Is This the End of Art Bell’s Dark Matter?

By on November 4, 2013 // Entertainment // 12 Comments

artb-bell-dark-matter

Well, folks, it’s been what? Six weeks? Seven? Art Bell’s Dark Matter hit the ground running on September 16, 2013, but as of tonight its time on the air may be coming to an end.

Here’s the story: At the end of last week’s Spooky Matter Halloween show, Art Bell revealed that he’d reached out to SiriusXM and asked if they would allow him to stream live episodes of Dark Matter, for free, on his website at ArtBell.com.

Now, at the time I thought this was an odd request. Not because it’s a bad idea necessarily, but because, from a business standpoint, SiriusXM likely wouldn’t play ball. Why would they? They’re a subscription-based service, and that’s not how things tend to work even though we’d like them to.

Later, an article was posted at ArtBell.com detailing the request:

“Art makes an important announcement concerning the future of the show. He’s concerned that the SiriusXM streaming mobile app and web player are not up to the job (1001 errors) and suggests that we (artbell.com) serve the program LIVE using other Internet streaming protocols (Icecast), to allow a more favorable listening experience and to allow the streaming of the LIVE program for FREE all over the world.

You would still use your SiriusXM subscription to listen to the archives on demand, and be able to download programs with your SiriusXM mobile app to listen while off line. The LIVE program would be available for 4 hours each of the 4 days a week via an alternative streaming service, on ArtBell.com, allowing a larger audience to call in and participate.”

That’s nice. I personally haven’t had any real issues with the SiriusXM app or website. I think I may have lost my connection once on my smartphone, and I listened to every show. Now, I understand that others have had problems, but even so, that was a pretty bold request.

Fast forward to tonight, and I notice that the guest list has suddenly become blank. Then this pops up on Art Bell’s Facebook page (which, if what I’m reading is correct, has been deactivated):

“Sometimes when you are “all in” you win, sometimes lose.

By mutual agreement, Dark Matter will no longer air as of tonight.”

That was unexpected.

artbelldarkmatter

Now, I don’t know what’s really going on here. Was this actually over a dispute with SiriusXM about streaming the show on ArtBell.com? Why did anyone have to go “all in” on anything? Does Art Bell have other plans?

To paint a somewhat clearer picture, here’s what we have so far.

Art Bell sent the following email to a member of BellGab.com with some explanation (it appears now to be an automated response):

“I started the show with the expectation that my listener’s would be able to stream the show since most were coming from AM. They started the thirty day trial and found that it was dropping out on them every few minutes. After the 30 day trial most did not renew, why would they?

Faced with paying about $180 bucks a Year for something that was not working right, what would you do? So I lost my base. My show is based on call in, if all I am left with is Truck drivers with cell phones going down the road at 70 MPH, well you get the idea. So I asked Sirius to allow free streaming for a Year until they could fix their problems and they said no. The show was simply not viable under these conditions.”

If subscriptions are being cancelled and fewer listeners are calling in due to problems actually accessing the show (or an unwillingness to subscribe), I guess that’s a real concern. In fact, the lack of callers was almost obvious in the number of times the same people were able to get on the air. Art Bell sent another email to a member of BellGab.com elaborating on this:

“I saw a post recently on Bell Gab that said the Spooky Matter show was the weakest ever. I agree, and it would be downhill from there under the current situation. I thought it was entirely reasonable to ask for a Year to try and reach the users who had tried the 30 day trial and threw up their hands and left. All I wanted was streaming that worked.

The success of my original show and the new show depended on callers, many of my best shows were as a result of open lines. Yes I could fill the lines with truckers, bless their hearts, but I could not have made the kind of show that you and all the other callers had a right to expect. Cell phones just do not work well going down the street at 70 MPH.”

We still had the guests, though, right? And I don’t think SiriusXM had any intention of cancelling a show they had only just begun. This was a different format on a subscription-based service, a far cry from free AM radio. Of course things were going to be different. A new audience needed to be built.

As to whether or not Art Bell may be thinking about hosting a podcast or show on his website without SiriusXM’s involvement, this was the reply found on ArtBell.com’s Facebook page:

artbellcomfacebook

Then again, there’s this little snippet that appeared on the website itself:

“We are sorry that Dark Matter on SiriusXM has come to an abrupt end. We’ll examine our options and may be able to return in a different format and medium.

In the mean time, ArtBell.com will still operate as long as financially possible, hoping for a workable solution to bring Art back to you, soon. Keep checking back here often.”

I guess we’ll see what happens. It’s way too early to tell, but I thought I’d post my reaction, anyway. And who knows? This may not even be the end of Dark Matter. Perhaps it’s the beginning of something else.

Talk about strange…

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About the Author

Rob Schwarz is a writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. He manages Stranger Dimensions in between changing aquarium filters and reading bad novels about mermaids.
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  • RyanB

    While I wanna be surprised I really cannot be. The guests and topics were only so-so, and the subject matter was really no different than Coast. When you can get one program for free, why pay to get the same thing?

    • Rob

      I don’t disagree. That’s why I feel the show needed much more time. Much longer than just six weeks, despite any issues with Internet streaming. A new audience needed to be cultivated, because it was never going to reach the same audience as Coast.

      Now would’ve been the time to adapt the show, make changes if he felt things weren’t going well. Not leave it hanging.

      I’d like to see the numbers. How many people were listening? How many were actually having problems with the stream? How many were fine with the show despite the issues?

      I just hope he didn’t make this decision based on a few comments on the Internet, because it’s very unlikely those are representative of the entire audience.

    • RyanB

      I think the numbers are everything. I would also be most interested to see them. It had potential to thrive, and be compelling. It was mishandled as Mr. Hogue pointed out in the link that was posted. Best of luck to Art, it was nice hearing him, if even for a little while

    • Jeff_Dowder

      Sirius/XM never releases listener numbers by individual channels. They will only release total subscribers to their entire platform.

    • Rob

      Well, no, and I’d never expect them to. I’m just saying…it’d be interesting to see the actual numbers so we could see what the truth is.

  • Jeff_Dowder

    Maybe Art should offer to work for “free” during that one year period that he wants Sirius/XM to give away exclusive content for “free”.

    • Rob

      Actually, if what he posted over at BellGab is true, he has made that offer:

      “I have asked Sirius to allow me to act as a Private Broadcaster, then as other shows do, I could stay on Sirius and would be free to stream all I want. If they go for that all will be well, It would mean no pay from Sirius but I am good with that, I do not need the money. If Sirius says no, then I will, at the first opportunity stream from artbell.com.”

      http://bellgab.com/index.php?topic=5069.msg186944#msg186944

      But I don’t know about any of that. Whole thing is just weird…

  • stan kubric

    I am getting tired of Art’s temper tantrums. The reason for his fallout with Clear Channel was bogus. My employer does not pay legal fees for personal law suits, as much as I understand Art’s point, Clear Channel was in the right.

    As someone who listened to Art from when he had about 150 affiliates I had high hopes for his new show, as I can’t stand George Noory. Noory is possibly the worst interviewer I have ever heard. It seems at times he is not even listening to the guest.

    I think satalite was the worst medium he could have chosen for a comeback, and I suspect the real numbers show that, not to mention Art seems to have lost a step or two.

    I think the thing is failing out of the gate, and Art is blaming everyone else, and SiriusXm is not getting what they expected, so are not going to through money at a stumbling horse.

    You were the best Art, but maybe it’s time to just enjoy life.

    • Rob

      Thanks for your comment.

      I honestly can’t blame SiriusXM for any of this. I just can’t comprehend what Art Bell was expecting by going with satellite radio. It was never going to compare to AM.

      Even then, I thought the show was fine. I mean, I’m not one of those super hardcore Art Bell fans, not personally. I’ve written about him a lot. I’ve always enjoyed those old Coast to Coast AM shows, and I’m a fan of his ability to interview and wrangle guests. But it’s all about the stories to me, not the people.

      So, from my perspective…the more I read, the more soured I am about the whole thing. I was optimistic/confused when I wrote the above post, and excited when Dark Matter premiered, but now I’m ready to just walk away. I’m expecting SiriusXM to do the same.

    • Justin N

      Hey guys. I like you was super happy when I heard he was back on, and I have to give him credit that he did what he felt was right. Although I think some of the posters are right that likely it was a small minority of people having problems and he was trying to please everyone. Its a different forum than AM for sure, and given time I bet he could have had a show that competed with C2C because we all know Goerge Norey is the worst interviewer. Handling everyone with kids gloves and it was insulting to the whole idea of the show that Art had created(with the help of fans) Thats why when Art was back on that I was like finally someone who will challenge his guests and listeners to actually think and respond to legitimate questions. I loved when had Dick Hogland on, and shot him down repeatedly, but at the same time when Richard had something truly interesting he was right there with Richard wondering and encouraging others to wonder as well.
      Does anyone truly think that Ian Punnet left C2C because of tinnitus. No I cant speak for Ian but I think the real reason he left was that the show was becoming a joke. And you could see this by Ian only doing fact based guests about History and true crime. Ian as well challenged his guest. I really cant say how much I liked both shows but I know Goerge Norey is a disappointment to what I got used to. I in fact have been listening to mainly skeptic podcasts now, and spend most of my time laughing at C2C then I am actually wondering.

  • tonysal

    I don’t know what Art is thinking, if he is getting paid by Sirius he should not give a hoot about if his callers are driving down the road or listening in their homes. I think that even though it was a slow start as time went on he would have been able to build his listening audience with time. One listener at a time. AM radio is DEAD ( George who), internet radio may have some promise, but satellite radio is here to stay and the fans are loyal. I have been with Sirius since the the day they went on the air and I believe that they have just started to evolve and Art is a good fit. I hope will rethink his decision to require Sirius to let his show air for free on his site. If his old AM radio fans want to listen they can BUY A RADIO AND SUBSCRIPTION like everyone else. That is the format of satellite radio, again I hope Art can come to terms with Sirius I like his show and was willing to listen. DON”T QUIT ART ! Babba booey to ya all…

    • hrflikk

      WAAAAAAAAT, i live in norway, satelitt radio?? What is that? i just use internett radio, an i hawe internett radio im my car to. so wy the frack do u use sattelit, do u drive whit a big sattelit dics on the roof on you car?? Haha. internett radio is the future an it totaly rules.