Fittingly, purveyor of paranormal and paranoiac misinformation Art Bell died on Friday the 13th. Bell was the originator of the syndicated Coast-to-Coast AM radio show, which began in 1992 as yet another right-leaning AM radio talk show, but quickly moved into paranormal subjects, such as Bigfoot, UFOs, psychic ability, and other exemplars of WOO! Until recently, I thought that Bell pioneered the late night weird radio format, but it turns out that he largely took the schtick of John Nebel, a late-night radio host who broadcast tales from crazy people from the 1950s to the 1970s. Bell took the Nebel model and ran with it, far.
As someone who has long worked an unconventional schedule, I have to confess that I have on occasion hate-listened to 'late night Sasquatch radio'- I am a fan of weird pulp fiction, and Bell's guests were spinning yarns that they, unfortunately, tried to pass off as true. Bell played straight man to the various lunatics that he invited to the public airwaves- he maintained a neutral pose: certainly not skeptical, but not particularly credulous. While he took calls from random weirdos with bizarre narratives, many of his guests were well-known weirdos such as UFO encounter auteur Whitley Streiber, reactionary religious crank Malachi Martin, ancient aliens loon Erich von Däniken, and clairvoyant grifter/doomsayer Ed Dames. UFOs, demonic possession, remote viewing, cryptids, hybrids, bottomless pits, solar flare 'killshots', and killer Planet Xes- all sorts of bizarre topics were aired by Bell. Basically, anybody who cheated on their 'psionics roll' in the role-playing game we call life was a prime candidate for guest spot on 'Coast'.
A search of YouTube will uncover a plethora of full 'Coast to Coast AM' episodes, but I wouldn't torture my readers with three hour psychological onslaughts (yeah, do you really want to listen to three hours of a fake psychic trying to spy on Satan with clairvoyance?). There are a couple of shorter clips of Bell doing his thing, such as this clip of him with von Däniken:
Here's another clip of Bell receiving a call from some guy claiming to have worked at Area 51:
If you have a strong stomach for this sort of material, there's a shitton of it out there. Personally, I believe that Art Bell had a pernicious effect on our society, paving the way for such cranks and hucksters as Alex Jones and newcomer Liz Crokin. The garbage 'Ancient Aliens' content on formerly respectable cable TV channels can be laid at his feet to a large extent. He made his living peddling parsnormal pablum and paranoia, preying on the mentally ill, the misinformed, the credulous... kinda like a secular version of a particularly scammy preacher. Sure, in small doses it can be entertaining in the same fashion as the Weekly World News was entertaining, but too many people have been snookered by this sort of crap.