Monday night at midnight Eastern Time is the much anticipated return of Art Bell. Though originally planned to be an online-only show on the Dark Matter network, 21 AM and FM stations and two shortwave stations have now picked it up. Most of the stations are outside major markets, with the exception of affiliates in Salt Lake City, Toronto and my city, Portland, Oregon.
I was happy to learn about KXL-FM signing on to Midnight in the Desert. When I first reported on the new show, I noted that while I welcome Bell’s return to broadcasting, I prefer being able to simply tune it in on my bedside radio rather than having to use my smartphone or laptop. Now I’ll be able to do that here in Portland. *Midnight in the Desert* will replace two hours of the paranormal themed Ground Zero with Clyde Lewis, which is based at KXL.
Last Tuesday Bell participated in a Reddit Ask Me Anything. Although most of the questions were about past interviews and other paranormal topics, he did field some about his new show, and radio in general.
The biggest reveal is that he plans a test show for Sunday night, where the central question is, “what do you want to see?” Odds are that most of the show will be listener calls on just that topic. He also assured that all calls to Midnight in the Desert will not be screened, and that Fridays will be “open lines,” meaning that listener calls will make up most of the show.
One reader asked him what he thinks of iconic radio host Phil Hendrie’s impression of him. Bell said he “loved” them, and that “they really are funny.” For the equipment geeks, he shared that he uses a Beyerdynamic microphone (he didn’t specify a model, but I’d guess it’s the M99) and a Symetrix vocal processor.
Responding to a question about what inspired him to get into radio, Bell said that he got started with ham radio at age 12, and was on commercial broadcast by 13.
First radio job, small FM on top of a mountain in Franklin, NJ. Religious FM. Read the news every hour. Station manager didn’t like people too close to the mic. So he’d come in and yank the chair out from under you while live on the air!
And, certainly to the delight of his fans, Bell also made clear his opinion on the condition of his old show Coast to Coast AM. “I think the current host of that show does it a disservice,” he said. "The current state of that program is the genesis for Midnight in the Desert.
I’ll definitely be tuning in for Sunday’s test show–though I’m not sure it will be on broadcast–as well as Monday night Midnight in the Desert debut. I will also report back my impressions of the new show.