Monday, March 3, 2008

And the Name is. . .Jim Bohannon

When the subject of UFOs is high on the minds of radio broadcasters who deal with that and other unusual topics on a regular basis, we rather expect a reasonable treatment of the issue. Hosts from the distant past whose shows were popular in the USA, such as Long John Nebel, Frank Edwards, Jerry Williams and Larry Glick were familiar enough with UFO incidents to discuss the cases with integrity, not ridicule.

I remember, for example, when young Australian pilot Frederick Valentich mysteriously disappeared during a solo evening UFO encounter over open waters years ago. If you don't know about this case, be sure to look it up via a reliable web source, because this chilling encounter involves the pilot's final words in a radio transmission and the unexplained metallic scraping sounds heard just before he and his craft seemingly dropped out of existence. Within days of this internationally headlined incident, I was fortunate to hear the late talk show host Larry Glick of WBZ in Boston interviewing an Australian journalist who remained close to the story. Glick, always open to humor on his show, handled this important conversation with the sobriety and concern it deserved.

These days, except for the occasional Peter Jennings, or even George Noory or Art Bell, how many broadcasters can even mouth the term, "UFO" without either making a joke or offering some almost apologetic comment for bringing the subject up? Recently, I became familiar with yet another instance where a broadcast journalist whose UFO reporting gained high audience interest was nonetheless told by management not to do any more UFO reporting -- and this sort of thing happens frequently in the United States (in fact, you may recall the well-publicized Texas UFO sightings of a few days ago and the newspaper reporter who lost her job after writing about them -- of course, there was no connection between the two events. . .wink. . .wink).

In consideration of this, it truly is a pleasure to find those rare national talk show hosts who generally tackle politics and anything but UFOs who, nonetheless, are willing to give the subject a fair shake. That's why I think back fondly to 1994, when Mutual Broadcasting's Jim Bohannon executed a fair and informative interview with veteran UFO researcher and former NICAP assistant director Richard Hall. After I wrote and thanked Bohannon for that good show, he kindly surprised me with an autographed photo (see) and thanked me for some information I included.

Bohannon's evening radio talk show -- which I have not heard in years (no longer available in my area, thanks to conglomerate radio coming to town and putting the "R" in the ruination of broadcasting's fine art), though I'm aware that it continues -- succeeded radio's coveted "Larry King Show" when King left for higher stakes in TV. Vietnam veteran Bohannon turned out a great show during the years when I listened nightly, and I've no reason to believe his evening sessions are less enjoyable and informative now. Unheard, but not forgotten!

In the play, "My Fair Lady" Professor Henry Higgins asks, why can't a woman be more like a man? My own question would be, why can't more talk show hosts be like Jim Bohannon?