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Radio / Coast to Coast AM

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If you're an insomniac conspiracy theorist, then Coast to Coast AM is for you.

In 1989 Art Bell received the job of filling a Las Vegas talk channel's five-hour overnight time slot. Assuming that the late hours would limit the show to a small audience, producers allowed Bell a ton of leeway with the subject matter. Bell worked Coast to Coast AM into an open forum discussing paranormal and fringe topics, and allowed the public to voice their opinions without ridicule, thanks to his trademark of unscreened open lines.

The format and subject matter quickly amassed a much larger audience than expected, and in 1993 Coast to Coast AM was syndicated. Currently, the show is broadcast on more than 500 American AM radio stations, with numerous Canadian affiliates and a worldwide audience through Internet streams.

Subject matter on Coast to Coast AM typically focuses on aliens and UFOs, conspiracy theories, paranormal activity and research, remote viewing, 2012 theories, and international political issues, but has also interviewed well-known actors, musicians or authors. The show is currently hosted by George Noory on weekdays and an occasional Sunday. George Knapp hosts two Sundays a month. On Saturdays, plus Sundays when Knapp or Noory does not host, either Dave Schrader or Richard Syrett will host. Schrader or Syrett will also host on Fridays when Noory travels to Denver to record his video show Beyond Belief. Art Bell infrequently guest-hosted until his death in 2018.

Given the length and subject matter, there are numerous crowning moments of high strangeness and oddball characters etched into the annals of Coast to Coast AM lore:

Bell was even given a No Celebrities Were Harmed homage in GTA Radio and a voice role As Himself in Prey (2006), where the player can listen to snippets of people calling his show about the giant spaceship the protagonist is trapped in. He also had a cameo in I Know Who Killed Me, where he explains the movie's central plot point. Seriously.

Coast to Coast AM contains examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: As they were friends, Art loved the Phil Hendrie parodies of his show. In an AMA to promote Midnight in the Desert, he even jokingly suggested that he'd love to General John Jameson—the guest on Hendrie's shows.
  • Bathos: The Gordon Freeman call. The caller maintains a completely serious and convincing tone at all times and never breaks character, and the things he's describing are genuinely unsettling, but Half-Life fans (or gamers in general) will be cracking up because of the way he recounts the plots of the games in complete seriousness and great detail without George Noory ever catching on.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "From the High Desert/City of Angels/Gateway to the West/Somewhere Deep Underground!" "Turn your radio off!" "Deus te Amat, and I do to!" "Good night America!"
    • Recurring caller JC has one: HOW DARE YOU!!!
  • Conspiracy Theorist: All the hosts, most of the guests and callers.
  • Conspiracy Kitchen Sink: From FEMA camps to hollow earth to mind control, it's all here.
  • Cool vs. Awesome: J.C. vs Oscar.
  • Crossover:
    • With Half-Life, of all things.
    • And even Fallout. Some guy calls to talk about his "revelation" of Vault 101, and the host buys it as real.
    • Former weekend host Ian Punnett did an intentional crossover with World War Z during an interview with Max Brooks.
    • Search and Rescue Woods: Art Bell accidentally fell for the original "Stairs in the Woods" posting of the creepypasta on his later radio show Midnight in the Desert. Most likely he came across it while doing research for an interview with David Paulides, who examines missing people in national parks.
  • Demonic Possession: There's a number of folks who claim this on this show. J.C. Webster III believes this is the case with Charlie Sheen... except the devil in question is the spirit of Rick James! Considering that J.C. thinks Blacks are inhuman devil-beings, it probably explains it.
  • Enemy Mine: An Ultra-Traditionalist Catholic named Bro. Michael Dimond (pronounced 'Diamond', not 'Dimmund') was a phone-in guest on the show and was incredibly irritating with his holier-than-thou ways. Then J.C. Webster III called and started a row with Dimond. George Noory quietly let them argue, then told J.C. afterward that maybe they (Noory & J.C.) could see eye-to-eye on something, once in a while.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: "Oscar" sounds positively demonic.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Edna Pringle started out as J.C. Webster's willing follower and main goon who would email Art & George harassing messages. Then she finally revolted and ran off with a biker/Streamlink member with $10,000 from the compound till. J.C. trying and failing to find her had become a regular Running Gag (he may or may not have caught her, depending on the call).
  • He-Man Woman Hater: J.C. Webster III's views on the female half of humanity is akin to ISIS/ISIL/Daesh or the Taliban.
  • Live but Delayed: Often utilized, most often when the callers accidentally slip in their last name.
  • Noodle Incident: Art Bell literally took his Ouija board story to the grave. All he let on was that it was something that extremely frightened him, so much so that he refused to talk about it.
  • Prolonged Prologue: While all of the hosts have decently-sized intros, George Knapp's is perhaps the longest.note 
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: J.C. Webster III, big time.
  • Spin-Off: Had three.
    • The first was Dreamland, which had somewhat different format, but was more or less Coast to Coast on the weekend. In the late 90s, after one of Art's retirements, he gave the show to Whitley Strieber, who hosts it to this day.
    • The second was Coast to Coast Live, which started in 2006 after Art came out of another retirement, displacing then weekend host Ian Punnett. The network proceeded to give him the Saturday time normally reserved for a replay of the previous week's show.
    • The third was created after Art quit the show for good, named Art Bell: Somewhere in Time and replayed classic shows. This was to Art's annoyance, and the absolute delight of tape traders.
  • Start My Own: After Art's contract and non-compete ran out with Premiere, he started his own radio show (first on Sirius XM and later on Internet radio).
    • Later hosts of that radio show do the same after being fired for various reasons (Heather Wade for missing too many shows after Art's death, and Tim Weisberg after an ownership change of the digital network).
  • Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: One caller who called himself "Oscar" seriously freaked George out.
  • Voice of the Resistance: Many listeners ironically consider this to be an underground news source, despite the fact that it's broadcast across the world and on most major American AM stations.
    • This is something of a justified trope as the entire heavy dose of general weirdness is pretty subversive for a format shared with Paul Harvey. Also, Art Bell is notable for taking climate change seriously a decade before it was considered a serious subject by the mainstream media, and in 2001 his show broke the first photos of Guantanamo Bay prisoners, a story picked up universally by the news media.
      • Possibly enhanced, since the show was dropped from the WABC lineup.