Art Bell, back in his time, had a different take. He did politics for some time. But changing the format equaled a success that has been unparalleled by any in comparison.
Art Bell is coming back to radio. But will people back to him?
There are lots of people happy about--including me, to be honest. I have been a proud card carrying member of the BELLGAB.COM forum for several years, joining in a strange arena of general disgust with George Noory and the state of modern radio..
And speaking of modern radio..
It's a cesspool of politics. Constant banter about material items that have useless end results for those who debate them. Issues that really don't matter. Gay wedding cakes, for one.. And many other things to divide a nation that is already divided into small divisions of divisions that don't have a chance of ever getting along with each other..
I think it's fair to say that Coast to Coast AM, the 1990s and early 2000s version, inspired a nation to accept the paranormal or at least question it. It led to countless ghost hunter shows, added to the aura of creepiness of the X-FILES, and make lots of night shifters and night owls hear something few others did: A bizarre four to five hours of overnight programming focusing on the absurd, the bizarre..the science.. and the shadow creatures. That may or may not exist.
And Richard C. Hoagland. Who does exist. As does his hair..
But a return of Art Bell?
In a market saturated by fools and frauds, it is a little difficult for me to see where Bell fits in the new scheme of things..
Radio is mean and cruel now. Some may say it always was, but regardless of history, it certainly is now. It seems that everyone who has a chip on their shoulders when they call and opine. It would appear that everything--from religion to science--has someone who backs it without prejudice or many times even logic.
Art Bell did not.
He created a new category of media that did not exist before his venture into the strange activity late in the night.
When Art Bell returned to SIRIUS XM radio in 2013, something seemed off. The opening intro, the guests.. the format. SIRIUS XM did not seem to be the rightful home for Art Bell. The satellite company's chief talent, Howard Stern, certainly did not welcome him with open air.. Lots of others poked fun at Bell for disallowing cursing no his unregulated program. And then when Bell chose to ask Sirius to be permitted to broadcast his show on his own website, he seemed to have an inability to grasp the notion of the contract he signed.
Little did anyone know at the time, of course, was that Coast to Coast AM was working behind the scenes to secure Art Bell's spot on the INDIE station--the home that Coast still has today on XM..
Art Bell has been toying with fans in various places for months. On BELLGAB, he has become a regular contributor to the message board site. On Facebook, he drops messages from time to time about his plans.
Tonight, he posted what seems to be a near-maybe-soon to be decision on his future program, MIDNIGHT IN THE DESERT. Bell said,
Midnight in the DesertHere is what I can tell you, Keith and I are going to think about this over this Weekend but it looks like instead of making a deal with anybody else we will do it ourselves. We will be on the Internet and everybody will be able to hear the show on Tune In (free app) Worldwide.If we decide to move forward I will be ordering the gear by Tuesday. The music is taken care of and the time of the show will be 9PM-12AM PT M-F.The live show will be free, but because we are doing it ourselves we will be depending on people buying membership for 5 bucks a Month which gives you the Podcast and Wormhole and so forth. If they don't we won't get very far because we pay music, Bandwidth, Producer Etc.We could have signed with a Partner BUT they wanted to put us in a pay wall with other stuff and the price would have been at least double with all kinds of restrictions so we think we will put up the money ourselves and roll the dice. It's a gamble but so is life.Art
Keith Rowland and Art Bell will undoubtedly have a tough choice on their hands this weekend. Art Bell said on BELLGAB that Rowland doesn't have much money for the game. Bell himself even said he wanted to try to save the money has put away for his family, and at the same time hinted about how expensive it will be to buy equipment to broadcast himself and how much money it was going to take to be able to play bumper music.
Five dollars a month will help him.
But will it be enough.
There are two schools of thought in my own head on the return of Art Bell to radio. On one hand, I want him back. I am a little dismayed by most of the 'paranormal' talk that is out there--those who fall victim to believing everything or others who simply pretend to understand the paranormal as a means of pretending to be the next Art. And with a return to the radio, there's a good chance that real talk will return. Questions that matter, speculation based on common sense, a fun spirit of tin-foil-hat wearing paranoia without being too paranoid. And truthseeking with critical thinking instead of gullibility.
On the other hand.. if a failure occurs, and yet another quick retirement happens, the Art Bell stock will be utterly washed up. Gone. Finished. And a mighty career and industry-changing life will be forced into the background without respect.
I am biased. As fan, I hope scenario two never happens. I certainly don't think it will, but say it only for the purposes of possibility.
The podcasting world is saturated.
I have a very tough time keeping up with message boards and blogs that I love. I have an equally difficult time, as of late, finding the time to write as much as I crave doing so. But the podasting world? With a blog or website, you can quickly skim for the best parts. You can see the bold type and read, quickly, what may matter more than the rest of the verbiage. But with podcasting, you can't really do such things.. it's much tougher to find a batch of podcasts you really love and find the time to actually listen to them all.
And that is why Art Bell has to be good.
He will be successful, I predict, in gaining back the fans who have become weary with Coast to Coast AM. He may even build his audience a bit, based on the fact that so many newcomers to the Coast show have grown equally tired of cue-card questions and borderline stupidity displayed by George Noory. But will Art Bell be able to gather enough of the new generation to listen?
It's interesting to think that all of the things popular today, the ghost tales and stories of alien encounters, UFO sightings, and conspiracy, all have a bloodline dating back directly to Art Bell. And few in the new generation of social media or internet broadcasting have a clue as to how their world and subject matter popularity was based off of the hard work of someone who went against the grain in a time when 'paranormal' was marginalized and mocked.
In that sense, Art Bell deserves the respect of the people who buy into the ideas he promoted.
But we know that what should happen doesn't always occur.
I will not be making any predictions on whether there will be success found on MIDNIGHT IN THE DESERT. Of course, I will be working 5 bucks a month into my budget. Heck, if I subscribed (for three months) to Sirius, 5 bucks is a bargain.
Art Bell will need a lot of people like me, however.
Time will tell to see if he gets them.