Conspiracy theories propel AM radio show into Top 10

By | November 15, 2006

Conspiracy theories propel AM radio show into Top 10

There was a time when “Coast to Coast AM,” the late-night syndicated talk radio show dedicated to paranormal activities and political conspiracies, didn’t get much respect.

“At one point it was, ‘Oh, that strange show about weird paranormal things?’ ” said George Noory, who has hosted the program on weeknights from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. PST full time since 2003.

That all changed when millions from the mainstream met up with the after-midnight fringe folks to make “Coast to Coast AM” a top-rated radio show.

The show that gives self-described vampires a place to vent on its Friday night Wild Card line is the same one that was taking calls about Sept. 11 conspiracy theories just two weeks after the terrorist attacks. And “Coast to Coast AM,” which airs in the Bay Area on KSFO 560 AM, is the same show that can now reach upward of 3 million listeners through 500 stations each week, according to Premiere Radio Networks, the company that syndicates the show.

“There’s absolutely a growing conspiracy climate,” said Noory, explaining the phenomenon of numbers typically unheard of for that time slot. “People are tired of being misled and confused from taking information directly from a government official. After a while, it becomes almost like a pressure cooker that needs to let off steam.”

That conspiracy theories have joined the mainstream is an extraordinary phenomenon in itself, according to Michael Barkun, a political science professor at Syracuse University and author of “A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America.”

“These kinds of ideas that used to be really out on the fringe and tucked away in a subterranean subculture are now a part of pop culture,” said Barkun? …Barkun also credits the Internet, which eliminates a gatekeeper, as an ideal medium to grow a culture of conspiracy. – sfgate

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