After many rumors & conspiracy theories, it’s finally official: Art Bell, the man whose name is synonymous with fringe topics & spooky stories from deranged callers in the middle of the night, is coming back to Radioland –though it can hardly be called a long absence, considering Art had been on & off Coast to Coast since his (4th) retirement in 2007.
But now the master of late-night radio is switching the AM frequency for Satellite, and has signed a contract with Sirius XM for a brand new show, beginning transmission next September.
“I missed it terribly,” said Bell, 68, whose weeknight show will air live from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. ET. Sirius is building a studio at Bell’s rural Nevada home where he will work.
A Sirius representative contacted Bell through social media a few months ago, leading to the formation of his show, “Art Bell’s Dark Matter.” He’ll talk about things like UFOs, ghosts, near-death experiences and weird aspects of science. He’ll do interviews and take calls from viewers.
Scott Greenstein, Sirius XM president and chief content officer, said the show will be “uncensored, unrestricted, uncluttered and utterly unique.”
“There’s probably more interest in the genre now than when I did it,” Bell said. “When I did it, I was damned near alone.”
Art’s influence in the current state of the Fortean world is undeniable, not only for indirectly causing the explosion of paranormal TV programming, once the networks realized the hunger for this kind of content, but also by inspiring many young listeners into researching the things that bump in the night for themselves –like my friend & colleague Micah Hanks, for example.
It’s no wonder Leslie Bohem, writer of the TV miniseries Taken (2002), decided to give him a sort of veiled homage with the character of William ‘Bill’ Jeffries (played by Michael Jeter).
But don’t let anyone tell you Bell is the father of paranormal radio! Long before he had a chance to grab a microphone, the legendary Long John Nebel was inviting the Contactees of the 1950s to his radio program, to discuss their UFO sightings & the messages bestowed upon them by the Space Brothers. If you want to get a taste of those shows of yesteryear, here you can find an archive of some of the interviews LJN had with Richard Shaver & Ray Palmer. While it’s clear Nebel was highly skeptical of the accounts of the Contactees –not unlike Bell decades later– as a good showman he realized the entertaining value of their stories.
But getting back to the golden years of Coast to Coast, I asked Micah to give me a list of what he thought were the top ten moments in Art’s career; and even though his choices were more based on entertainment purposes than the actual value of the content, here it is: