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Ghost Files

Grey Matter

7.5.5

The mysterious vanishing host - Art Bell

As probably most who will read this know, Sunday 6/26 Art Bell made announcement that he will be cutting down his Coast to Coast schedule from every Saturday and Sunday to only 2 Saturdays a month or maybe less from the sound of it. I listened to this twice and still didnít quite understand what he was saying. It seemed Sundays will be covered by Ian Punnett and Saturdays with George, some guest hosts and classic shows.

Being that this is not the first time Art has left and he didnít totally leave this time I donít feel as bad as I normally do when he makes his ďannouncements.Ē The first time Art left I donít think I am exaggerating to say I was devastated. I donít think up until that point we had ever even experienced a guest host and the thought of Art not being there was unimaginable. That time Art left for a variety of what I guess would be called personal reasons. First the ongoing court case with his sonís teacher who had molested his son. Second was the court case with John David Oates whom he was suing for slander. Suddenly there we were stuck with Mike Siegel. I never liked Mike and didnít listen much over the time he hosted. In fairness to Mike I donít know if he was really that bad a host or I just could not accept the change. I will admit that I didnít give him much of a chance.

Then as suddenly as he had left Art returned. I was so full of joy over this bit of news and could not wait to here those words once again ďLive from the desert and the grrreat American southwest.Ē It was a pretty short lived reappearance though easier to say goodbye that time because we did have a while to get use to George Noory before Art completely left due to his bad back. George isnít Art, but I find him likeable and the weekly show was still very enjoyable depending on the guest. It was the weekends that I normally skipped unless there was a guest on that was just too good to miss. The weekends were hosted by the evil witch Barbara Simpson. I could have stood her abrasive personality if only she had some clue about what she was discussing which she normally didnít. Also, she seemed to think that politics should be brought into every discussion and there are just times when it doesnít matter or doesnít fit in.

Then suddenly Barbara is gone and Art is back again doing the weekends. Really I would have been happy no matter who replaced Barbara, but Art was a real bonus on top of getting rid of her. When Art first returned to weekends he seemed sincerely happy, almost joyous to be back. As time went on though I noticed a bit of a change, not only did Art not seem as happy to be there, but there was something else that I canít quite put my finger on. Right now at the coast to coast website in the classics is one of Artís shows from 1998, I think anyone listening to it will notice a difference between the old Art and the Art we have been hearing lately. I think his enthusiasm seems to be almost gone recently.

While at first he easily gave George compliments for the great job he was doing I canít really think of any in recent times. It has also become obvious that Art doesnít listen to the show at all during the week because when someone calls about a guest the previous week he normally has no clue who they are talking about. Now I wouldnít expect Art to listen every night, but couldnít he at least check the schedule to see who had been on the previous week? I wonder if there isnít a bit of (for lack of a better word) jealousy? George took over his show and the ratings went up instead of down as he may have expected. Really that had to be somewhat of an ego buster.

More recently has been the whole 9/11 debacle. I am sure over the years I have heard Art refer to a listener as something equally offensive as ďwingnutĒ and probably even more offensive, but I have never heard him tell listeners to quit listening to his show. If I recall correctly that is what he said that the ďwingnutĒ and others like him should not listen to his show because he doesnít want people like them listening. So thinking back on that maybe Art really has grown to hate doing the show and it is better that he cut back on it than to continue to alienate more listeners. I suppose it is also possible that saying such a thing didnít go over really well with the network and there may be more friction there which makes him want to do the show less. I am privy to some information that Art had a different problem with the network. Since it was told to me confidentially I canít say what it was, but if I know of that problem there could have been many others too. Or it could just be that Art after just turning 60 years old decided he wanted to lead a more laid back, retiree type life. I will no doubt miss Art many times while they are playing stupid shows that should have not aired the first time as ďclassics,Ē but I do want Art to be happy. I think he deserves it. If cruising the highways and byways in his RV with Ramona is what does it for him then that is what he should do. I wish him all the best for the many years of entertainment he has given me and even though I am somewhat of a wingnut myself, Art will still always be the best in my book and I will always look forward to his appearances on coast and hope that he continues to make them.

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