; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Saturday, March 11, 2023



By Raymond A. Keller, Ph.D., a.k.a. “Cosmic Ray,” the author of the international awards-winning Venus Rising Series, published by Headline Books and available on Amazon.com, while supplies last.

Venus Rising: A Concise History of the Second Planet

Final Countdown: Rockets to Venus

The Vast Venus Conspiracy

Lady Columba Venus Revelations

Flying Saucers and the Venus Legacy

From the Long John Nebel Papers at Syracuse University (New York):  Southern California contactee George Adamski (L) being interviewed by radio personality Long John Nebel (R).  Adamski was a frequent guest on Long John Nebel’s “Party Line” radio talk program on New York City’s WOR at 710 on the AM dial.

Long John Nebel Revives Radio 

In 1954 radio was in competition with the burgeoning media of television for the capture of ever-bigger audiences.  It looked like radio was losing.  But then the owner of an auction barn in New Jersey, the 43-year-old, lean and lanky John Zimmerman (1911-1978), a.k.a. “Long John Nebel,” approached the manager of the powerful 50,000 watts WOR (710 AM) Class A, a clear-channel radio station in New York City with the idea of a call-in talk show centered on popular paranormal subjects, but particularly the ever-elusive flying saucers that everyone had been reporting over North American skies since 1947.   This was three years before the Soviets launched their first Sputnik satellite.  Nevertheless, WOR’s powerful signal extended to 32 states and several eastern Canadian provinces. 

The hierarchy at WOR carefully considered the idea.  They felt they had nothing to lose as their scheduled format offered nothing to distinguish itself from the offerings of the many other radio stations in the New York City market.  To give Nebel a try-out with such a program, they placed it in the late-night time slot of midnight to 5:30 a.m. and called it the “Party Line,” thereby catching all of the “night owls,” insomniacs, and truck drivers.  The station manager’s betting on Long John Nebel paid off handsomely.  By the beginning of 1958, Long John’s aptly-named Party Line program had long since rocketed to the top of the ratings.  Long John Nebel had become the nation’s hottest personality and ruler of the talk airwaves, without competition since its start four years earlier. 

Argosy Magazine Correspondent

It was in early 1958 that Long John Nebel permitted a correspondent from Argosy, a men’s magazine, also headquartered in New York City, to visit the WOR broadcast studio in downtown New York City one night to observe the production of the Party Line program in the process of researching an article about the increasing popularity of the show and growing fascination with the topics being discussed nightly.   

The correspondent, Herbert Bailey, noted, “I was in WOR’s studio being amazed by the incredible goings-on that developed minute by minute.  He (Long John Nebel) told his radio listeners, ‘Argosy magazine isn’t a puff sheet.  By that, I mean Bailey, who is writing a story about me and my show, isn’t going to write a glowing account of Long John Nebel and his Party Line.   He isn’t going to say I’m a great guy and that Party Line is the very end when it comes to radio shows.  He doesn’t write publicity releases; and Argosy isn’t the type of magazine that would print them, anyway.  He’s a pretty cynical guy; and I expect to be slammed, but plenty.’

“Well, cynical or no, I was jolted.  It happened that I was just thinking of a suitable, glowing, and non-cynical adjective to describe Long John’s show.  And now I can’t afford to think of it or write it.  I’ll have to disregard my personal opinion of his show and write a hard-boiled, tongue-in-cheek piece.  I can’t afford to let Long John down.  So, I’ll describe the gangling, twangy-voiced gent who was characterized in Argosy in 1951 (when Long John Nebel was just a salesman and not on the radio) as the ‘man who can sell anything;’ and I’ll add a phrase, ‘but buys almost nothing.’  John, having sold such diverse products as firecrackers, ‘mind readings,’ and orange squeezers is not a man who is easily convinced by a slick-tongued tale.  His favorite expression, both on the radio and off, is, ‘I won’t buy that.’  And yet, by a seeming paradox, he has built a phenomenally successful show on what most people would term, ‘tall tales.’” 

Bailey talked to many people before showing up at the WOR studio and discovered that Long John Nebel was the most talked-about personality on radio.  He felt that Long John’s idea of a talk show featuring paranormal topics, especially flying saucers, was truly original.  It seemed as though the Party Line program had no taboos, except those relating to obscenity and good taste, at that point in time.  His growing audience never tired of hearing about these supernatural themes and continually demanded more of the same.  For WOR’s board of directors and New York’s advertisement-generating community on Madison Avenue, Long John Nebel turned out to be the golden goose that just kept giving.

Flying Saucers Are a Media Sensation

Long John Nebel always kept his fingers on the pulse of the American people and knew that almost everyone was wondering about those enigmatic flying saucers.  Most of the callers to his Party Line program insisted that the United States government was ignoring or suppressing information about aerial phenomena witnessed by thousands of people since the dawn of the Age of Flying Saucers, with the sighting of nine disc-shaped objects flying in formation over Mt. Rainier in Washington State by the civilian pilot Kenneth Arnold back on 24 June 1947.  These same callers firmly believed that people from other planets were visiting the Earth in these flying saucers, and Long John had to admit that perhaps they had a genuine point since the American and Soviet governments were then soberly announcing plans to begin massive programs for the exploration of the Moon and eventually the neighboring planets of Venus and Mars.  Somehow the ideas expressed on the Party Line in 1958 did not seem as crackpot as they did before October 1957, in the pre-Sputnik era.  

Close Encounters

Sometimes one flying saucer encounter will stand out above the rest, and therefore deserves a show all of its own.  One such case involved an Illinois state police officer, Lieutenant John Henry from the city of Champaign, Illinois, who confirmed reports from two highway patrolmen of an encounter with a low-hovering “flying saucer” that caused their car’s radio to go dead.  Besides this reported electromagnetic effect, the report itself was corroborated by scores of Illinois residents who also witnessed the same object at the same, albeit from a more distant perspective.  

But when it came to shows about flying saucers on the Party Line, not only did Long John invite people who had witnessed these mysterious objects, but also those who claim to have experienced contact with the occupants of these strange craft.  These were known as the “contactees;” and there were some that even went so far as to assert that they had taken short jaunts to the Moon, Venus, and Mars.  These were not claiming to have been abducted, as many in the contemporary time, but say they took these special trips at the friendly invitation of our brothers and sisters from other planets.  On the Party Line, the contactees would go into great detail in describing their experiences with the space people.  Unlike George Noory of today on his Coast-to-Coast A.M. radio show, Long John Nebel proved to be a tough interrogator of the contactees.  And he wasn’t alone.  Other specialists from many fields would also take turns on the air, as members of a panel, in asking hard questions to all of Long John’s guests.


(Editor’s Note:  Keep checking this website for Part II in this series, where Cosmic Ray looks at some of the special topics discussed on the Party Line in addition to the program’s unique format.  - Lon)


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Have you had a sighting of a winged humanoid or huge bat-like creature in the Chicago, Illinois metro area / Lake Michigan region? The entity has also been referred to as the 'Chicago Mothman', 'Chicago Owlman' & 'O'Hare Mothman' or 'O'Hare Batman.' - Chicago / Lake Michigan Winged Humanoid Regional Interactive Map - Please feel free to contact me at lonstrickler@phantomsandmonsters.com - your anonymity is guaranteed. Our investigative group is conducting a serious examination of his phenomenon. We are merely seeking the truth and wish to determine what eyewitnesses have been encountering. Your cooperation is truly appreciated.





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