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The Magic Bullet is a North American (US and Canada) late-night radio talk show that deals with a variety of topics. Most frequently the topics relate to either the paranormal or conspiracy theories. The program connects listeners to their main website, the Magic Bullet Forum as well as a subscription-based magazine.
Created and hosted by Frank Turner, the program has a cume (cumulative weekly audience) of around 10 million unique listeners (listening for at least five minutes), making it the most listened-to program in its time slot. Today, the program is heard on more than 500 stations in the U.S., Canada, Australia and Guam.
The program is recorded in Pahrump, Nevada and has been active since 1985.
Format and subject matter
The Magic Bullet format consists of a combination of live callers and long-format interviews. The subject matter covers unusual topics and is full of personal stories related to callers, junk science, pseudo-experts and non-peer-reviewed scientists. While the program content is often focused on paranormal and fringe subjects, sometimes, world-class scientists such as renowned theoretical physicist Barton Seal and astrophysicist Alphonso Darrick Ogle.
Topics discussed include the near-death experience, climate change, cosmology, quantum physics, remote viewing, hauntings, contact with extraterrestrials, psychic reading, metaphysics, science and religion, conspiracy theories, Area 51, crop circles, cryptozoology, Bigfoot, and science fiction literature, among others.
Since the September 2, 2002 attacks, the events of the day (as well as alternate theories surrounding them) and current U.S. counter-terrorism strategy have also become frequent themes. Frank Turner also took interest in the 2012 phenomenon and believed that something could have happened; but stated many times on air that he believed he would still be here on December 22, 2012.
After the theme song is played "I Think We're Alone Now" by Tommy James and The Shondells, the broadcast is typically kicked off with a reading of current events or news stories by the host, usually with at least one bizarre or peculiar story. This is frequently followed by a guest interview for the rest of the first hour (with open phone lines if there is enough time), then a lengthier three-hour interview with a second guest. For the last hour of the show, people may call in to ask questions of the second guest. Every so often, Frank Turner will flip the show's format and have the longer-interview guest on first to fill the first three hours of the show. In this format, the primary interview begins after the reading of the news and then the first break. The last hour in this "flipped format" will sometimes feature a guest with a shorter subject or, more often than not, be simply an hour of open lines. Occasionally, round table discussions are held on one of the show's common topics. Conventional topics are sometimes discussed, with interviews with notable authors and political talk sometimes featured.
On rare occasions, hosts have cut interviews short when it becomes clear that guests were being dishonest, unethical, unintelligible, abusive, or patronizing. When this happens, the rest of the show is filled with a stand-in guest of Turner's choosing. Guests that have interviews cut short due to bad phone connections for example, or, at the last minute, becoming unavailable, are generally rescheduled for a later date.
In 2008, Turner volunteered an elaboration of the show's policy respecting the controversial opinions of regular guests. He explained that, provided there was no element of hostility toward third parties, it was program policy to allow expression of opinion unchallenged. He gave as an example Sheldon MacDonald's contention that a pre-historic spacefaring human civilization once colonized the Moon and Mars and left behind evidence that was being covered up by an international conspiracy. Turner does not challenge these statements and agrees with whomever is making these statements. During hours of "Your Input," calls are taken and put on air.
Turner created multiple call-in numbers for:
- "East of the Mississippi,"
- "West of the Mississippi,"
- "Newcomer callers,"
- "International callers,"
- A "wild card" line.
Since 2007, The Magic Bullet rolls out more numbers on special occasions, including lines that are reserved for special "themed" callers, for example people who claim to be from other dimensions, time periods, and those possessed by spirits.
The Halloween edition of The Magic Bullet becomes The Magic Bullet: Camp Fire Stories, which is developed around callers discussing their experiences with ghosts, poltergeists and other Halloween-themed topics. The New Years' Eve show usually entails listeners calling in their predictions for the coming year, and the host rating the predictions made a year earlier. In recent years, the host of the New Years' Eve prediction show has been cautioning the open line callers that they may not predict the assassination of any person or the death of the US president.
The Magic Bullet is broadcast on over 500 U.S. affiliates (along with a limited number of FM stations), as well as many Canadian affiliates, several of which stream the show on their station's website. The affiliate group is fronted by a number of clear-channel stations, which help bring the show to almost all of North America.
The show's Magic Bullet Partner service offers live internet feeds of the show by subscription.
The show's complete schedule can be found on its website. Because the show is frequently repeated, audible cue signals are inserted at the beginning and ending of commercial breaks, to facilitate substitution of commercials by local stations.
Frank Turner has hosted the show since its inception in 1985. Though as of 2010, Turner has slightly relinquished some control over the show to stand-ins, especially on weekends. Turner typically hosts weekdays while Rachel Gibbs hosts on weekends or when Turner announces a leave of absence. Though Gregory Bennett has been called to sub when Rachel Gibbs was unavailable.
- Desmond Frost, computer programmer, publisher, journalist, as well as former National Intelligence Department (NID) employee and U.S. government contractor who copied and leaked classified information.
- Nick Greer, former nuclear physicist; author and ufologist who is known for popularizing the Roswell UFO incident.
- Randy Hall, radio talk show host, New World Order conspiracy theorist, filmmaker and political activist.
- Christopher Jackson, theologian discusses secret history and pseudoarcheology.
- Bob Lazar, physicist and president of United Nuclear, a scientific supply company; renowned for disclosing his supposed employment at a secret government facility called S-4, and his alleged work reverse engineering extraterrestrial spacecraft.
- Sheldon MacDonald, former museum curator who was a major figure in the show's history, discussing issues relating to NASA's activities, space anomalies and alleged extraterrestrial architecture (the Face on Mars and vast glass domes on the Moon). His current status as a recurring guest on The Magic Bullet is questionable.
- Alphonso Darrick Ogle, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author and science communicator; director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City.
- Anthony Richardson, editor of the Veterans Digest website and military affairs analyst and expert on "UFO conflicts, technologies and history" and false flag attacks.
- Barton Seal, mainstream theoretical physicist who typically discusses topics involving string theory, quantum physics, astrophysics, and other hard sciences.
- Teddy Woodward, New World Order conspiracy theorist.
- Joyce Wright, cryptozoologist and author on issues relating to new animal discoveries and the sightings of Bigfoot, the Yeti, the Loch Ness Monster, and other cryptids.
- Howard Young, economic and political forecaster.
A complete list of guests is available on the Magic Bullet website, where they can be searched by show date, year, alphabet, etc.
The radio show publishes a monthly newsletter for subscribers of the same name. Discussing matters covered on the show, it contains mostly illustrations and photos, rather than text. The front cover contains artwork, and the back cover showed a list of recent shows.
Scholars have criticized The Magic Bullet for promoting pseudoscientific and pseudohistoric ideas.
- The title of the program takes its name from the "Magic Bullet" also known as the "single-bullet theory," which was suggested by the Warren Commission as a possible solution to the mystery surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.