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Anti-social behavior on “Coast to Coast AM” February 28, 2006

Posted by Matt Hurst in Uncategorized.

a bit dated (one year old) examination of insomniatic culture. Hypocriticly, I tuned in tonight for a discussion of recent advances in nano-tech. Don’t worry bout me though…

“Coast to Coast AM” is a late-night radio talk show about the paranormal hosted by George Noory, broadcast to over 500 radio stations weekdays and with original host Art Bell on Saturday nights. Noory, who used to host another such show on KTRS (on which Coast to Coast AM is broadcast in the St. Louis area), is a self described expert on the paranormal, but also has a long history in the broadcasting industry. Perhaps with this unusual combination of interest and skill on Noory‘s part, “Coast to Coast AM” has become the number one rated radio show in it’s time slot nationally, that is to say from 1-5 am in the morning (hence, the name). A show which such a wide influence is surely worthy of some inspection.
As far as I can discern, the average listener is of middle age (30-55) and more likely to be male than female, as reflected by the callers during call-in segments of the show. Advertisers of the show seem to target an audience that is indebted (mortgage ads are dominant), fearful on the verge of paranoia (home security ads), spiritually aloof (many non-dominational churches), and probably sexually frustrated (all-natural male enhancement). With this in mind it is easy to understand that the attraction of the show is to those frustrated and thrown aside by society. These are the people out of place in the world – they work the night shift, have trouble sleeping at night, or just are devotedly interested in some aspect of the paranormal. The show itself, like many others in the talk radio format, seeks to suggest to its listeners targets for their frustration – this time it is the unseen and conspiratorial forces at work.
A typical show entails a short review of fringe stories tossed aside by the “mainstream media”, followed by the introduction of an expert in a field of interest to the show. Recent show topics include a Bigfoot roundtable discussion about the discovery of a new video of the legendary beast, a night devoted to future surveillance technology and its applications to persecute individuals (with particular interest in RFID), “The God Code” as it relates to numerology and the secret prehistoric nukes, underground and underwater bases run by the US army, and techniques for astral projection. There is a sharp undercurrent of New World Order mythology in each topic, whether it be about alien abduction (a favorite of the show’s), terrorism reports (Zarqawi’s nuclear threat), or the latest assault on individual liberty (RFID for instance). So often does Noory have these conversations, that even he does not catch himself making contradictions of his own opinions in between shows – a problem probably faced by his audience as well.
The show does not offer disclaimers about use for entertainment purposes only (as say a horoscope is) – it is offered as an opinion show, but the host seems sure of it’s truth. It is this poisonous atmosphere of misinformation that is indeed poisonous to public discourse. The show effectively tells the frustrated (and uninformed) listener that they are powerless to change their situation, as it is the result of an all encompassing conspiracy over which they have no way to halt or defeat. The apathetic listener is then encouraged to act in as an indulgent individual, possibly seeking spiritual enlightenment through special knowledge or just by trying the products that Mr. Noory plugs for at the beginning of each segment.
It is not fair to say that this show is Anti-Social because it lays outside of societal norms; this in itself is not necessarily a harmful thing and it is the appeal of the show. Rather, I would argue that “Coast to Coast AM” enables and promotes anti-social behavior, taking advantage of the callous anxiety of its listeners by assuring them they have no responsibility because they are the victims of a larger conspiracy. Perhaps this anti-social predisposition of its listeners is why it is broadcast at night; many night workers have their jobs because they are unable to hold jobs for long, a symptom of anti-social personality disorder. The show takes this disposition and runs with it by demonstrating Anti-Social behavior in their own right, using a lack of regard of the truth (another symptom of ASPD) to cast doubts in the minds of anyone who might listen. This poisonous rhetorical suggestion of truth acts as an opiate of apathy for its audience, so that the sociopathic indulgence of the listeners can take form; if anti-social behavior existed priorly, it was enabled if not promoted through the social support of “Coast to Coast AM”.



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