I’ve always had sleep problems. I’ve used a CPAP machine for eight years for sleep apnea, and I do sleep better than I did years ago. But I still wake up almost every night in the wee hours, 2 or 3AM. For a long time, I’ve kept a radio by the bed with a pillow speaker, and when I would wake up I’d listen to Art Bell and Coast To Coast AM. If I just laid there with no radio, I’d start thinking about work stuff, or garden stuff, or whatever, and I would find myself waking up. But listening to Coast To Coast AM, with all the loonies talking about UFOs and alien visitors and power crystals and government conspiracies and Atlantis – I could listen to that and my brain wouldn’t engage, and I would drift off back to sleep. That worked for many years. I became knowledgeable about Mel’s Hole, and the Zetans, and shadow people, and chupacabra, and lost cities on Mars, and many, many other things. I followed Art Bell through his many personal travails, and stayed with George Noury when he took over the show a few years ago.
Then earlier this year, my local public radio station began carrying BBC World Service every night from 11PM until 5AM. I started listening to this on those occasions when the Coast To Coast topic was too absurd. Then I started listening to BBC even sometimes when the Coast To Coast topic wasn’t so absurd (not so absurd within the context of Coast To Coast, anyway, You don’t tune in to C2C expecting a rational discussion of everyday reality). But it still just served the purpose of letting me drift back off to sleep. Until I had listened long enough to start being familiar with the programming on BBC World Service. Then I found myself actually paying attention to the reports, and looking forward to particular programmes (to use the British spelling): “The Strand”; “World Briefing”; and my favorite, “From Our Own Correspondent”. So now I sometimes find myself laying awake for two hours listening to the BBC, and I’m getting some great, non-US perspectives on things. But I need to sleep!