Art Bell’s late-night radio talk-show Coast to Coast AM is the most popular of the late night shows on the radio and has been ranked the fourth most popular of all radio shows in the United States.
Its recurring themes are the paranormal, weather and earth changes, UFOs and alien abductions, and governmental attempts to hide the truth about extraterrestrial visits and NASA explorations from the public. Bell, whose politics are Libertarian rather than right-wing Republican, rarely engages in political discussions that are not associated with the show’s main focus.
Bell, who was born 17 June 1945, in Jacksonville, North Carolina, has spent almost his entire career in radio. In his early years he was a rock music disk jockey who in 1978 became the host of a late-night talk-show called West Coast AM on KDWN in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In 1988 Bell, with the help of Alan Corbeth, renamed the show Coast to Coast AM and syndicated it through the Chancellor Broadcasting Company, moving its broadcast from the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas to his home in Pahrump, Nevada.
Coast to Coast AM, which began with a total of 17 radio stations located in the western United States, now has over 500 affiliates in the United States and Canada and an estimated audience of 10 million listeners.
Bell’s most well-known conspiracy theorist guest is Richard C. Hoagland, who claims that NASA has an entirely secret alternative research agenda kept hidden from the citizens of the United States, and that NASA has fought to prevent the world knowing about an earlier presence of life on Mars.
Other frequent guests include Kathleen Keating, who claims to know the identity of the Antichrist and predicts that a coup in the Vatican will unseat Pope John Paul II, and Major Ed Dames, a proponent of remote viewing who has proposed a myriad of secret schemes and cover-ups.
Writer Whitley Strieber, the author of the alien abduction narrative Communion, who believes that UFO witnesses are being silenced by various means, was also a frequent guest before taking over Bell’s other radio show, Dreamland.
Area 51, the government base that remains cloaked in secrecy, is located very close to Bell’s home and is also a favorite topic for the show. Bell’s show airs from 1 A.M. to 6 A.M., Eastern Standard Time, and he typically allows his guests a great deal of freedom to propound their ideas before soliciting callers to question them.
Coast to Coast AM was implicated in the suicide of the thirty-nine members of the Heaven’s Gate cult in 1997 when an amateur astronomer informed Bell’s audience that a vehicle was flying behind the Hale-Bopp comet; this claim was validated on the air by Dr. Courtney Brown, a proponent of the reputed psychic phenomenon of “remote viewing.”
Although the Heaven’s Gate cult denied this connection to their actions and Bell revealed that Brown had used incorrect evidence for his statement, the media continued to link Bell’s show with the tragedy.
Art Bell’s personal and professional life has also been the source of speculation and conspiracy theory. In October 1998 he announced he was leaving Coast to Coast AM permanently but returned weeks later, refusing to reveal the reason for his absence.
The media subsequently reported his son’s molestation by an HIV-positive teacher in Nye County, Nevada, an event that led to Bell’s retirement in April 2000 when he sued a Nashville, Tennessee, short-wave radio station for broadcasting slanderous information that he was a child molester. After this suit was settled he returned to Coast to Coast AM in February 2001.
Bell is the author of four books, The Art of Talk (1995), The Quickening (1997), The Source (with Brad Steiger) (1999), and The Coming Global Superstorm (with Whitley Strieber) (1999), and publishes a monthly magazine called After Dark that presents issues discussed on his program.
He has been interviewed on a number of television programs, including The Today Show and Larry King Live, and has been featured on an episode of Dark Skies, a show about the governmental coverup of extraterrestrial life on earth, and on Millennium, when he played himself.