- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 13, 2008

The talk is good tonight. Angels, mystery fireballs in space, rustlings in the attic, memories of grandma, a cure-all from the ancients, some scrappy politics. Someone gets choked up. A truck driver shouts over the roar of his diesel. A woman offers the details of a particularly close encounter of the alien sort with complete conviction.

There were weird lights, she says. And wires.

Ah, yes. Settle back, folks. Plump up the pillows. This is “Coast to Coast AM,” the all-night talk radio phenomenon heard from 1 to 5 a.m. on 500 stations, seven nights a week, by three million very devoted, very earnest listeners around the globe.

Five of those nights belong to host George Noory, whose mellifluous voice and empathetic bearing provide the ultimate foil to those who want to talk of Bigfoot, political assassinations, Armageddon and the time they awoke to find a dim figure, gazing at them from the end of the bed with luminous eyes.

Mr. Noory is the very model of civility through it all, that honey-smooth voice - familiar and authoritative both - steering the conversation to its conclusion in a very satisfying minute or two. Sometimes he takes 50 calls a night.

”George? Is this me?” listeners often ask.

“Yes, St. Louis. This is you,” he replies.

It could be Toronto. Or New Orleans or Anchorage. Or nowhere. The “you” - hailing from some distant dell in Vermont, an urban condo or perhaps a cell phone on a stretch of highway - get their moment.

“Americans are in a huge pressure cooker right now. They’ve got to be allowed to vent their feelings. Through talk radio specifically, they have a feeling there’s someone to listen to them. It has had an effect, and that is to keep them calm,” Mr. Noory said recently.

At 57, he’s got more than three decades in the broadcast business as newsman and a host of the old-school sort. He doesn’t argue, he doesn’t run roughshod over his listeners or the three special guests who make up the programming every night. Among his fans: C-SPAN’s venerable founder Brian Lamb.

”I want to tell people the truth, no matter what it is. Think my success is based on the fact that every listener realizes I’m just like them. I don’t put myself above them or below them. They get a straight shot with me, and I am going to bat for them,” Mr. Noory continued in that signature, dulcet voice - all lyrical cadence and full of promise.

”I was born for this,” he added.

Growing up in the fabulous, post-atomic, “The Day the Earth Stood Still” 1950s didn’t hurt either.

As a lad he read “We are Not Alone” by Walter Sullivan, a New York Times science reporter who offered a reasoned look into the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. The book provided young George with an epiphany of sorts, one that left its persistent flavor as curious youth grew into professional broadcaster - though not without serving nine years as an officer with the U.S. Navy.

The world’s circumstances in a post-Sept. 11 world have also lent a persistent flavor to Mr. Noory’s calling.

“Our first hour is devoted to events of the day. When I talk about the truth, it includes what’s happening to us - rising gas prices, Iraq, lying politicians. I want my listeners to get the truth, and hopefully from one source. Us. ‘Coast to Coast’ is a barometer, and I think people are crying out for honesty and change,” he said.

Optimism is important to him, as well as a clear-eyed view of cosmic stakes. His listeners seem to sense that some huge, universal event is in the making - and it has been intensifying over the past year, he says. George Noory doesn’t elaborate. But he does pause.

“We’re going to win. Good people will win over bad and evil people,” he said.

He has been faithfully anchoring the program for more than five years, replacing original host Art Bell - who created the show in the 1980s and has retired, though he still steps in from time to time to give some of his old loyalists a listening fix.

“George is great broadcaster who has continued a tradition. But there’s more. The metaphysical world is the sleeping giant of media. There is a huge market, a wonderful new genre for audiences who want to be on the border of philosophy and physics as science unfolds, and fact gets stranger than fiction. It is the area between fantastic and real,” said Michael Harrison, editor of “Talkers,” talk radio’s main industry publication.

“Thank goodness for Noory, who can prove there’s more to talk radio than left and right politics. Radio is the international campfire. Personally, I’d like to see people like Fox News’ Alan Colmes take a shot at this genre,” Mr. Harrison said.

Still, George Noory has a keen sense of politics and he is not without ambition.

“Americans have the right to decide the direction of this country, and they’re desperate for answers. They feel hopeless, they get bombarded with bad news. But you know what? I think our traditional American values are still holding up,” Mr. Noory said, and that smooth voice takes on a no-nonsense edge.

And no wonder.

George Noory may run for president in 2012, a year that is full of portent according to the Mayan calendar - as well as George’s instincts. His listeners are not thrilled with the current crop of poll-driven, brand-named, millionaire politicians. Maybe there’s a heavenly change afoot. Maybe not.

“I’d come at it like the people’s president, as someone without a political background who knows people. There may come that time when they say ‘we’re mad as hell,’ and then they go to the ballot box,” he said.

The mind reels over the possibilities.

President George Noory, running on the All-American Populist Grass Roots Cosmic Optimist ticket. One thing’s for sure. He’d have a huge audience for a fireside chat.

“I would like ‘Coast to Coast’ to be broadcast out of the White House,” he said, adding a rich, savory blend to those dulcet tones.

“This country needs to be looked after.”

George Noory’s top 10 list of late night topics

What the heck do people talk about as a long, long evening edges until dawn? Things that go bump in the night, certainly — and lots more, according to the man who keeps it all in check for 3 million listeners, five nights a week on 500 radio stations nationwide. Mr. Noory — just “George” to his devoted fans — made this list for The Washington Times based on his years as the intrepid, uber-polite host of “Coast to Coast.”

And now (please cue quirky theme music), here’s Noory’s Top 10, and they are in no particular order:

—Conspiracies of any sort.

— Angels, ghosts and other entities including shadow people, poltergeists, sensed presences, et al.

— UFO cases, from Roswell to contemporary sightings, including alien craft in the sea.

— Alternative health — inventive remedies, natural healing, crystals and the like

— “Real” science — the search for new planets, space phenomena, exobiology, unexplained happenstance.

— Changes in the Earth — volcanic eruptions, weather phenomena, mutant flora and fauna.

— Psychics.

— The predictions of Edgar Cayce and other prognosticators

— Ancient concerns — the pyramids, dead civilizations, ruins.

— 2012 — the implications that a huge change is due on Earth, based on the Mayan calendar and in other sources

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