George Noory: Out of this world



On any given night, university alum George Noory – host of the nation’s most popular overnight radio show – may touch on time travel, aliens, UFOs, vampires, 9-11 conspiracies and near-death experiences.

"A belief in a higher power and whether you tap into it is present in everything I do," said Noory, whose "Coast to Coast AM" show is heard on more than 550 radio stations and in every major-media market in America. He is, according to a 2010 profile in The Atlantic Magazine, "the voice in the darkness for millions of

Noory was born in Detroit and grew up in Dearborn Heights. As a boy he became fascinated with UFOs and other phenomena. He read a book that got him interested in what would become the subject matter of his show.

"It was ‘We Are Not Alone’ by Walter Sullivan," Noory said. He was 13 at the time.

Being a fan of the supernatural was not the only thing that made Noory stand out.

"My father was born in Egypt" and worked as an analyst at Ford Motor Company, said Noory. When it came time for college, Noory’s father had dreams for him.

"My father wanted me to be a dentist," Noory said.

But Noory wanted to go into broadcast and studied the subject at the University of Detroit, graduating in 1972.

"I wanted to cover strange things," Noory said. His interest in the supernatural drove him.

However, his choices did not always match those of his bosses in the news business.

"News wanted me to cover normal things," Noory said.

His entrée into broadcast journalism came through a friend.

"A friend worked at Channel 7," Noory said. "I filled in for two weeks."

As he worked, Noory grew increasingly influenced by a certain type of radio.

"I listened to talk radio," Noory said. He said he succeeded and failed a lot early in his career, rising to news director positions and winning top awards in regional TV and radio markets.

However, the golden opportunity came for him when he was in his forties and trying to figure out his life.

"I got a job in St. Louis," Noory said.

Noory hosted an overnight show that focused on the unexplained, and he became known as The Nighthawk.

In time, his St. Louis gig led to an opportunity to host "Coast to Coast AM," which had been made famous by radio legend Art Bell.

When Bell retired, Noory took over the show permanently. In the years since, its audience has grown.

"I am an extremely spiritual person," Noory said. "I may not be a proponent of organized religion, though."

Noory’s style contrasts the loud, more raucous tone of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, who are on the same Premiere Radio Networks as Noory. (In Detroit, Noory can be heard on WYXT 1270 AM from 1 to 6 a.m.)

Noory describes his political views as Libertarian.

"I just want the government to tell people the truth," Noory said. "If you give money out, help the people."

Noory’s national profile has helped him launch several books, including "Talking to the Dead," which was released last month and co-authored with Rosemary Ellen Guilley.

His success has impressed many who knew Noory back in his days on campus.

John Smyntek, also a 1972 graduate, become an editor with the Detroit Free Press and covered the radio industry for many years. He has followed Noory’s career.

"George broadened the show to discuss science (especially the shrinking space program, natural phenomena, like earthquakes and meteors ,and, of course, crop circles) and government secrecy and conspiracy theories and theoreticians," said Smyntek.

He said those topics separate him from the usual political talk radio hosts – and have helped him find a massive audience.

Writing in The Atlantic, author Timothy Lavin said Noory "has perfected a charged and conspiratorial worldview that now pervades American media."

He wrote, "It’s quite possibly the oddest show ever to cross our airwaves. And it may change the radio business forever."