If you’re working the night shift, or otherwise up when you don’t want to be, a voice in the night can feel like a life line; a reminder that you’re not alone, that the world is, in fact, still spinning. A lot of people find comfort in podcasts in the middle of the night – listening to stories, or conversations, they’re comforted by the voices of other humans. There’s tv and movies, and preprogrammed radio. But there’s really nothing else like late night call in shows on the radio – other humans, in real time, just chatting. You’re separated by space, but they’re there with you, in your car, your workplace, anywhere the radio waves can reach you.
In the early 1980’s commercial radio stations started realizing that there was a market for late night talk programming. In the words of one executive at WABC they were learning they were “not just a companion to old people and shut-ins”. And they were learning that the more outlandish and controversial the topics and conversations, the more listeners they got. More ears equals more advertisers.
Some shows operate based on a totally different premise. Rather then shocking or titillating the night owls, insomniacs and night shift workers, their goal is to bring comfort and normalcy to the hours that can feel like anything but comforting or normal.