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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.”

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