Cited by some as the creator of free-form talk radio, Jean Shepherd was born in Chicago on July 26, 1921 and divided his youth between Chicago's south side and Hammond, Indiana. His radio career began as a disk jockey at WKRC/Cincinnati, where he was hired to play records and eventually was fired for talking too much between songs. Similar stints (with similar results) followed at Cincinnati stations WCKY and WSAI.
In 1955, Shepherd moved to WOR/New York and found an outlet for his verbosity with an intimate, late-night show devoted mainly to extemporaneous, mostly improvised monologues. Shepherd's fascinating tangents, observations and recollections gained him a devoted audience whom he referred to as "night people." A 45-minute version of the show was heard nightly on WOR from 1961 to 1977.
Shepherd's penchant for bittersweet nostalgia and piquant observations ultimately led to success in other media as well, including a musical collaboration with jazz great Charles Mingus and a series of books inspired in part by his radio monologues. His 1966 collection, In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash, was the inspiration for the film A Christmas Story, which Shepherd wrote and narrated.
Jean Shepherd died on October 16, 1999.
He was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2005.