Tag Archives: talk radio

Hello Caller. How Can You Help Me?

11 Aug

August 10, 2018

Radio is intimate and personal. There’s a live voice on the other end of the speaker. You close your eyes and you see him or her, not as they want you to see them, but as your imagination wants you to see them. Radio fosters a sense of community that television is simply unable to.

Art Bell, founder and former host of Coast To Coast AM had a fantastic rapport with his listeners. Five nights a week, from 1am to 5am Eastern Time, he took callers on a journey of the weird. UFO’s Big Foot, time travel, all of it was on the table, and none of it was laughed off and no callers were insulted. Listeners came to know Art Bell. He spoke to them about his life, his family, his daily chores. And he listened to callers when they spoke to him, really listened and cared. To millions of people he was a friend, or even an extended family member.

So when Art’s wife died in 2006 it hit hard.

Art’s wife Ramona was not a presence on the show. She was rarely on the air, even though she was often in the studio. Art broadcast out of a studio he built on his own property in Nevada. One year on New Year’s Eve Art posted a photo of the two of them celebrating in the little homemade broadcast center, both wearing party hats, she sitting on his lap as the ball dropped. Listeners knew her through Art, and when she died, swiftly and unexpectedly at the age of 47, Art took it hard, badly, and the listeners took it hard too.

Art had taken a step back in the previous years, becoming the weekend host of Coast To Coast AM while letting someone else take the bulk of the week’s shows. Anyone would be forgiven for taking some time off the air to grieve, to work out what comes next. Anyone else.

Art had been a broadcaster his whole life. And if he suddenly left the air now, it would be a double loss for him; first his wife, then the thing he loved almost as much. He needed to be on the air, to talk to the audience, to share his grief, and theirs. Those shows in the days and weeks after his wife’s death were therapy for him. But as entertainment they were awful. Painful to listen to at times.

Art would have guests but he was woefully distracted. He talk to them and listeners could hear that Art was not really committed. His mind would wander and he’d ramble off topic. Each show began with a monologue, but during this time Art would not talk about the events of the day. Instead he’d wonder aloud how he could go on. He decided that he no longer needed two cars and tried to sell one over the air. He asked listeners if anyone was interested in an old blender or other things around the house he figured he no longer needed. He asked callers who were in the area to come over and take things off his hands. He debated the best way to dispose of his wife’s clothes. He considered selling his house and asked callers to send him offers. He was talking into the microphone, but he was really talking to himself. He was working things out. He was mourning.

During this time he had a guest who was blind since birth. She began to describe a car accident she was in during college. Art was clearly somewhere else. He truly tried to give his attention to his guests, and when he was on top of his game he was one of the best interviewers on the air. But on this night there would be long pauses when Art didn’t realize the guest had stopped talking. He asked questions he’d already asked. And when the blind guest talked about the car accident, after a long pause, Art asked “were you driving the car?”

There was another pause, an uncomfortable one. The guest finally said “no, I’m blind.” And then another pause, followed by Art murmuring an apology. The whole exchange, the whole show, in fact the whole month or so following his wife’s death were all cringe-worthy listening. The producers of the show never should have let Art on the air. The shows were terrible. But in a larger sense, it was the right thing to do.

It was therapy. Live on the air, real self-help. Over the course of each five-hour show, the listeners would be witnesses, and through their calls and offers of love, support, and advice, be part of, the therapeutic journey of one man coming to grips with the loss of his true love.

It eventually worked out. Art gradually came to terms with his loss, and he even found new love with a new wife. And the listeners haeard every bit of that journey too.

But as radio goes, and as entertainment goes, those shows were both powerful and awful.

 

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Another Night With John Newly

18 Oct

October 18, 2014

Strange Theremin music plays in the background.

Lying Awake with John Newly airs six nights a week from midnight to six am. Callers are welcome on the studio line, 1-800-463-WKAT, the international line by calling overseas operator 27, or the special “I’m calling from a UFO hotline,” 1-800-UFO -IGOT. And now, here’s John Newly.

Music fades out, show begins.

Good morning everyone, it’s after midnight and we’re Lying Awake. I’ve got a great show for you tonight. Out first guest will be Professor Victor Danzig to discuss his latest breakthrough in the field of animal thought transference and with him is Abbott Curry, who spent a week living the life of a chicken. Wow, that’s amazing stuff. Later on we’ll do some ghost hunting with Peter Blake and we’ll also talk to a man who claims that sunspots can cure acne. But first, I’ll be taking your calls right after these messages.

Commercial for WKAT 463 am radio’s listener anti-bullying Old Western Cook-Out and Jamboree, sponsored by Mike’s Meat.

Commercial for John Newly’s new book, The Psychic Way to a Clean Colon.

Promo for the WKAT afternoon drive program, Jo-Jo and the Spot.

We’re back and my producer Fast Eddie tells me that we’ll have to reschedule ghost hunter Peter Blake for another night. Apparently he’s having phone troubles. But that just means we’ll have more time for your calls. It’s a quarter past the hour and our first caller is Pete from Tampa Florida. Welcome to Lying Awake, Pete.

-Hello?

Hi Pete, go ahead, you’re on the air.

-I have a question for the chicken man.

He’ll be on later in the hour, be sure to call in again. Next up, let’s try the international line. Hello, who do we have?

-Hi, my name is Louis. I’m calling from France but I’m originally from The United States. Hello?

I’m here, what’s on your mind?

-Well, back when I was a kid, we had these things we called straws, only they weren’t straws, they were like these things we rolled up. I lived on a farm. Well, we had these straws which you made by rolling up like a shoot of wheat.

Uh huh.

-But it didn’t have to be wheat, it could be barley or corn leaves, or whatever, and we’d chew on them, like out of the corner of our mouths, you know, like a straw, all rolled up?

I think we can all picture it Louis.

-So I’m wondering, like you know how you hear all about GMO’s nowadays? I’m wondering if maybe all those straws I put in my mouth maybe had the GMO stuff in them and gave me mouth cancer? 

What did your doctor say?

– Well has says I don’t have any cancer in my mouth, but you know, I’m worried. I’m 84 an what if one day I get the mouth cancer?

Only your doctor can prescribe a course of treatment, but I always believe in the power of positive thought. Just imagine that you don’t have mouth cancer and I bet you won’t get it. We’ll be back with Professor Victor Danzig and Abbott Curry, who lived as a chicken for an entire week, right after this.

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