Jean Shepherd on Getting His Class A Amateur Radio License
Not very long ago I mentioned
Jean Shepherd(original assignee of
W9QWN and later
K2ORS call signs)
as being one of my favorite old-time radio broadcasters (1960s-1970s).
Jean was famous for recounting stories of his own life and for reporting news of the time in a way that
could hold you in rapt attention from beginning to end. His humor, wit, and command of the English language
was acknowledged by his contemporaries. If you listen to enough of his broadcasts you will notice the
frequent mention of electronics and his experiences as a licensed amateur radio operator beginning at
a tender young age. Just recently I listened to him recount his first day in high school when a SNAFU
in the computer-generated (must have been a UNIVAC) class schedule mistakenly had him reporting to the
girls' swimming pool for gym class, and, to make a long story short, he spent nearly two weeks sitting
outside the boys' pool room while awaiting an official class change, whereupon he would read his copy
of QST magazine to pass the time.
While looking through a list of archived broadcasts during his time at radio station WOR in New York
City, I discovered an episode where Jean described the time he, as a teenager, took and passed the Class A
amateur radio test and got his ticket, thereby earning him the highest levels of privilege as a transmitter
of signals (anyone, even the unwashed license-less layman, can listen on any
frequency). In typical Jean Shepherd fashion, he provides a surprise and very amusing turn of
events in the story which you will be wise to remember when/if you ever find yourself overly pleased
with your own accomplishments and thinking very highly of yourself. You could listen to it as a simple
MP3 audio file, but if by instead watching the two-part YouTube videos below you'll be treated to a
host of cool vintage radio gear at the same time. The video's editor clipped the story out of a full
broadcast to omit irrelevant content.
In the "Code School" broadcast below, you'll hear where "Shep" was able to copy Morse Code at more
than 50 words per minute (wpm) at his peak!
Jean Shepherd Gets His Class A Ham License (part 1)
Jean Shepherd Gets His Class A Ham License (part 2)
Jean Shepherd: Bahn Frei Was Shep's Radio Show Intro Music (begin 0:0)
<--- You will love this from beginning to end!
Jean Shepherd: Ham Radio - January 29, 1965 (begin 6:15)
<--- Very interesting story of unintentional radio
and TV DXing
Jean Shepherd: Code School - April 13, 1965 (begin 0:0)
Jean Shepherd: Crystal Radios - September 8, 1971 (begin 0:0)
Jean Shepherd: Radio Parts - April 16, 1975 (begin 19:15)
Jean Shepherd: How Radio Works, 1970 (begin 0:0)
the consummate storyteller capable of recounting in detail his experiences in the U.S. Army, during
his youth, and throughout life when faced with many unique circumstances. His biggest career break came
following a Christmas 1962 broadcast of "Duel in the Snow, or Red Ryder Nails the Cleveland Street Kid,"
a story which came from his book "In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash," and became the basis of the hit movie "A Christmas Story."
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