Where I’m from, Coast to Coast AM begins at the stroke of Midnight.
It was a long time ago, up late on a school night, when I first heard it. I don’t even remember why. I guess I was just bored and, despite never usually listening to the radio, much less AM, I thought I’d scan the airwaves and see what was on.
Among the static and the monotone voices of other channels, I eventually tuned into an old woman telling a ghost story, of all things. Then, the low, mysterious voice of a late night host, asking questions and discussing topics I’d never really heard outside my old Daniel Cohen books and Unsolved Mysteries. Before the Internet was as big as it is, before broadband, before Ghost Adventures, there he was.
I didn’t know that host’s name back then. I do now.
You’ve probably heard the news: Art Bell passed away on April 13, 2018 at his home in Pahrump, Nevada. He was 72.
There’s really not much more to add here that hasn’t already been said, but to anyone who’s read Stranger Dimensions over the years, you know that Mr. Bell was the biggest influence on my interest in the paranormal and the topics I’ve explored here.
The John Titor faxes. The Area 51 Caller. Mel’s Hole and Single Seven and Open Time Lines. My favorite episode of Coast will always and forever be Dallas Thompson and Bell’s own slow descent into “Is this guy for real?” No, I’m not convinced, but there are certain times when the mood is right that yes, maybe, I believe the Earth is hollow.
I think that’s what separated Art Bell from other hosts, beyond his voice. He believed his guests in those moments, and even if he didn’t, he respected them and asked the right questions, unraveling their stories late into the night (in good ways and, sometimes, comical ways). It never felt cynical to me.
He always took us for a ride, no matter the destination.
Most of all, he was a trailblazer, and I think that might be the root of his starts and stops over the years. He liked building new things, starting new endeavors, doing it differently or not at all. Of course, things didn’t always go as planned. When do they ever?
Art Bell has moved on, and to be honest I still haven’t quite registered that fact. We’ll never hear him intro a new show ever again. But if it’s even the tiniest bit possible, I imagine he’s sitting at a radio station on the other side right now, ready and waiting to make contact, somehow. If not, his voice will remain right here, in the airwaves, on websites like this, and in temporal archives in the distant future.
I remember; a time traveler once told him so.