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C2C goes "Host to Host"

7.24.5 UPDATE :

In response to a plethora of interest from binnallofamerica.com visitors, we are proud to present Saturday Night Punnett. Enjoy.

7.23.5 UPDATE :

On Monday evening and then at the end of Friday's show, George Noory clarified the new weekend hosting schedule for C2C, with Punnett on Saturdays regularly, Bell on Sundays twice a month, with Noory popping in to host an occassional Sunday. No mention of Hilly Rose or what will happen on Sunday without Noory or Bell.

7.17.5 UPDATE :

On the 7.16.5 Coast to Coast AM, Ian Punnett announced a new schedule for Coast on weekends, where he (Punnett) would be hosting on Saturdays and Art Bell would be hosting on Sundays. No word yet on whether this means Art will be hosting every Sunday or just 2 Sundays a month. Should Bell be hosting every Sunday night, this may curtail any chances of Hilly Rose having a more regular presence on the show.

The direct quote from Punnett : "Although I couldn't say this the last time we were chatting, a week ago, because the details just weren't worked out yet. It appears as though it would be best for everybody if Art will continue to do Sunday nights and he will then make room for me on Saturday nights. As this will become, then, the permanent slot that I will do in a week of what we hope are always terrific shows on Coast to Coast AM."


Less is more. Or at least that is what Art Bell was trying to say when he announced that he was cutting back on his weekend hosting duties from every weekend to every other Saturday. With that, the landscape of C2C was swiftly changed.

Out was Art Bell on Sundays and in was former C2C rotating host Ian Punnett. Saturdays are still somewhat of a mystery, as C2C says "Hilly Rose, "Best of" shows, and other guest hosts will cover the remaining Saturdays." Meanwhile, Art alluded to rare Saturday George Noory hostings as well as "classic episodes", making them sound rather rare and not your run-of-the-mill C2C rebroadcasts. And, Art will be on twice a month on alternative Saturdays.

Being that binnallofamerica.com seems to have carved out its niche observing the esoteric talk radio world, we felt it only appropriate to take an in-depth look at this sea change on Coast to Coast AM. This started as a structured look at the changes coming to C2C, but quickly turned to a more "stream of consciousness" look at what this all means.

Ocham's Razor

Let's get this out of the way first. Moments after Art Bell made his announcement, the conspiracy theorists were out in full force. For the record, I do not think Art Bell was "forced out" by any nefarious schemes or cliques. Sadly, neither the maitreya nor the trilateral commission nor the ETs nor Majestic 12 or the Illuminati (Bavarian or German, take your pick) nor the 911 Truth Movement or the Fake Moon Landing movement played a hand in Art Bell stepping back from Coast. At least, I don't think so. General disgruntlement with "the network" aside, I find it hard to believe it would be enough for them to push him out of the weekend spots, considering the hit the ratings may now take.

And while I am a diehard conspiracy theorist, I cannot subscribe to any surrounding this turn of events. It seems to be on the up and up. In retrospect, I notice that Bell hasn't been quite "on" in the last few months, dating back to probably the turn of the year. Sure there were episodes throughout the last 6 months that were pure magic, but some were downright awful.

Perhaps most notably is that Art has taken three definitive stances over the past two years or so that have seemingly been against what one would expect. Firstly and most obvious is his anti-911 Conspiracy Theory. The less said about that the better. The second is his anti-disclosure stance, coupled with his pro-ABC UFO special stance. And, thirdly, the apparent dissolving of his once hearty pro-Hoagland stance.

In essence it seemed like at times he was just disagreeing to disagree with the esoteric world in general. Perhaps he was trying to give it a proverbial kick in the back side, I don't know. But he sure riled a lot of people up in various communities over the past few years. And these aren't normal communities, mind you. The 911 Truth Movement and Ufology have some of the most insane folks you'll ever meet. I cannot fathom how many of them poor Art Bell has to deal with. With that in mind, I can understand his decision to slowly pull back from the spotlight of esoterica.

So take heed, all you folks speculating that there is more to this Art Bell schedule change than meets the eye. I do not think there were any forces at work behind Bell dropping weekend hosting duties, other than his own desire to cut back from hosting the show. I suppose now is the best time to also address the most popular conspiracy theory out there : that Art is planning on leaving C2C to start his own show. While not being privy to any inside information, I would certainly file this under "doubtful". At the very least, a show like Whitley Strieber's "Dreamland", done on a weekly basis is possible, but a new #2 upstart show hosted by Bell and challenging C2C seems very unlikely.

The Noor

Once again George Noory is forced to take a backseat to news regarding Art Bell's hosting duties. Noory who debuted as a full time guest host in October of 2001, after a one shot hosting spot on 4.28.2001, guest hosted the show on weekends and sporadic days from 10.2001 until taking the helm as full time host in January of 2003. Throughout that time he was slowly added to more days until the official announcement of his impending full time job in October of 2002.

Since Noory took over hosting duties, a serious effort by the powers that be at C2C has been taken to "re-brand" the show as "Coast to Coast AM with George Noory". This is an arduous task as the show may always be simply known as the "Art Bell Show" to those casual folks in the mainstream. Over the past few months of sharing the show with Bell, a number of schisms in opinions have surfaced, most notably surrounding 911.

As would be expected, there have been suggestions and rumours of friction between Bell and Noory. While it is entirely possible Bell would leave the show because he disagrees with the direction Noory is taking it, I find it would be more likely that Bell would, instead, bring on his own guests to counteract what he perceives as "wrong headed" directions that Noory takes the show. See the Benjamin Chertoff episode this past February as proof of that.

The strange timing of the news of Bell's schedule reduction is that it came at the very start of Noory's annual vacation where he takes a week off from Coast. Certainly the timing of this announcement threw the audience in disarray as they struggled to figure out just what it all meant and Noory was nowhere to be found. Whether this was by Noory's choice or Bell's, we do not know.

Early expectations that we'd see a dip in "Bell exclusive" guests was thrown out as frequent weekend guest Sean David Morton scheduled to appear on C2C on 7.7.5 with George Noory. Therefore we are left to wonder whether folks like Ed Dames and Michio Kaku will remain as "Bell exclusive" guests or will return to weeknight guest spots with George Noory.

Musical Guest Hosts

Ever since Barbara Simpson mysteriously disappeared from C2C's guest host ranks, the on-call or "phantom" host spot has been essentially vacant. Briefly, it seemed, like Hilly Rose had obtained the spot. Hilly Rose was the C2C guest host from October of 1998 to January of 2000. Then, he suddenly reappeared to host once in September of 2004 and then twice in January of 2005. He also had one guest hosting spot this past week while George Noory was on vacation. The new schedule suggests he will be hosting some of those vacant Saturday nights twice a month from here on out. Of the various C2C guest hosts, I'd say he is easily the most esoterically knowledgeable and probably the best connected. He seems to be someone who came from esoterica to talk radio as opposed to Ian Punnett. Speaking of which ...

In a somewhat surprising move, C2C elected to bestow the Sunday slot to another former C2C guest host, Ian Punnett. Punnett was a recurring guest host on C2C from March of 2000 to December of 2001. He earned the nickname "Church Boy", for his strong religious ties, from Art Bell fans who longed for more Bell and less Punnett. He made a one-off appearance hosting the show in February of 2004 and then once again this past Friday (7.1.2005). His gimmicks are saying "Where are you going to take us ?" to the callers and "I'm Ian Punnett" when the show goes to commercial.

Meanwhile, for reasons still unknown, C2C also had a third guest host who recently occupied the spot during the week George Noory was on vacation. Chris McGill guest hosted on Monday, June 27th for the very first time. No record exists of McGill ever hosting the show prior to this night. One would assume that C2C is preparing the spot for a third potential guest host should Punnett and Rose be unavailable.

For the completists in the reading audience, the first record of Barbara Simpson guest hosting C2C is in October of 1999. She would go on to be a regular weekend host from that month until Art Bell returned to hosting weekends on C2C in the middle of September of 2003.

And, of course, when Art Bell "retired" from C2C in April of 2000, the full time hosting duties fell to Mike Siegel, who seems to be the most disliked of all guests hosts and his tenure was short, to say the least. There is probably more to say about Siegel, but he is virtually erased from C2C history and the Art Bell CD ROM, so further research by this author must be done at a later time. Along the way there were probably one or two other guests hosts who had one-shot appearances, but considering they did not stick around, they have not been discussed in this article.

Other Stuff

From the top, let me say that I am not particularly saddened to see Bell cut down on his schedule. Don't get me wrong, when the guest is right and the mood is right, Bell can host circles around Noory. That said, those moments this year have been few and far between and when they occurred they were more often than not ultra strong guests or topics that brought Bell up and not weak guests that Bell made look like a million bucks.

On the topic of coverage of the esoteric world, there is a distinct difference in the flavour of the show depending on who is hosting. Bell brings a "been there, done that" cynicism to esoterica that is contrasted by George Noory's sense of open mindedness that may come from less time in the field. What works for Noory, in the eyes of many in esoterica, is that he is not tied to as many infamous moments as Bell is. Bell has been sullied by the Hale Bopp Comet, Y2K, and years worth of "big revelations" that turned out to little more than bull plop.

Thankfully, Noory has not been bogged down in the seemingly endless quagmire of bogus guests and announcements. He probably has learned from what hurt Bell's credibility with esoterica and lets the guests speak for themselves and does not go into outright hype mode. While many would like to see him go after guests more, he does have his banning of Nancy Leider, the tossing of Wayne Green and David Booth, and his lie detector challenge to Dan Burisch. Yes, Noory's been tied to some losers (Oscar the son of satan) but not as many as Bell has accumulated over the years of hosting.

Of course, I am biased. I picked up C2C right when Noory took over hosting duties so I am indelibly in the pro-Noory camp. When Art Bell returned for his weekend shots, I was blown away by how awesome he was and could feel a more "underground" element to the show. I could see how the early years of the show would be captivating for anyone who listened. But after Bell had been doing the weekends for a while, things just weren't as "special". And, towards the end, it got to be as if Bell was just hanging around and, at times, "bigfooting" Noory's spot as the show's leader. Note that it was Bell and not Noory who was featured on the ABC UFO special as host of Coast to Coast. Bell cutting back and, ultimately, leaving the show is best in the long run for Noory's tenure as full time host of the show as he may finally get a fair chance to emerge from Art's looming shadow.

I've already heard from folks who are swearing off C2C now that Bell is cutting back to two Saturdays a month. I suppose I can understand their point of view, if they were die hard Bell fans. However, I will proffer the idea that those who are jumping ship now that Bell is cutting back are really not too interested in getting to the truth of esoterica if they are going to bail out now. The show is admittedly only a means to an end as far as getting serious answers goes, but it is a valuable tool for further research, irregardless of who is hosting it.

I've also heard from folks who are more annoyed with Bell's schedule change and are more blase in their reaction. I'm not surprised. As a lifelong wrestling fan, I can tell you that the first retirement is the most worthwhile and every subsequent return and retirement diminishes in value exponentially. Look at how no one takes those "farewell" concert tours seriously anymore. There are still good odds that Bell will return to a full weekend schedule in the future if the network begs him or if he gets bored enough. It may not come for a year or two or it may not come at all. We'll see.

Personally, I'm not really happy nor sad. I'm glad Bell is cutting back, because it will open the door for other hosts to have a shot at hosting the show. Now, I'm not too thrilled to see Ian Punnett hosting on Sundays. To put it simply, he annoys me. His "I'm Ian Punnett" tagline is rather amusing the first couple of times you hear it and it gets more annoying each time thereafter. I'd much rather have seen Hilly Rose hosting on Sundays because he is at least a little more gruff and Bell-like. It will be interesting to see if we ever hear from Chris McGill again or if he is doomed to be the answer to the trivia question, "Who was the third guest host along with Ian Punnett and Hilly Rose in June of 2005 ?" Hopefully, McGill will get another shot to impress the C2C brass and fandom.

If Bell were gone for good, you'd hear me wax poetic in a Hoagland-esque way about how I'd miss the bumper music, the insane hype, the over-the-top guests, and his cynical take on the world news. But we'll get all that twice a month and for the first time in a long time, it will seem special all over again. For once, less may truly be more.

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