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Midnight in the Desert with Art Bell

Art Bell to Expand Distribution of ‘Midnight in the Desert’ via Satellite

When Art Bell announced his return to daily broadcasting last spring the plan was to be internet-only, with just one shortwave station picking up the online feed. By the time his new show, “Midnight in the Desert,” launched in July he’d signed up about 23 terrestrial broadcast stations, indicating some definite pent-up demand.

This week Bell announced plans to begin satellite distribution that will be available to 4,000 terrestrial station in the U.S equipped to receive XDS feeds. While using an internet stream to feed affiliate stations works, it’s still a less-than-reliable workaround. Anyone who has experienced an internet station stutter or drop off can certainly understand why that scheme isn’t quite “broadcast quality.” Moving to satellite also makes it easier and less expensive to scale beyond the 30 affiliates now carrying the show.

The satellite feed begins October 1, and Bell is urging his fans to contact local stations to ask them to pick it up.

It’s interesting to note that MITD is sticking to its limited-commercial format, with only four to five minutes of ads an hour. That’s tiny compared to most syndicated talk radio, in which that number swells to well above 20 minutes. But it also means affiliate stations only have two minutes of ad time they can sell. Distributor Nexus Broadcast puts a positive spin on it, in a way that is reminiscent of how the low ad density in podcasts is touted:

While the local inventory is limited to the two minutes provided, this puts your local inventory at a premium. There should be no worries of losing income because of the limited commercial content. This is a positive for you!

As a listener I certainly appreciate how few ads there are on MITD, and as a radio lover I really do hope it’s a good deal for stations, too. Given the show’s late-night slot, combined with being perfect for AM radio, I can’t imagine it would be much of a risk for too many stations to give it a whirl.

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One Response to Art Bell to Expand Distribution of ‘Midnight in the Desert’ via Satellite

  1. m&m September 25, 2015 at 8:58 pm #

    I seem to recall that was a point of contention when Art Bell was on the Premiere/ClearChannel network: Bell was decidedly uncooperative when the network wanted to boost the amount of commercials to the point where more than 1/3 of the broadcast day was nothing but advertising. That doesnt work well on interviews (where the guest is often cut off in mid-sentence while trying to answer a complicated question.) Premiere now has more ads than any network on the planet, but the guy they hired to replace Bell is a corporate lapdog who dumbed-down the show to the point where Bell’s fans were constantly begging him to start his own network. So it’s not just the Art Bell “midnight” show now: the Dark Matter Network is a 24-hour internet channel with a refreshing variety of alternative content that is not driven by the concerns of corporate bean counters. It’s kind of like “Coast-to-Coast AM” in the early days, before it was bought out by Premiere & ClearChannel. If you type “George Noory sucks” into a search engine, you can see how the overnight audience is very unhappy with the way that Premiere has ruined Bell’s old show. There is clearly a substantial demand for the alternative product lineup which the new Dark Matter network has to offer. I expect a lot of growth for this network and will definitely start listening to a local broadcast affiliate when they pick this up, because I want to support the sponsors.

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