The Curious Case of “Coast-to-Coast AM”

Some time ago, eurobrat had a post about how the radio program Coast-to-Coast AM had transformed from a show about the paranormal to another conservative talk-show.  I wrote about it at the time, and the other day, for various reasons, I found myself reading up on the program again.

It seems there has been something of a falling-out between the creator and original host of Coast, Art Bell, and the current host, George Noory. Bell himself was upset with the show’s newly-political tone under the Noory regime, and subsequently there has been some back-and-forth and even some competition for the same guests between Noory’s Coast and Bell’s (now defunct) new program Dark Matter.

It’s a good story of the protege who has turned against his mentor–it’s practically the stuff of High Drama.  I don’t know how much stock to put in the Wikipedia articles on this (Noory’s Wiki page in particular does not follow the Wikipedia guidelines for how an article should read) but the Coast article claims:

The Commonsense show [Don’t know what that is–has Thomas Paine got a show now?–MM] has described Noory led Coast to Coast by the following: When Art Bell relinquished control of his program to corporate interests, Premier and ultimately Clear Channel, Coast to Coast was never the same as the show took a turn and became reflective of “the corporate message”

I have no idea if this accusation is true, but the program is definitely owned by Clear Channel Communications, which syndicates, through its subsidiary Premiere Networks, shows like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck.  (Interestingly, Clear Channel itself is owned by Bain Capital–Mitt Romney’s old company. Like any good Coast-to-Coast conspiracy theory, this one has a trail you can follow pretty far up!)

My point, though, has less to do with the political machinations, real or imaginary, that may or may not lie behind the change in the program’s focus.  Rather, I want to revisit eurobrat’s original point that Coast now “sounds like everything else out there”.

As I alluded to in my other post on this topic, “Diversifying” is generally considered a sound strategy, and yet the logic here seems to have been “homogenizing”.  But more and more, I realize how common this is, and to some extent this transformation does suggest Clear Channel is responsible, because it’s exactly the sort of thing a big company does when it takes ownership of something.  It’s sort of like what I wrote about regarding the saga of Electronic Arts and BioWare’s Mass Effect: they acquire something unique and successful just to turn it into a knock-off of something else.


  1. Thanks–some interesting background on the Coast to Coast AM story. I wonder to what degree the homogenizing strategy will work before it backfires. I would think it would be an advantage to present a unique and different point of view…but maybe radio listeners *like* to hear more of the same?

    1. I would certainly hope that it would be an advantage to be different, but maybe it’s just a matter of time slots… maybe the strategy is Beck, Limbaugh and Hannity in the morning, afternoon and night, and then reserve Coast-to-Coast for the insomniac conservatives. That way they are covered no matter what time they are listening.

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