PAHRUMP – The master of the macabre is returning to radio. Late night radio kingpin Art Bell, who started his career at a Las Vegas station before he became an international star, has been off the air for a few years but is returning soon – returning not only to radio, but to a laundry list of weird topics that tend to give his listeners a case of the heebie-jeebies.
Bell gave his only TV interview to a reporter he has worked with over the years – the I-Team’s George Knapp.
“My favorite line from ‘Contact’ is, ‘Wanna take a ride? Well, we are going to take a ride here.”
The fact that Art Bell will be sitting in front of a microphone again, broadcasting from the high desert “in the kingdom of Nye” is deliriously good news to his legions of fans all over the world. And it’s fitting that his new show, “Art Bell’s Dark Matter” will be beamed to earth via an extraterrestrial source — that is, satellite radio, because, for years, Bell fed and nurtured the public appetite for space aliens, abductions, ghosts, and things that go bump in the night, topics which now dominate cable TV and the internet.
“I love that stuff. The world has changed, only in the sense that what I did back then is now times 10,” Bell said.
“These questions, deep questions like, life after death, is there any? Ufos? People from elsewhere, things from elsewhere … ghosts … those questions are still there and bigger now … as we get older, we wonder more about these things. I certainly do.”
Bell almost singlehandedly reinvented late-night radio when, in the late 70′s, he turned a political talk show on Las Vegas station K-Dawn into a forum for the paranormal, covering topics long ignored by other media: the mysteries of area 51, for example, and time travel and climate change.
Soon, his program was syndicated on more than 400 stations with upwards of 12 million listeners…and bell, who says he has a face for radio, became a reluctant celebrity.
Like it or not, his personal life has played out on the air. For a time, he lived in the Philippines. These days, he is back in Pahrump, Nevada, in the same house where it all began, but has a new wife and young daughter, and soon, the new show.
“There is something about Pahrump that I love, and the desert that I love, George. I guess that never changes.”
“I don’t know. It is something in our air, something in our water, but we seem motivated to explore that which other people don’t,” Bell said.
In the 90′s, Bell stepped away from the airwaves after his son was victimized in a terrible crime. The program he’d created had morphed into “Coast to Coast AM,” and carried on without him, primarily hosted by George Noory. Bell returned as a part-timer, hosted a dozen or so programs each year but left for good in 2010.
Since then, he’s been approached with other radio and TV offers but turned all of them down until Sirius XM knocked on the door. The new program will air in an earlier time slot each weeknight so it’s not directly up against coast to coast. Bell says there is plenty of room for both.
“I think that a good show in this genre will raise all boats and I think competition is a good thing,” Bell said.
He plans to tackle familiar topics and chat with a stable of his favorite guests. The marching orders from the new network were pretty loose.
“Just go on the air and have fun, and that’s what I’m going to do.”