This Week’s Best Profile

I haven’t quite finished this piece on late-night radio host George Noory, but I’m enjoying it enough to point you to it, here:

very night, when most of the world has drifted into unconsciousness, some 30 percent of the American population stays awake. They’re truckers, insomniacs, night-shift workers, or just people who like to stay up late. They tend to adhere to a different set of norms. For one thing, in an age of digital distraction, they connect with enthusiasm to a decidedly analog device: they listen to the radio for longer periods, with greater attention, and with greater loyalty than do audiences at any other time of the day. They tend to listen alone—alone in bed, alone on a highway, alone in the world—and find that a voice in the darkness offers a bond with a wider community. Perhaps you’re one of them. Or perhaps, if you’ve ever driven across country in the dark, or flipped on the radio because you couldn’t sleep, you know the feeling.You might also have caught a glimpse into one of the odder realms of modern media. Lately, night people listen, in huge numbers, to a syndicated program called Coast to Coast AM with George Noory. It’s by far the most popular overnight show in the country. And it’s probably the most successful program of its kind ever aired. But just what kind of program it is, no one can quite say. Its topical breadth alone defies categorization: aliens, time travel, 9/11 conspiracies, suspicious murders, vampires, mediated telepathy, birds of unusual size. Shadow People seem to show up a lot. Every evening, Coast to Coast offers a running commentary on what keeps people awake, in fear or fascination, through what Keats called the “unslumbrous night.”

Read the rest of the article, and if your mind wasn’t already turned to it, here’s David Foster Wallace in the same magazine five years ago.

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