Jim Bohannon, fixture of late-night radio, dies at 78

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Jim Bohannon, a fixture of discuss radio who supplied amiable companionship to tens of millions of night time owls, chatting up superstar friends and callers of all stripes throughout his many years in nationwide syndication, died Nov. 12 at a hospice facility in Seneca, S.C. He was 78.

The trigger was esophageal most cancers, stated his spouse, Annabelle Bohannon.

Mr. Bohannon bought his begin greater than half a century in the past as a neighborhood radio host in Washington. However he was finest identified for “The Jim Bohannon Present,” a late-night program that aired for the previous 29 years on greater than 500 radio stations throughout the nation.

He was by all accounts an outlier within the talk-radio style, a self-described “militant average” who provided audiences a respite from the frothing political commentary that more and more appeared to dominate the airwaves.

“If there’s a massive story within the information, I’ll discuss it,” Mr. Bohannon as soon as advised a reporter for the Rolla Each day Information in his house state of Missouri. “However I’m not going to beat it to loss of life and scream at you. I’m not a political fireball like Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity. I can’t get that indignant on a regular basis.”

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Mr. Bohannon’s present, which was distributed by Westwood One, aired Monday by way of Friday from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Japanese time. The present was so well-liked that it drew politicians, athletes, entertainers and different celebrities prepared to forgo sleep for the prospect to achieve Mr. Bohannon’s viewers.

The present was a mixture of present affairs, popular culture and human-interest tales. An inveterate raconteur, Mr. Bohannon famous with satisfaction that he as soon as crammed an hour discussing whether or not bathroom paper ought to grasp over the entrance of the roll or from the again. He devoted massive parts of his program to calls from listeners, who knew “Jimbo” as a affected person, unjudging companion within the loneliness of the night time.

“He was a grasp storyteller,” stated Tom Taylor, a journalist who lined the radio business for 30 years, together with as editor of the e-newsletter Inside Radio. “In distinction to another folks on the air … he didn’t wish to increase your blood strain. He needed to make you smile and snigger.”

Mr. Bohannon didn’t totally embrace the conspiracy theories and mysteries that different all-night talkers explored as they dedicated infinite hours to the intricacies of the debates surrounding the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy or eyewitness accounts of UFO journey. Mr. Bohannon was extra of a skeptic on such issues.

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However neither was he a straight-ahead superstar interviewer like Larry King, whose late-night time slot he inherited in 1993 when King shifted his consideration from radio to his tv discuss present on CNN. Quite, Mr. Bohannon’s program was about giving voice to the good wash of People, all taken on air, unscreened and uncensored.

Their feedback — whether or not fringe views in regards to the military-industrial advanced or rants about why ladies’s restrooms don’t have urinals — reached nationwide audiences, with solely Mr. Bohannon’s finger on the kill button standing between a caller and the ears of many hundreds of listeners.

“Lots of uninhibited expression occurred within the wee hours of the night time, and he responded extraordinarily properly to all views, which I believe was his nice expertise,” stated Michael C. Keith, the creator of the guide “Sounds within the Darkish: All-Night time Radio in American Life.”

“He didn’t journey any political monitor as nearly all of radio talkmeisters did and do,” Keith continued. “Individuals knew they weren’t going to listen to political proselytizing.”

In his interactions with friends and callers, Mr. Bohannon cultivated a tone that he described as “someplace between NPR and verbal mud wrestling.”

“There are far too many on this enterprise for whom confrontation is the one concept,” Mr. Bohannon advised Newsday in 1995. “They’d get right into a nose-to-nose screaming match with Mom Teresa. … Confrontation is just not my first alternative, ever. In fact, generally you’ll have a visitor who depends on obfuscation. And some have tried to bully me alone present; in that case, you must abdicate management or knock a head or two.”

Within the latter years of his profession, Mr. Bohannon moved rightward in his politics and expressed help for President Donald Trump, whom he credited with creating “the most well liked financial system we’ve ever had” and different accomplishments that Mr. Bohannon stated ought to have assured Trump a landslide reelection victory in 2020.

However he faulted Trump for his “undisciplined mouth” and stated that whereas he opposed the president’s impeachment, he thought of Trump’s rhetoric partially accountable for precipitating the assault on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6, 2021.

“Had been Trump’s phrases inflammatory? Sure,” Mr. Bohannon advised the the Journal, of Seneca, shortly after the assault. “It could be as for those who walked as much as your teenage son and also you stated, ‘Right here’s a bottle of whiskey and the automotive keys. Please drive rigorously.’ ”

“I’m not sorry he’s leaving,” Mr. Bohannon added. “He’s not an indispensable man. Others can choose up the banner.”

James Everett Bohannon was born in Corvallis, Ore., on Jan. 7, 1944. His father was a salesman, and his mom was a hospital laboratory technician.

Mr. Bohannon grew up in Lebanon, Mo., the place he bought his first radio job in highschool, working for a greenback an hour as what he described as an “all-purpose announcer.” He gained extra radio expertise as a pupil at what’s now Missouri State College in Springfield however left earlier than graduating for Military service in Vietnam.

Upon his return, he was stationed at Vint Hill Farms Station, a base in Fauquier County, Va., not removed from Washington, the place his profession took off.

Mr. Bohannon was heard on Washington-area stations together with WGAY, WTOP and WRC, generally broadcasting along with his then-wife, Camille Bohannon, who glided by Laura Walters on air at WTOP.

He was a morning information anchor at WTOP and was on the mic when an armed group of Hanafi Muslims laid siege to a number of buildings in Washington in March 1977, taking 149 hostages, killing a reporter, and wounding then-Metropolis Councilmember Marion Barry Jr. A safety guard died days later of a coronary heart assault. Mr. Bohannon anchored for 21 consecutive hours through the ordeal.

At one level, he “made reference to [the assailants] as ‘apparently a Black Muslim group,’ not realizing that the time period ‘Black Muslims’ referred to the primary physique of Black Muslims who have been in literal conflict with the Hanafi Muslim sect,” Mr. Bohannon recounted to WTOP years later. Mr. Bohannon apologized after a frontrunner of the gunmen phoned the station and threatened to, “as he put it, begin reducing off heads, placing them in paper luggage, and tossing them out the window,” Mr. Bohannon stated, if the radio host didn’t specific regret.

Mr. Bohannon did a stint within the early Eighties as a morning anchor in Chicago, additionally working as a freelancer reporter for CNN, earlier than he returned to the Washington space in 1983 to hitch Mutual Community, which later grew to become Westwood One. He was a daily fill-in host on King’s late-night radio present earlier than taking up the time slot.

Along with his late-night present, Mr. Bohannon hosted the morning newsmagazine “America within the Morning.”

Mr. Bohannon was inducted into the Radio Corridor of Fame in 2003 and the Nationwide Affiliation of Broadcasters’ Broadcasting Corridor of Fame in 2022. He retired from his internet hosting duties final month and was succeeded on air by Wealthy Valdes.

Mr. Bohannon’s marriage to the previous Camille Skora led to divorce.

Survivors embrace his spouse of 24 years, the previous Annabelle Arnold, of Westminster S.C., and a stepdaughter, Elizabeth Smith of Janesville, Wis.

For all his love of the talk-radio format, Mr. Bohannon expressed disappointment over the diminishment of in-person connection, for which he stated radio at occasions appeared to serve as an alternative.

“One factor I’ve discovered,” he as soon as advised the St. Louis Put up-Dispatch, “is that there are lots of lonely folks on the market craving the chance to speak with different people.”

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