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Talk Radio Research Project
Heavy Hundred 2001
Week in Review
of Talk Radio 2002 Edition
at the Heritage Foundation
No list of talk radio’s 25 greatest would be complete without the
name Long John Nebel appearing on it.
Younger broadcasters and fans of talk radio might think Art Bell was the
first to explore UFOs and the like on late night talk radio. But - Orson
Welles’ radio play aside - it was Long John Nebel who delved into
the possibility that we are being visited by aliens during many of his
nightly broadcasts in New York (and up and down the East Coast) on WOR
in the late 1950s and 1960s.
Nebel wasn’t a believer or even open to the possibility of aliens.
He was a self-proclaimed huckster through and through. He was a pitchman
in his mid-forties when a WOR executive noticed him and thought his style
would work well on the radio. It did.
On his late night show Nebel would talk to people claiming to be from
other planets, he would host roundtables featuring New Yorkers from all
walks of life talking about everyday topics, he created characters he
played himself, and he produced elaborate on-air put-ons.
While Nebel pioneered these talk radio techniques, he knew exactly what
he was. His authorized biography by Don Bain is titled, “Radio Talk
King, Master Salesman, Magnificent Charlatan.”