Batchelor was born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania to an Iranian-Assyrian/American family, and was raised primarily in Lower Merion Township of Montgomery County, in Pennsylvania's 13th congressional district. His mother and father both served in the United States Army during World War II; his father also served in the Korean War. Batchelor is the eldest of five brothers. He is a 1970 graduate of Princeton University and a 1976 graduate of Union Theological Seminary.
John Batchelor and his original co-host, writer Paul Alexander, broadcast Batchelor and Alexander on WABC in New York. On September 8, 2001, John Batchelor and Paul Alexander presented a four-hour WABC show that was devoted to multiple guest interviews on the USS Cole bombing in October 2000 by the major suspect, the Saudi renegade Osama bin Laden and his gang, al Qaeda. For two years, in the show, Batchelor performed the role of Republican; Alexander took the role of Democrat. They focused on international issues with special attention to Middle East-based terrorism. He described their approach: "Our model is the BBC World Service, with music and live interviews, but without English accents." Alexander quipped: "We're not NPR, where they do setups to things on tape. Well, we could be NPR on drugs."
Alexander left the show in December 2003 to pursue work as a playwright and biographer.
The John Batchelor Show was syndicated nationally in April 2003. In 2017, the terrestrial, network program airs 28 hours a week on roughly 200 stations; it focusses on geopolitics, economics, war-fighting, history, hard sciences, literature, private space, whimsy, etc. Historically, it carried nightly (Mon-Fri) the "Loftus Report" featuring the intelligence commentator John Loftus on current, war-related, open-source intelligence. Aaron Klein, Jerusalem bureau chief for WorldNetDaily, was also a regular and served as a co-host. Other regular contributors included Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; the New York attorney and taste-maker Ed Hayes; Larry Kudlow of CNBC's Kudlow & Company: Bill Whelan of the Hoover Institution: John Fund, Bret Stephens, Dan Henninger, Rob Pollock and Kim Strassel of the Wall Street Journal; Jim McTague of Barron's Magazine; Chuck Todd, then of The Hotline, now NBC Political Director; Fiona Harvey and Martin Wolf of the Financial Times; Jodi Schneider of the Congressional Quarterly; Matt Bai and A. O. Scott of the New York Times; Katrina vanden Heuvel and Stephen F. Cohen of The Nation; Victor Davis Hanson, Henry Miller, and Larry Diamond of the Hoover Institution; Adrian Wooldridge, Robert Guest, and John Parker of the Economist; Monica Crowley; David Grinspoon, resident expert on the planet Mars and outer space, and Robert Zimmerman, award-winning NASA observer. The program daily featured reports from journalists who filed with the world's most respected press outlets, and the show was reliably a few days ahead of the news cycle.
When John Batchelor occasionally took a break for several evenings, the show was often hosted by Jed Babbin, editor of Human Events in Washington, D.C.; sometimes by the former BBC journalist John Terrett, who now works for al Jazeera; and by Larry Kudlow of CNBC's Kudlow & Company and WABC's Larry Kudlow Show. In 2012, Simon Constable of Dow Jones; Chris Riback, author and researcher, and Francis Rose of Federal News Radio in Washington, D.C., became primary fill-ins.
Batchelor's show featured multiple guests, and shows were preceded by and interspersed with news clips and music. The show focussed on myriad topics, including politics, the war on terror, nuclear proliferation, the UN, African civil wars, American history, space exploration and even Hollywood scandals. The Jerusalem Post has an audio archive of Batchelor and Alexander segments from 2002 and 2003 that deal with Israel and the Middle East.
To report on breaking news, Batchelor and a small staff have travelled domestically to hotspots, and to Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, France, Poland and Taiwan. They landed in Taipei to broadcast for the week leading up to the 2004 elections, when, on the last day of electioneering, both the president and the vice-president were shot and wounded by an unknown assailant.
On Monday, August 25, 2006, Batchelor announced on air that his last show on ABC Radio Network would be canceled on September 1, that Friday.
WABC's manager, Phil Boyce, wrote in e-mails to listeners that ABC Radio Network simply had discontinued Batchelor's syndication, but Boyce didn't give any hint why that had happened.
His first radio appearance since his departure from ABC was as a substitute host for Matt Drudge on July 22, 2007. The show was nearly identical in format to his ABC show, including contributions from Klein and Loftus, among many other guests. He returned to fill in for Drudge on September 2, 2007.
Batchelor returned on WABC as the host of a weekly version of the previous show on October 7, 2007, from 7–10 PM Eastern Time. He then hosted a second show as a guest host on KFI in Los Angeles, filling the vacancy caused by the departure of Matt Drudge, in the next three hours from 7–10 PM Pacific time. His first program featured an interview with Nick Grace of ClandestineRadio.com that broke the name of al Qaeda's extranet, Obelisk, and the news that the extranet's security tightened following a press leak in September 2007.
In 2009, Batchelor expanded his show to Saturday and Sunday nights, from 9 PM to 1 AM, on most of his affiliates. The Saturday show focuses more on authors of history books, while the Sunday show focuses on breaking news and a wider range of topics.
On November 24, 2009, WABC announced that the Batchelor show would be also airing weeknights from 9 PM to 1 AM, effective November 30.
John Batchelor was a frequent guest on the Gene Countryman Show, KNSS, WIchita, Kansas, Sundays at 8 PM Eastern. As of mid-2015, John Batchelor features on Tuesdays: an hour with Larry Kudlow on finance, and then an hour with Prof Stephen Cohen on Russia; on Wednesdays: an hour-plus with Gordon Chang on China and East Asia, and one or two segments on private exploration of space with Dr David Livingston; on Thursdays: an hour with Mary Kissel on domestic US politics and matters Australian, then an hour and a half with Malcolm Hoenlein on the MIddle East.
The John Batchelor Show is broadcast every day from 9 PM to 1 AM Eastern time, 6-10 PM Pacific time. It is broadcast on a network of affiliates, and originates from 77 WABC in New York City. Neither Batchelor's nor Cumulus Media Networks' websites has a complete affiliate list, so this list may not display all stations that carry the show.
All times listed below are local to the market served. Not all stations broadcast the show in its entirety.
Note: In the case of the Dallas, Texas market, the show is split between two stations: WBAP AM/FM (first three hours of the weekend shows live) and KLIF (first hour live Monday through Friday). Indicates live broadcast of entire show
Indicates a delayed broadcast
John Avlon, Daily Beast; progressive commentator, author of Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe Is Hijacking America
Jeff Bliss, The Bliss Index
John R. Bolton, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations; American Enterprise Institute
Lara M. Brown, political historian and author
Gordon G. Chang, Forbes.com; noted anti-Communist Chinese
Stephen F. Cohen, Russian studies scholar at Princeton University
Simon Constable, Marketwatch.com
Monica Crowley, conservative commentator
David Drucker, Washington Examiner Senior Congressional correspondent
John Fund, NRO
Charlie Gasparino, appears less often than before
Taegan Goddard, Political Wire
Lou Ann Hammond, CEO of www.carlist.com; CEO of www.drivingthenation.com
Victor Davis Hanson, The Hoover Institution
Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
Larry Johnson, No Quarter blog
Mary Kissel, The Wall Street Journal
Larry Kudlow, CNBC; late Reagan administration
Thaddeus McCotter, MI-11; R.
Marc Morano, Climate Depot
Devin Nunes, CA-21; R
Arif Rafiq, Pakistan Policy Blog
Bill Roggio, Long War Journal
John Tamny, RealClearPolitics
Bob Zimmerman, author of Leaving Earth
Salena Zito, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Regular segments include "Hotel California" (introduced by an instrumental version of the Eagles song), which was a discussion of California's former fiscal discombobulation and its political environment, including the gubernatorial and Senatorial races. Devin Nunes generally is included in the roundtable; also, Hotel Mars, episode n.
Robert Zimmerman of behindtheblack frequently comes on to talk about NASA and the space program, preceded by the music from the Star Trek end credits. The show's last segment (c.12:55 AM EST) invariably features Al Bowlly's "Midnight, the Stars and You", ending in a brief (<30sec) valediction/good-night, sometimes with a few moments with a guest (time for one question). The singer is sometimes mistaken for Al Jolson, as Batchelor introduces the singer simply with "here's Al," and the song dates from the time of Jolson's late career.
John Avlon, Jeff Bliss, Gordon Chang, Simon Constable, Taegan Goddard, Malcolm Hoenlein, Mary Kissel, Larry Kudlow, Francis Rose, and Chris Riback have frequently guest-hosted or co-hosted.