Radio talk show host Art Bell has died. No matter what you think of him he knew how to entertain us. Cause of death unknown. He was 72
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Area 51 fly in
Area 51 caller
So many others,Art knew how to be a showman.
In a capacity of entertainment he will be missed.
"In a capacity of entertainment, he will be missed...."
Art achieved more than 99 percent of the world population and you file him away as "in a capacity.." ? I am not sure you actually understand how much Art did for ALL of us. #artknew
I think Art Bell deserves more of a send off than a few well meant 1 liners.
Art Bell was a big part of my life in the 90's. I worked long days as a computer engineer for a major corporation. My job was full of stress and I could not relax even at night. I would dream about computer code! Art Bell was a welcome escape. Bear in mind that at that time YOUTUBE did not exist. Art Bell was on the cutting edge for even having an internet website, complete with a forum (another rather new idea at the time) for listeners to discuss the shows. Art promoted the idea of listener clubs through out the country. People would come together locally and discuss Art Bell and his guests. Often in large cities some of Art's guests would show up and have informal chats with the group. Art Bell was a real phenomena at the time because (younger people need to understand this) there was next to nothing on the paranormal anywhere else. There had been a TV show SIGHTINGS for 1 hour a week. This seemed to meld into a show called ENCOUNTERS (if I recall correctly). But Art was there late every single night to discuss any aspect of the strange. He filled a vacuum in the collective mind, and filled it very well. Even though I had to wake up at 6:00 a.m. to go back to work, I would often sit up (almost a zombie) listening to Art Bell.
Now one thing Art Bell did seemingly as a marketing ploy was to promote that his show was revealing the hidden TRUTH. I believed it at the time. Many people did. Of course, this has now become a cliche and you can go on YOUTUBE and watch "revealed truth" from any different angle (right wing conspiracies, religious fundamentalism, left wing fears, and just a buffet of "revealed truth" to suit your fancy. If you didn't like one version of the "revealed truth" you could easily find another version to support your pre-existing beliefs).
But when Art Bell hit the scene, he pretty much owned the genre in a big way. People even wrote songs about Art Bell and the show, such as Crystal Gale who wrote Midnight in the Desert. One very clever person used clips from old shows with the word "TRUTH" and called it the truth song. Another clever collage used the words "Something is happening" from many interviews to create an amusing clip. And old time listeners will recall the satirical commercials for anti-Grey aerosol spray and gold dipped bugs. Remember the programs promotional ads that featured guest clips like JC and 1 strange man who revealed that his sister routinely had Greys sleeping on the bed with her like cats? And don't forget the legitimate ads that paid for the show for products that would make late night TV $19.95 ads blush. Didn't he have one advertiser that sold magnet based water filters or cleansers? The eccentric sponsors were part of the fun before the show was sold to a corporate network.
But even in the zenith of my faith in Art Bell, I began to feel frustration. Why oh why did Art Bell keep showcasing Ed Dames? The man reminds me much of David Wilcock today. So many wild stories, and always negative. Dames got the knick name Doctor Doom. Even on the Art Bell official forum, listeners mused about why Art Bell seemed so connected at the hip to Dames. Did Dames have something on him (conspiracy theory)? Did Art have a heavy investment in Dames mail order "remove viewing" kits?
Then there was "Doctor Reed" with the frozen alien burrito. He claimed that he was on a hike with his dog and came upon an alien. The alien turned his dog into beef jerky with a ray gun. Reed killed the alien and kept him in his garage freezer. The story became more and more silly, with Reed opening the freezer one day and the dead alien was screeching. Then secret government agents became involved (rejected scripts for the X FILES). Then there was the god awful Sean David Morton and Bruce Goldberg.
Art had this guy on repeatedly, even after evidence was sent to Art about how this guy was a total fraud. I still cannot really understand Art's psyche such that he would be very connected to certain guests, even when they were obviously frauds. Hoagland is another example. Did Hoagland really make good radio? Yes, Hoagland came up with lots of entertaining wild stuff, like the time TARGET advertised shirts on TV for $19.50 (I may have the price wrong). Hoagland had a fixation on that number, thinking it had deep occult Illuminati qualities. He told listeners to go to TARGET, ask for the manager and say "I am here for the secret Illuminati meeting". LOL I am sure TARGET store managers across the nation had a few choice words for Hoagland after that incident. I think even Art Bell seemed a little scared when Hoagland pulled that stunt.
I remember a bad period for Bell when David Oates (reverse speech) and someone named Stephens began to post salacious things about Art Bell. David Oates had been another darling of the show until a falling out with Bell. Bell wanted clear literal reverse speech clips whereas Oates often shared metaphorical quotes that could mean anything. Oates was not invited to the show any longer. Oates retaliated with some very sleazy claims that Art had once been involved in a molestation arrest. Eventually, Art prevailed in court and Oates came on the show as part of the court settlement to publicly recant his story. You did NOT cross Art Bell. He was a fighter!
Another bad period was witnessing the entire Hale Bopp space ship tragedy when members of the Heaven's Gate UFO cult killed themselves, believing that the much publicized Hale Bopp space ship was coming for them. But to get picked up, they had to leave their bodies behind. Frankly, although a lot of people blamed Art for this disaster, he was just doing what he always did, sharing wild tales and promoting them. This time it backfired on Art big time. But at least Art and Whitley Strieber put the faux remote viewer Courtney Browne in his place. Art was extremely tolerant of nonsense on his show, but you crossed him you were ground into the dirt. Art took no prisoners. He exacted supreme judgment and punishment.
I admit that I became very jaded about Art Bell through his repeated drama queen departures from his own show in the late 90's. Yes, he left because his teen son had been sexually assaulted by a male teacher. Of course, I can understand that first departure. But Art would subsequently come back and depart in equally melo-dramatic ways. Art claimed he had fallen and hurt his back, which made it impossible for him to sit through an entire show due to the agony. So sometimes Art would leave the show in the middle of a broadcast, requiring the network to run an old show at that point. The problem is that later the same night, Art would FOR HOURS be on short wave radio, laughing and chatting with people. There were suspicions at the time that perhaps Art was using his back pain as some sort of negotiation tool (like calling in sick) to get a better deal from the network. I cannot substantiate that at all, but it was a rumor making the rounds on the internet so I am sharing it now.
Regarding the network, Art started out on a home spun network. His show really had a strong flavor of counter culture and ad hoc programming. But then Art Bell sold the show to a major network which led to being part of the right wing Clear Channel network. The show seemed to become more glossy then with the addition of countless commercial breaks. Art's original show could go on for 5 or more hours. Clear Channel cut it down to 4. Art would resurrect himself on the show, then within months leave again.
Discerning members of the audience began to feel disrespected. I think the final straw for many long time listeners was when Art began the new Midnight in the Desert Show. Within only a few months, suddenly he was gone again and some totally unknown young woman was hosting the show. Art claimed that he had received death threats against himself and his family unless he quit the show. He claimed that shots had been fired. The sheriff was notified. Yet Art kept his family out at the compound during this period instead of getting them to safety somewhere else, such as back in the Philippines (until it was over). This gunned madman was never caught. But Art left his own show for the last time. Yet, appallingly, the very next day after he left the show (and this gun man was still out there presumably) what does Art do? He posts photos of his little daughter on the internet. People began to wonder if Art was losing it. A mad gunman had just threatened to kill your family, and you post close up photos of your daughter on the internet the day after you leave the show for the last time? As you might guess, many people thought that this gunman was a figment of Art's creative imagination. We can never really know but evidently Art never had a problem again once he quit the show. Others suggest that perhaps Art always meant to create the show as a platform for this young lady Heather. He got it started and once it was stabilized at around 35,000 feet, he gave her the controls and parachuted out. We will never know.
I do feel that his website master Keith Roland was given a real kick in the stomach. Art had left SIRIUS FM, presumably because that company would not allow people to hear Art's show FOR FREE. Art's complaint made no sense to me because SIRIUS FM is obviously a pay to listen network. That is how they make money. How could Art have missed that obvious fact? Yet Art demanded that they made an exception for him and allow anyone to hear his show because he felt the rating weren't good enough and he wasn't getting many call ins. This is what we were told at the time. And the listeners were 50 50 on this. There is always a mindless cadre or posse of born again fans (like Trump supporters?) who deny reality and simply believe. Then there were the 50% who were getting fed up with Art's antics.
So Art left and had a noncompetitive clause in the contract for a year or 2. Keith Roland was commissioned to create this entire NETWORK with Art Bell's new show as the flagship. Hoagland and Jimmy Church had shows on that network. Keith invested a lot of time and effort into this, probably along with finances. Then after a few months, Art Bell just pulled the plug on the flagship show. When this happened, Keith seemed confused about what to do. He finally decided to keep going with Heather running the faltering flagship. Many people cancelled their subscriptions (me included), although perhaps things are going well now? I don't know. Heather still seems to be running Art's show. However, with so many free shows of high quality free on YOUTUBE on these same topics, I am rather curious who would continue to pay for an unknown talent.
Therefore, I think Art Bell really damaged his "brand" by coming off as a Prima-donna at the end. He was like a romantic suitor who courted his audience over and over for a short period, then dumped the audience for 1 dramatic reason after another. Maybe Art had reached a point where he loved the IDEA of being on the radio but hated the reality of the daily grind as age crept up on him? I like the IDEA of being the best gardener on the street but....
Nonetheless, Art Bell at his height was a cultural force! The listener felt like he/she was taking part in a leading edge movement to uncover hidden truth. In this time of a plethora of such shows everywhere, it may be hard for younger people to understand. But again, there was nothing else of this kind anywhere then. I remember dark nights commuting from San Francisco to my home out in the East Valley. Cocooned in my car with the glowing radio dial, there was something so comforting about knowing that Art Bell was out there on the air, sort of America's Dad with his smooth calm voice and his very responsive remarks and questions to whatever the guest had to say.
There were those classic open lines events where callers participated in the show. Examples:
1. The guy supposedly flying a plane into Area 51 and being shot down as we listened.
2. The guy who supposedly worked at Area 51 who nervously told us about pending destruction that the powers-that-be know about
3. Actual Men in Black callers
4. Aliens living on Earth callers
5. Time Travelers from the future (John Titor)
7. Actual Vampires
8. Shadow people caller encounters
9. Alien abduction caller experiences
10. NDE caller experiences
11. JC the intolerant religious fanatic who felt that William Shatner was a Canadian spy sent here to steal technological wonders from the set of Star Trek (was JC really just a good amateur actor?).
12. There was a guy who told us he spent 5 years as a wolf, part of a generational family curse invoked when he stepped into a particular pool in the woods at the insistence of his dad.
13. There was a lady in Wisconsin who matter of factly described her encounter with an elf. All such topics were NEW then. Thanks to Art, these topics are now mainstream to the point that we can find shows about the paranormal everywhere online.
14. Women who fantasize about Art Bell when having sex with their husbands and boyfriends (Just kidding)
I purchased the commemorative CD put out by Keith Roland and Art Bell at one point. This contains the music written about Art and used on the show, logos (there were a steady stream then of pictures of Art against creative backgrounds), and many other features. I have 10 binders full of CDs of the Art Bell shows. I haven't touched them in years, but now they seem poignant and I will be listening to them.
Will Art Bell be remembered? Except for students of radio, probably not. Who remembers Arthur Godfrey, Jack Paar, Steve Allen, Walter Winchell, Drew Pearson, even Johnny Carsen! A recent survey says that many young Americans do not even know what the Holocaust was (what do public schools teach?!?!). I predict that as the boomer generation departs this world, Art will just be a chapter in a scholarly book on radio history. But that is OK. I don't think Art intended to have any bronze statues erected to his name (although I would love for some rich eccentric to do so and create a library - as we do for each President - to preserve all his shows). Pop culture moves on for better or often for worse nowadays. We are all born into a period of history, live through it to the best of our ability, hopefully retire and then pass on. Art Bell was a major source of wonder and comfort for many of us during that journey in the 90's.
Art Bell coined the term THE QUICKENING. He felt that something momentous was coming. In actuality, Life here moves on as usual on the edge of despair and great hope. But perhaps the Quickening has come for Art. Maybe death is the Quickening.
POST SCRIPT: This story could have had a happy ending if Art Bell and the network had found a new host more on par with Art Bell. Instead they chose George Noory. Coast to Coast became a dumbed down product. The host seemed to know nothing about the paranormal. Instead of intimate conversations, we heard stilted interviews using prepared questions that often ignored any hooks the guest may have provided in their previous response. Incredible areas for further discussion were routinely ignored as George just went down the list of questions his staff prepared for him. George went to calls often quite prematurely. It seemed like he just didn't know what to say after a short time so he handed it over to the callers. The guests were often brilliant and interesting, but their potential was lost by a relatively clueless host. Nonetheless, over the years the older crowd may have left (I still subscribe) and the younger people don't seem to notice any decrease in quality. They seem to adore George and flock to conferences where he is a speaker. Coast to Coast is still sometimes brilliant. I particularly like the guest hosts George Knapp, David Schrader and Jimmy Church.
Jimmy Church seems in a league with Art Bell in terms of guest interaction. While Jimmy is very much a flim flam man like a circus carny (and he adores David Wilcock and Corey Goode as much as Art adored some nefarious people), he has that old time spirit. Jimmy knows what he is talking about and does not need a script prepared for him by a staff. He can just shoot the bull for 2-3 hours without cue cards. I do wonder where Coast to Coast would be today if Jimmy had been given the reins right after Art left. There is no ultimate search for the truth on C2C, but some of that old time intimacy would have been maintained. Jimmy has his own show modeled after C2C called FADE TO BLACK. He refers to listeners as Fadernauts. Yeah, this may all be quite cheesy, but it brings back the Art Bell inclusion of the audience into a "movement". I miss that on the now very glib sanitized C2C.
Back in 2013-14 the Art Bell fans over at BellGab compiled an archive of all the shows that they could get hold of (The Ultimate Art Bell Collection) and uploaded it to the torrent network. It's over 50GB of shows. The magnet link and instructions are in Post #395 on this page:I wonder if you could post your 10 cds of his shows on YouTube these days.