Radio Analog

Coast to Coast AM and Art Bell: The Soundtrack to My College Existence

My Radio Years

In the late 90s, I was a college student by day and a talk radio board operator/call screener by night. I worked for my local news/talk station running the board for the afternoon drive show and for the news broadcasts at the top and the bottom of every hour. When the talk show would end, I then moved over to the sports station next door and inserted commercials into various sporting events while doing any school work I needed to complete for the next day. It was a sweet gig. Low paying, mind you, but enjoyable nonetheless. I met lots of interesting people, and even though my studies took me down a different career path, I’ll always love my time spent in radioland.

My Old Nightly Routine

Often, I would find myself leaving the sports station late at night. Thanks Braves rain delays! On my way out, I would duck back into the news/talk station to make sure things were running smoothly for the night. I’d linger a bit, waiting for a certain host to take to the airwaves. That host was Art Bell and the program was Coast to Coast AM. I would hang around and listen to the thumping beat of the show’s opening theme, the theme from Midnight Express. I’d also stick around, off the clock, for the show’s first segment. There was something downright romantic about taking it all in there in the darkened studio, the only light coming from the soundboard and computer screen in front of me.

After the first segment, I would transition to my car, and begin my drive home. I’d stretch out my return commute a bit, taking the long way on purpose just to hear more of what Art had to offer while driving down deserted roads. I should point out that Coast to Coast AM didn’t offer any sort of subscription download service at that time. Unless I was willing to pull an all nighter, I was rarely able to hear every interview in its entirety.

Once I arrived at home I would put on my headset radio, you know the kind with the antenna that sticks up from one side, and go out for a late night jog. I did all of my exercising under the cloak of darkness back then. Anyway, I’d tune into Art and keep the party going as I ran around in the shadows, often times getting hellaciously creeped out by the subject matter of Art’s program which mostly dealt with the supernatural.

When I finished my workout, just before bed, I would end my day by logging onto Art’s website so I could checkout his web forum. I can remember a time in the early 2000s when his message board contained communications from the mysterious “time traveller”, John Titor. I can remember reading all of these posts in real time. Gosh, did I ever sleep back then? It felt like the most amazing time to be alive. Art’s site also had this cool Star Trek console visual theme at the time. I’m not sure why I remember that, but it’s stuck in my brain so there ya go.

My Life Today

I eventually earned my degree, left radio for software development, and switched to a less vampiric life schedule. Coast to Coast AM eventually offered a subscription service too, so I’ve been able to stick with the program off and on over the years. George Noory, the show’s current host, is a different animal to say the least, but he still scratches the itch so to speak. Streaming Noory by day isn’t the same as experiencing Art in the dead of night, but I’ll take what I can get.

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