When I was 14 on a camping trip I saw a UFO. Well, multiple UFOs. That’s a story for another thread. But, when I got back to school the next week I started consuming everything I could on the subject. Started at the school library, moved to the town library, then I got Internet access at home and hoo boy.
My cousins boyfriend at the time was an older guy in his 20s, s truck driver, he used to play Nintendo (yes still playing NES in the 90s) with me a lot. One day we’re playing Tecmo Bowl or something and he says, “Have you ever heard of this guy Art Bell? I listen to him on my overnight drives, his show is all about this stuff.”
I had tape recorder with an input jack, so I started recording AM radio overnight and listening to it the next day on my old ass Walkman. I just used he same tape over and over, unfortunately, so I don’t have an archive of those old shows. That’d be cool.
I spent a lot of late nights in high school and college listening to Coast to Coast. Art was a legend. He’d reel you in to the most ridiculous stories and keep you hanging throguh every commercial. He did a show with a “real witch” called Harlot, who told stories about corrupting Christians and damning them to hell. Total bullshit but at the time I was scared to death. There was the call with a guy who was fleeing Area 51. 20 years later that guy fessed up to hoaxing but this was a classic Coast to Coast moment.
There’s really only 2 people I can think of who could turn radio into something more captivating than TV or a movie, Howard Stern and Art Bell. A lot of people have tried to fill Art’s shoes and they all fall short. I think the magic of paranormal radio is something that was an artifact of the 90s, before the internet went mainstream and everyone had Snopes in their pocket. You can’t tell a good ghost story anymore without someone giving you the “Actually…” But if you have a chance, go listen to some of Art Bells old Halloween “Ghost to Ghost” shows. Try it late at night, all by yourself, and see if you don’t get reeled in.
Something about AM radio, too, the sound, the static, the sort of sense of distance and eerie etherealness of the signal (not quite the same for FM, ever), made it the perfect late-night listening medium.
Man, sad day for me. When in the military, we struggled to find anything to listen to that was, “American,” while overseas. This was in the early internet days and even getting Armed Forces Network on the CC TV’s on a ship wear on you after a bit.
Art Bell was in his heyday then as the late night Coast to Coast, and he just happened to be a pioneer of recording his shows and making them available to download, and later stream. So while we were sailing around the Mediterranean during our workday, that was prime time for listening to Art Bell and the craziness and kookiness that ensued a lot. This was started by my supervisor, who had also seen a UFO, so he liked to listen to, and critique, some of the stories. There were serious shows peppered in at times. Just hearing the listeners call in was half of the fun.
And you can’t forget the tunes he had as dittys that would play during commercial breaks.
Sadly, as I left the service I just never went back to listening. They changed hosts there for a while as Art went through some personal problems and the death threats from what I understand.
Art didn’t die, he just [redacted]
Art Bell’s appearance in Prey hosting his radio show was a great way to provide some thematically appropriate exposition. Sad to hear the news he’s no longer with us. :(
Really despised his radio show and the paranoia is fostered but I’m sad he’s gone.
I knew a guy who listened to art Bell and believed most of the nonsense. I feel like he was a predecessor to the lunatic Fringe on the right like Alex Jones, which is extremely damaging to our society.
But ultimately it’s an exploitation of a lack of critical thinking skills, not a cause of that deficiency.
First time I heard Alex Jones was on Coast to Coast, he had snuck into Bohemian Grove and filmed their pagan ritual. I guess that’s how Alex Jones got started.
I think this is the guy I listened to occasionally in the '90s. Then I heard him telling his audience not to take anti-psychotic medication because it’s poison. It stopped being fun after that.
I didn’t listen on any regular basis, but I always associate Art Bell with good memories, mainly of late night drives across multiple states to get to wherever. His show was the absolute best thing to be listening to on long lonely drives across the middle of nowhere.
Yeah. Art Bell leads directly to Alex Jones.
Terrible news. I always held out hope he would make yet another return to radio. I loved his shows. Pure entertainment. The best thing radio ever gave me. I have a bunch (maybe 100 or so) of his classic shows on mp3, but can’t remember where I got them. There is an archive of them somewhere on the internet I know, but I’ve never found an archive that had the lesser-known shows. I’d love to have a complete collection.
I’ll always have a soft spot for Art Bell because his radio show was on throughout my late-night work in my twenties. Back then, it was harmless. Mostly just a collection of cranks and theorists calling in and sharing their bullshit stories. It was later that his show took a turn and started going all in on homeopathic medicine, Alex Jones, and anti-Obama.
I’m glad I missed that stage then. I mean, knowing the Art Bell of lore when I did listen to the shows, I can certainly say he was a person that would eventually lead to falling into conspiracy madness and/or extreme views later in life.
After his first wife died he took a turn, for sure. I was still listening to C2C somewhat regularly at the time, Art’s shows anyway. I was skipping the Noory ones because he was a bad host.
Alex Jones, at the time, had no more credibility than the other crackpots I heard, like Ed Dames (who kept predicting a super solar flare that would kill everyone). They told wild stories, stuff to scare you late at night, and that’s it.
I always felt they took the UFO stuff more seriously, but a lot of the guests were there to fill time. They did a show every night. I don’t think anyone actually believed Mel’s Hole was real, but it sure as shit was a good ghost story for 1am while grinding in Everquest.
I particularly enjoyed the John Titor stuff. I wanted to believe.
What’s funny, or not I guess, is that some of the speakers he had on that show are the same ones I see in the rerun shows on networks for UFO’s or other paranormal subjects. Those same subject, “experts,” have had a surprisingly long career.
Man it’s been a weird journey. I used to listen to him late at night during gaming sessions or just being a plain night owl (Coast to Coast while having an all-night Civ session?? Fun.) Many of the topics tickled my fancy, but my skeptical mind was on overdrive. C2C was such a funky show, perfect for late night and Art got so many of the post-midnight crowd it’s amazing. It all felt right together somehow.
But yeah it got weird and funky as things do, and the mix of Art’s personal life and constant reported threats against his life just made everything way too weird. Read his wiki page sometime; it’s pretty crazy. Few times in the history of broadcasting has someone start-stopped-start-stopped so many programs. I thought it was funky how after Ramona died he basically immediately found a mail-order wife. Or the supposed constant threats against him. Or how he had a falling out with all the people he fostered (like George Noory) despite the fact that they were pretty much just like him. Well, maybe they are true believers… Bell I think wanted to just be the fun messenger.
I got into listening to C2C for awhile. Yeah It’s fake but the enthusiasm with which some of the guests got into their stories about aliens or government conspiracies was a hoot to listen too.