Art Bell’s radio show was a guilty pleasure of mine. The paranormal themed overnight show housed an abundance of fascinating topics that, while mostly derived of absolute nonsense, made for some great radio.
With that said, I was sad when I found out over the weekend that he had passed away on Friday, of all days, the 13th. While my expectations long ago faded that he would ever return to the air for an extended run, his death now cements that his voice is indeed permanently silent.
Over the last several years, I’ve made more of an effort to think skeptically. In a world filled with an abundance of false claims and pseudoscience, I normally am against such forums or individuals who enable such nonsense. While Bell was one of the most prominent enablers, I internally had given him a pass due to my own selfish enjoyment of his show over the years.
As a night owl back in my teenage years, I took a liking to the off-kilt nature of Bell’s “Coast to Coast AM” program. I enjoyed listening to his show at odd hours of the night during summer vacation. The sound of Bell’s voice, his unique way with words, his choice in bumper music going to and from commercial breaks and the over-the-top discussion made for the most fascinating radio theater.
My appreciation for Art Bell also ties into my father because it was he who first introduced me to his Sunday night “Dreamland” program locally on WLS-AM, sometime back in the mid to late 1990s. My dad was so intrigued with how different the subject matter was and suggested I sample the show. While my father did find Bell’s program to be interesting, he was quick to make sure that I understood the subject matter was pure theater and to only enjoy it as such.
Once Bell stopped doing his Sunday night show, my dad never got to listen to him live again since he normally was not awake during Bell’s regular “Coast to Coast AM” overnight show. Over the years, I sensed that my dad would enjoy the occasional conversation when I would share with him something unusual I heard on Bell’s program. A fond memory I have to this day is when we both listened to a podcast of Bell’s then shortly-lived SiriusXM show “Dark Matter” while on the way home from a weekend in Wisconsin.
For my dad’s birthday last year, I bought him an Amazon Echo Dot so that he could easily stream any radio station he wanted without having to bother with the dials and static interference of an basic terrestrial radio, which he had still been reliant on. As I was helping him setup the Echo Dot, I was explaining to him how he could also listen to Internet only streams beyond terrestrial radio, when I thought of TuneIn Radio. I had come across years ago various streams on TuneIn that (illegally) played Bell’s older shows. To my surprise, those channels still existed. I wrote them down and taught him how to play those streams on the Echo.
Today, it is my father who now shares with me some of the not so ordinary things he hears while listening to those old Art Bell shows. Even though we both are well aware that the subject matter is mostly nonsense, we have enjoyed partaking on the ride.
Thank you, Art.