Episode 064—A Christmas Shepherd 8

Jean Shepherd - The Out Of My Mind Blog

Listen to Episode 064


Almost everyone knows the role of the shepherd in the story of Christmas. This podcast tells the story of that other Christmas Shepherd, the one who has nothing to do with religion, heavenly stars or mangers. Nevertheless, this Shepherd is as much a part of Christmas as Santa, stockings and the Harry Simeone Chorale.

But for the grace of a good woman he wouldn’t be.

If you know the name Jean Shepherd at all it might be as the voice of the adult Ralphie in the 1983 cult-film hit A Christmas Story. (If, like me, you were fortunate enough to grow 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.)

Without A Christmas Story, the TNT cable network would have to satisfy itself with reruns of Miracle on 34th Street or a flickering yule log on Christmas Day. And, TNT almost did. Because Shepherd, the film’s co-writer and driving creative force, came close to not writing the script at all.

He thought his other stories — ones he deemed to have more gravitas — would propel him to fame.

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 Mind podcast host Jay Douglas traveled 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, writer, editor and playwright, who published a number of Jean Shepherd’s books.

Euguene and Tom sat down for a lively discussion of Shepherd, his art, his frustrations and his battle with his own ego over A Christmas Story.

It’s a Shepherd story you probably never he(a)rd.


Listen to Episode 064


Eugene Bergmann - The Out Of My Mind Blog

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 - The Out Of My Mind Blog

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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