.com/shepherd/PodcastGenerator/ or
Or by searching for “Jean Shepherd Airchecks” on your favorite podcast site or app.
You’ll find these recordings to be of varying quality, as most were actual airchecks recorded by fans at home off the AM radio. To me, the imperfections add to the nostalgia and make it sound just like I remember AM radio of that era, as do the occasional commercials for Palisades Park (“come on over”) and Ballentine Beer. Excelsior!