John Shepard III

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John Shepherd III
Born (1886-03-19)March 19, 1886
Providence, Rhode Island
Died May 11, 1950(1950-05-11) (aged 64)
Occupation Retail store owner
Known for Radio pioneer, founder of the Yankee Network
Parents John Shepard Jr.

John Shepard III (1886 – 1950) was an American radio executive and merchant. Among his many achievements, he was among the original board members of the National Association of Broadcasters and founded both the Yankee Network and the Yankee News Service.


John Shepard was born into a family of merchants. His grandfather, John Shepard Senior and partner Henry Norwell founded Shepard-Norwell, a Boston retail store. His father, John Shepard Junior continued in the family business. the Shepard-Norwell. Initially the store sold dry goods but by the late 1870s, its merchandise included fashionable clothing and hats, imported fabrics, draperies, parasols and other clothing. By the time John Shepard's son, John Jr, assumed operations, it had become one of Boston's most popular department stores. The large store, at 30 Winter Street, occupied most of the city block created by Winter Street and Winter Place. In 1915, Shepard-Norwell opened its own restaurant, the Colonial.

John III attended Brookline High School in Brookline, Massachusetts and a naval preparatory school in Annapolis, Maryland. In 1912, he married Mabel E. Fletcher of Providence, with whom he had three daughters.[1] By 1917, John III had joined the family business as a department manager, making three generations of Shepards in the company.[2] His brother, Robert, managed the Shepard Store in Providence and John soon reached the upper management of the Boston store.

Radio career[edit]

In the early 1920s, people were still building their own radio sets and radios were quickly developing into the latest craze. KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and 8MK (later WWJ) in Detroit, Michigan in late August 1920. Station 1XE, on the campus of Tufts College in Medford Hillside, MA had been airing broadcasts off and on since 1916. At the Westinghouse plant in Springfield, Massachusetts, a new radio station went on the air in mid September 1921. WBZ radio received the first commercial license issued by the United States Department of Commerce, the predecessor regulatory agency to the Federal Communications Commission. It was in this environment, where radio was transforming American life, that John Shepard III decided the Shepard Stores needed not only a radio department, but a radio station. By May 1922, the Boston newspapers reported that not only was Shepard opening a radio department, he planned to build a station in his store.[3]

John Shepard and his brother founded the Yankee Network in 1930. The flagship Yankee station was Boston's 1230 (on the dial), later 1260 and finally 680 WNAC. The Yankee Network had affiliates in Massachusetts (Fall River, Lowell–Lawrence, New Bedford, Springfield), Connecticut (Bridgeport, Hartford, Waterbury), Rhode Island (Providence), New Hampshire (Manchester), and Maine (Bangor, Portland).


  1. ^ Who's Who in Massachusetts, 1941 edition, p. 695
  2. ^ "The John Shepards Congratulated", Boston Globe, 2 October 1917, p. 6
  3. ^ "New Radio Station in Shepard Stores", Boston Globe, 12 May 1922, p. 8