A Christmas Shepherd (Ep. 064)

Jean ShepherdThis Christmas story of a shepherd has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with the raconteur, radio host and improvisational storyteller Jean Shepherd. If you know Shepherd at all it might be as the voice of the adult Ralph Parker in the 1983 film A Christmas Story. If, like me, you grew up within the sound of New York’s WOR radio you might know Shepherd as that guy who talked for hours, without notes, spinning stories of a Midwest childhood and big-city angst.

Shepherd’s story, and the events leading up to A Christmas Story, are far more complex, and human, than can be dispatched in a few minutes. So, Out Of My Mindpodcast host Jay Douglas went to Long Island to interview two men with intimate knowledge of Shepherd and his life —- author, blogger and Shepherd historian Eugene Bergmann, whose book Excelsior, You Fathead; The Art and Enigma of Jean Shepherd is the closest we’ll ever get to a look inside Shepherd the man and the artist, and Tom Lipscomb, media executive, publisher, editor and playwright, who published a number of Jean Shepherd’s books.

In this episode of the Out Of My Mind podcast, host Jay Douglas got Eugene and Tom together for a lively discussion of Shepherd, his art, his frustrations and his battle with his own ego over A Christmas Story.

Eugene Bergmann

Courtesy of Eugene Bergmann

Eugene B. Bergmann began listening to Jean Shepherd radio shows in 1956. His book, Excelsior, You Fathead! The Art and Enigma of Jean Shepherd, a detailed description and appreciation of Shepherd’s creative world, was published in 2005. His transcribed and edited selection of Shepherd’s Army stories never before in print, Shep’s Army: Bummers, Blisters, And Boondoggles, was published in 2013. He has also written the commentaries for sets of Shepherd’s syndicated radio shows and several published articles about his work. Bergmann continues such activities with his blog, www.shepquest.wordpress.com, and has recently been adding to it, Artsy Fartsy, illustrated essays on his wide-ranging adventures in the arts. He and his family live on Long Island, N. Y.


Tom Lipscomb

Courtesy of Tom Lipscomb

Thomas H. Lipscomb is a media executive/CEO; publisher of numerous bestsellers; editor; writer. He was the founder of Times Books at the New York Times Company. As a serial entrepreneur he was the founder and CEO of two high tech public companies (based upon his patents in digital rights management). Tom founded The Center for the Digital Future, now the Annenberg Center at USC. A former visiting professor and lecturer at numerous universities, he is the author of articles in dozens of publications from the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal, to Harper’s and the Readers Digest. Tom is a prize-winning playwright and is currently writing a nonfiction book on what Rebecca West has called “the greatest mystery of the Second World War.”


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Photo: Courtesy of Jim Clavin (Rights: From the collection of Jim Clavin)

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