Coast To Coast
13 - 16 minute read
Coast to Coast AM (C2C) is an American late-night syndicated radio talk show which deals with a variety of topics, but most frequently ones that relate either to the paranormal, or to alleged conspiracies. It was created by Art Bell, airs seven nights a week 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. Pacific Time, and is distributed by Premiere Radio Networks.
Format and subject matter
Coast to Coast AM covers unusual topics, and is full of personal stories related by callers. While program content varies, most nights are focused toward the paranormal, and subjects such as the occult, remote viewing, hauntings, shadow people, psychic predictions, conspiracy theories, UFOs, crop circles, cryptozoology and science fiction literature, among other paranormal and unusual topics.
After the theme song is played (Giorgio Moroder's "The Chase" from Midnight Express), the broadcast is typically kicked off with a reading of current events or news stories by the host, usually with at least one bizarre or peculiar story. This is usually followed by a guest interview for the rest of the first hour (with open phone lines if there is enough time), then a lengthier two-hour interview with a second guest. The last hour is dedicated to open lines (see below), where callers may ask questions of the second guest. Every so often, host George Noory will flip the show's format and have the longer interview guest on first to fill the first three hours of the show. In this format, the primary interview begins after the reading of the news and then the first break. In the last hour in this "flipped" format, the last hour will sometimes feature guest with a shorter subject or, more often than not, be simply an hour of open lines. Occasionally, round table discussions are held on one of the show's common topics. Conventional topics are sometimes discussed, with interviews with notable authors and political talk sometimes featured.
On rare occasions, hosts have cut interviews short when it became clear that guests were being dishonest, unethical, unintelligible, abusive, or patronizing. When this happens, the rest of the show will be filled with open lines. Guests that have interviews cut short due to bad phone connections for example, or at the last minute becoming unavailable will generally be rescheduled for a later date.
Some guests have been challenged, or like Sylvia Browne, banned for such behavior.1 However, the overall tone of the show is generally friendly toward paranormal and fringe views, and apart from panel discussions and advertised debates, guests are generally free to air their views unopposed.
In 2008, George Noory volunteered an elaboration of the show's policy respecting the controversial opinions of regular guests. He explained that, provided there was no element of hostility toward third parties, it was program policy to allow expression of opinion unchallenged. He gave as an example Richard C. Hoagland's contention that features on Mars are artificial, constructed by a civilization that once inhabited the planet. Noory accepted that this opinion has no support whatsoever in the planetary science community, but said that C2C exists in part to provide a forum for such eccentric ideas. He added that, since guests are never paid appearance fees, it is inevitable that promotion of books, videos, and web sites is often a motivation for guests to sacrifice a night's sleep.
During hours of "open lines", calls are taken and put on air. Under George Noory, open lines have added topics for callers to share their experiences or stories about a particular issue or situation. The show has multiple call-in numbers, of which there are always at least five (as of 2005) for:
- "East of the Rockies"
- "West of the Rockies"
- "First-time callers"
- "International callers"
- A "wild card" line
They are all announced at the beginning of each broadcast by Ross Mitchell. As of 2007, George Noory has added a "Special Line", which is a dedicated line, with varying subjects, such as the "People who are Aliens", "Time Travellers", "Area 51 personnel". On special occasions, Coast to Coast AM rolls out more numbers, including lines that are reserved for special "themed" callers, for example those who claim to be from other dimensions, time periods, and those possessed by spirits.
The Halloween edition of Coast to Coast AM becomes Ghost to Ghost AM, as listeners call in with their ghost stories. The New Year's Eve show usually entails listeners calling in their predictions for the coming year, and the host (commonly Art Bell) rating the predictions made a year earlier. In recent years, the host of the New Year's Eve prediction show has been cautioning the open line callers that they may not predict the assassination of any person or the death of the US president.
George Noory hosts the show weekdays, and the first Sunday of every month. Ian Punnett hosts Saturday nights, and the second Sunday of every month. George Knapp hosts the 3rd and 4th Sunday of each month, and when there is a 5th Sunday, Art Bell or a fill-in hosts the show.
Coast to Coast AM is broadcast on over 500 United States affiliates, as well as numerous Canadian affiliates, several of which stream the show on their station's Web site. The show's Streamlink service offers live Internet feeds of the show by subscription. The program is also broadcast on Satellite Radio in the United States, on Talk Radio 165. Currently, the XM channel is not available to XM Radio Canada subscribers due to CanCon regulations limiting content produced outside of Canada.
Coast to Coast AM is also available via C-Band on the W3 (GE3) Transponder 18, Sub-Carrier 6.8 MHz wide band. There are several feeds and re-feeds of the show.
- A re-feed of the previous weekday show's last three hours is played Monday through Friday at 10 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Pacific. Weekend shows are exempt from this feed.
- The live show is fed every night at 1 a.m. Eastern/10 p.m. Pacific.
- Following the live show, another re-feed is broadcast every morning at 5 a.m. Eastern/2 a.m. Pacific.
- Art Bell, Somewhere in Time is fed Saturday nights at 9 p.m. Eastern/6 p.m. Pacific.
- A four hour George Noory "best-of" show is fed Sunday nights at 9 p.m. Eastern/6 p.m. Pacific.
The show's complete schedule can be found on its website. Because the show is so frequently repeated, audible cue signals are inserted at the beginning and end of commercial breaks, to facilitate substitution of commercials by local stations.
- Loren Coleman - A cryptozoologist and author on issues relating to new animal discoveries and the sightings of Bigfoot, Yeti, Nessie, and other cryptids, he has been a program guest over a dozen times.
- Rosemary Ellen Guiley - An author who discusses paranormal, visionary, and spiritual topics. A frequent guest since 1997.
- Richard C. Hoagland - A controversial author on issues relating to NASA's activities, space anomalies and alleged extraterrestrial architecture (the Face on Mars, structures on the Moon, anomalies in the moons of Jupiter and Saturn). He is described as the program's science advisor, (albeit only by Noory), although he lacks qualification in any branch of science.
- Alex Jones - An American radio host, New World Order conspiracy theorist, political activist and filmmaker.
- Michio Kaku - A mainstream theoretical physicist. Dr. Kaku is typically drawn into discussions that find him explaining string theory, quantum physics, astrophysics, and other hard sciences in easily understandable and very entertaining ways.
- Dr. Louis Turi - A self-promoted hypnotherapist and "astropsychologist," author of 4 books, and motivational speaker.
- Dr. Evelyn Paglini - A parapsychologist who is a self-promoted psychic and witch.
- Lionel Fanthorpe - Lionel Fanthorpe was born in England and has worked as a journalist and teacher. He is currently Director of Media Studies at Cardiff Academy and claims to be a fully ordained Anglican Priest working part-time and unpaid for the Church in Wales. Lionel is President of ASSAP (the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena) and is also the President of BUFORA (the British UFO Research Association). He is now a popular TV and radio presenter and celebrity guest on chat shows. Lionel is also the author of over 250 books.
- Linda Moulton Howe - A reporter and UFOlogist, appears monthly on Coast to Coast AM, and segments of her audio and video presentations are often played on the show. The most common subjects discussed by Linda Moulton Howe relate to astronomy and unidentified flying object sightings, but more recently she has also discussed and investigated cases of cattle mutilation and agricultural phenomena involving systemic pesticides and their suspected effects on moths and honeybees, including the colony collapse disorder reported in the United States, Spain, and Poland. George Noory has referred to Howe as an investigative reporter for the show and refers to phone call segments with Howe as "Conversations with Linda."
- "Dr. Sky" (Steve Kates) - An astronomy journalist who discusses planetary events and weather patterns.
- Peter Davenport (Ufologist) - Head of the National UFO Reporting Center.
Below is a list of some widely popular or regular listener callers to the show.
- J.C. Webster the Third, or "J.C." – Also an occasional guest. J.C. began calling in 1996, and has since been on the air over 50 times. He features himself to be a Revival Baptist preacher, and the leader of "C.L.A.M.P.," the Christian Legion Against Media Pornography. He claims to be in "direct communication with the Lord," transcribing God's "New Revelation" and "New Commandments," with his proclaimed mission being "to save America." Although some have expressed disbelief that someone like J.C. could exist, Art Bell and George Noory have repeated their beliefs that J.C. is real, and have said he is neither a "put on" nor a "plant."2
- Oscar - A self-proclaimed demonic entity.
- Mel Waters - Former "owner" of Mel's Hole, a "bottomless" pit.
- Phil Hill or "UFO Phil" - Eccentric songwriter (focusing on the paranormal) and UFOlogist who claims to have been abducted by aliens. On Friday nights, George usually closes the program with UFO Phil's song "Listening to Coast to Coast".
- "Bugs" - Aging farmer who has repeatedly told of his account of shooting and burying two Bigfoot creatures back in the 1970s, in the Texas Panhandle, initially thinking they were bears. Bugs mailed a map of the location of this "burial" to Art Bell, to be released to the public upon Bugs' death. During his first appearance in 1996, Bugs said he had taken a dozen Polaroid photos of the creatures he would be willing to send to Art. None of the alleged photos have yet been made available.
Other associated shows
Several shows associated with Coast to Coast AM have aired in the slot immediately preceding the late Saturday night edition of the program, from 6-10 PM Pacific time.
Dreamland was another Art Bell creation, nearly identical to Coast-to-Coast AM but less caller driven. Bell hosted Dreamland on early Sunday evenings, until he relinquished control of the show to Whitley Strieber. It continued to precede Coast-to-Coast AM on most affiliate stations on Sunday nights but moved to Saturday night (after Premiere Radio began to syndicate Matt Drudge) and then dropped the program entirely. It is now heard over the Internet exclusively3.
Dreamland continues to focus on many of the same topics as its sister program, although often with a more spiritual point-of-view, as well as an increased emphasis on extra-terrestrials.
Coast to Coast Live
Upon Art Bell's January 2006 return, Ian Punnett hosted Coast To Coast Live on Saturdays from 9 pm to 1 am Eastern Time. A spin-off of the original Coast to Coast AM, the show covered similar topics as its flagship program. With Bell's July 2007 retirement, C2CLive was discontinued, with Punnett returning to host the regular Saturday edition.
Art Bell, Somewhere in Time
Replacing C2CLive in the late Saturday time slot is a series of reruns of classic Art Bell episodes of C2CAM, under the name of "Somewhere in Time."
The radio show publishes a monthly newsletter for subscribers called After Dark. It discusses matters covered on the show. It has fourteen inner pages. Approximately 46% of the fourteen pages are illustrations and photos instead of text. The front cover is artwork. The back cover is a schedule listing of recent shows.
References in popular culture
An excerpt of one show is used in the song "Faaip de Oiad" by the band Tool, in Lateralus (2001). The song samples a supposed employee from Area 51, who called Art Bell on September 11th, 1997 at about 11 p.m. PST.
The song "All the Children Are Dead" by Venetian Snares uses excerpts from a caller retelling a story from his grandfather, who was once on the police force, who tells about his deputy finding a pit of dead bodies in a closed down factory. It appears on his 2001 album Doll Doll Doll.
Coast to Coast AM is spoofed in the popular video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, as a radio segment on WCTR aptly-named "Area 53." Area 53's host and callers would make ludicrous claims, such as video games giving people malaria, or cheese being the "new weapon in the fight against communism". The slogan of the show is "Prepare to be appalled!"
In 2006, Bell was featured in the video game "Prey" and played himself. He hosts, as in real life, Coast to Coast AM, and the player is able to listen to the broadcast at several terminals throughout the game. The broadcasts detail what is happening on Earth during the time of the game.
Bell also has a brief cameo in the 2007 film I Know Who Killed Me, in which he explains a supernatural plot twist.
Sean Hogan released a song in 2006, on his album "Catalina Sunrise," called "Conspiracy Radio" about Coast to Coast AM and Art Bell.
A track on Islands' Return to the Sea begins with an excerpt of frequent caller Oscar predicting a large super volcano to explode "in 2007."
Crystal Gayle's song "Midnight in the Desert" is a tribute to Coast to Coast AM and Art Bell; Bell has since used the song as the end theme of all shows hosted by him.
The location of the Martian landing in the film Mars Attacks! is Pahrump, Nevada, hometown of Art Bell.
Art Bell and his radio show were featured on the January 22, 1999 episode of the television series "Millennium" entitled "Collateral Damage."
The eccentric itinerant AM radio host seen in the alien-themed Stephen Spielberg mini-series, "Taken", is modeled on Art Bell.
Referred to on Seven Days, a time traveling TV show. One of the leading stars said that not all people listen to Art Bell, when the main star asked about something that was on the radio.
The satirical Phil Hendrie Show used to begin some hours with a mockup of the open Coast to Coast airs every hour. A deep, gravely voice would give out the numbers for callers East of the Rockies, West of the Rockies, the first-time caller line and the wild card line, but every single one would be the same phone number.