home esoterica Original binnallofamerica.com Audio the United States of Esoterica merchandise contact

Follow BoA on Twitter

Bookmark and Share

BOA : Audio


Paul Bannister

(2 Hours, 16 Minutes)

Listen Now

Play Now with Flash Streaming Audio
Download MP3
(Full Show MP3 : 2 Hours, 16 Minutes)
(Split into 2 parts for easier download)
(MP3 A : 70 minutes)
(MP3 B : 66 minutes)


Listening Instructions

Download MP3 : PC Users : right-click the above links and "Save target as ..." Mac users : press "control-click" and choose "Download link to Disc".
Podcast : URL is HERE
*Add that URL to your podcast receiving software and you will be subscribed to BoA Audio.
Help : Contact binnall if you have any technical problems. As always, feedback on the interviews is appreciated.
Help Support BoA,
Make a Donation:

BoA:Audio goes behind the scenes at the National Enquirer with Paul Bannister, author of Tabloid Man & the Baffling Chair of Death. Bannister, formerly the Enquirer's chief paranormal reporter in the 1970's, pulls the curtain back on the notorious tabloid, revealing the amazing amount of money the paper spent on stories, the bizarre eccentricities of its owner George Pope, and the unique editorial style behind the Enquirer's famous articles. Along the way, we'll hear about his run-in with Sally Field, his investigations into psychometry and remote viewing, an EVP he inadvertently captured during an interview, and tons more remarkable stories. Plus, we'll reflect of the evolution and downfall of the tabloid industry as the mainstream media has become more and more like the Enquirer of old.

It's a truly fascinating, revelatory, and rare glimpse at a long lost era in journalism with Paul Bannister, a man who was in the trenches and on the road uncovering a world of amazing stories.

Full Preview: We kick things off with the standard bio / background on Paul Bannister, finding out how his writing career in the UK led him to Florida in the 1970's as a writer for the National Enquirer. Along the way, Paul details the 'Baffling Chair of Death' which was his first story for the Enquirer and, eventually, became the subtitle for the book. We then take a look behind the curtain at the National Enquirer in the 1970's, which was run by an eccentric publisher named Gene Pope. Paul provides some background on Gene Pope and the evolution of the Enquirer as well as a look at how the tabloid was run during its glory days.

Paul also details the adversarial style of publishing at the Enquirer where teams of reporters would compete not only for stories but also for their very jobs. Along those lines, Paul shares the story of how Gene Pope 'surprised' some of the Enquirer staffers when the paper moved from New York to Florida. Paul also reflects on the staggering amount of money spent by the Enquirer at the time, which dwarfed the resources of the mainstream media. Paul also talks about the evolution in perception for the Enquirer and how much of that was the result of Hollywood 'turning on' the paper.

Looking at some of the eccentricities and lavish spending of Enquirer publisher Gene Pope, we hear the story of one reporter's assignment to find 'Utopia,' which saw him sent around the world looking for the perfect location. We also hear the story of Pope's obsession with having the nation's largest Christmas tree and the amazing lengths he'd go to acquire each year's tree. This leads to some talk about the annual Christmas decorations at the Enquirer offices, which drew over 4 million visitors over the years.

We then talk about the unique editorial methods at the Enquirer, where the final story absolutely had to match the original pitch and the actual stories were written by re-writers instead of the original reporters, who merely compiled massive files of facts. Paul also details the ironic pursuit of accuracy at the Enquirer and how elaborate that goal was. We then find out how Paul was also tasked with celebrity-based and other stories that went beyond the paranormal. We have Paul theorize on why the paper seemed to acquire such a negative reputation, despite the money spent on the reporting.

Based on Paul's history with the Enquirer and Gene Pope, we get his thoughts on the theories that the paper and Pope were actually working at the behest of the CIA. This leads to some discussion on how the UFO stories reported by the Enquirer were actually pretty well researched and Paul shares the UFO story that Edgar Mitchell shared with him. This segues into some discussion of Paul's trip to Honduras to cover the devastation of Hurricane Fifi and how, remarkably, only one story from his lengthy trip ended up in the paper.

Staying within the realm of the behind-the-scenes at the Enquirer, we find out about Paul's personal interaction with Gene Pope over the years. Along the way, Paul tells the story of how he impersonated a home buyer to Sally Field, which led to the actress' irate reaction when she realized he was with the Enquirer. Continuing with the celebrity stories, we find out about the amazing lengths the paper went to when covering the deaths of Elvis and Bing Crosby.

Looking at some of the paranormal stories covered by Paul over the years, we reflect on how these were, despite the Enquirer's reputation, very serious esoteric tales, such as the emergence of Remote Viewing at SRI. Getting meta on reporting, we muse about how engaging someone and asking them about their lives can often lead to remarkable insights on even mundane subjects. Paul also shares the strange story of how he may have been briefly 'warned' by a witch doctor whom he had previously dismissed.

Jumping ahead to some aspects of modern tabloids, we find out about how they conjure up their often outrageous political stories. Specifically, Paul talks about his investigation into Barack Obama and how Obama had apparently 'scrubbed' his entire background. Paul speculates on what Obama may actually be trying to keep secret from the world. Additionally, Paul reveals that the tabloids uncovered a real scandal surrounding John McCain but decided not to run with it.

Next we examine the irony of how the contemporary media has adopted much of the old Enquirer obsessions with celebrity gossip and worship. This also leads to the observation of how Hollywood and the media is no longer adversarial like the Enquirer and much more calculated. He reflects on how 'celebrity television' like Entertainment Tonight have also hurt the tabloids. Considering all the celebrities that Paul has met and reported on, he reveals his favorite of all the subjects he covered.

Getting back to some of the paranormal tales covered in the book, we have Paul detail the story of pychometrist Howard Starkel and how he demonstrated his amazing abilities using artifacts from Custer's Last Stand. In light of all of Paul's paranormal stories, we find out if he had an interest in the paranormal when he was growing up and he also shares his own ghost encounter that he had a child. Despite reporting on some amazing stories, Paul shares the more outrageous, clearly fake, tales he investigated. We also find out how the Enquirer reacted when he found out that stories were fake.

Paul then shares the story of how he apparently inadvertently captured an EVP during a phone interview with a person living in a haunted house and we play the EVP clip for the BoA:Audio listeners to enjoy. We then look at some of the major stories broken by the Enquirer, which turned out to be eventually accepted as true by the mainstream media, as well as one story that the paper did not follow up on and turned out to be a major historical event. Looking at contemporary times, we hear about the Anthrax attack on the National Enquirer offices and how a massive library of images and stories were deemed contaminated and destroyed.

Heading towards the close, we get some insight from Paul on the infamous Weekly World News and how it began and evolved. Wrapping up the chronology of the National Enquirer, Paul reflects on the death of Gene Pope, the power struggle that emerged after he died, and the editorial changes that happened. Closing out our discussion on the contemporary tabloids, Paul reveals the secret behind the "last days" stories that seem to constantly be featured on the cover. Wrapping things up, we find out where folks can get a copy of Tabloid Man and what Paul has planned for the future.

Paul Bannister Bio

Englishman Paul Bannister was a national newspaper reporter in Britain, where he worked for the Daily Mail, the Sun, and the BBC, among others. He was recruited by the National Enquirer, where he became senior reporter and the tabloid's top specialist in tales of the psychic, a post that took him to about 40 countries to interview all kinds of people, from a spirit healer in Iceland to a witch doctor in Brazil.

On assignment, Bannister has been menaced by a ghost, shot at by a gunman, endangered by Michael Jackson, booted by Gidget, spat on by a kangaroo and threatened by a horde that includes actor Tony Curtis, footballer George Best, the French police, the Salvadorean military, comedian Bob Hope's daughter, actress Stephanie Power's brother, the murdered JonBenet Ramsey's neighbors, a New Jersey mob hitman, Princess Caroline's bodyguards and a weedy, bespectacled, middle-aged public librarian. Plus others.

He has uncovered exclusive tales of the famous that include Oprah's death video, Obama's bikini girl scandal and the baby Joni Mitchell kept secret even from her parents. He has shared a sardine with Prince Charles, a Scotch with Jeane Dixon, a prayer with Dog the Bounty Hunter, a grooming with a talking gorilla and a trade secret with Englebert Humperdinck. All of this came about because of an old chair that legend said killed the people who sat in it.

Bannister lives in Oregon with his wife Jennie plus a 21 lbs Maine Coon cat, a 90 lbs Catahoula dog called Axel and an indeterminate mutt called Java who pretends to be deaf but can hear the fridge door open at 100 paces. His lifelong interests include rugby and bicycle racing. He authored 'Strange Happenings,' co-authored 'Money Signs' with astrologer Fredrick Davies and 'Yesterday, Today and Forever' with psychic Jeane Dixon. He also cooperated on the Globe book 'Juice, the OJ Simpson tragedy.' He is currently working on a new novel.

Next Week:

Peter Robbins

UFO Jam Session

Longtime friend of the program, Peter Robbins, joins us for a fast and loose conversation covering a plethora of topics surrounding the UFO phenomenon.

BoA : Audio, Season Six archive