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Midnight in the Desert with Art Bell

Art Bell Calls It a Day for ‘Midnight In the Desert’

Perhaps it was too good to last, or maybe it’s time to revive the tired old saw, “this is why we can’t have nice things.” In any event, Art Bell’s return to nightly broadcast is over, yet again.

In a blog post dated December 11, Bell writes that he is “going to hang it up” and will not return to the air. He blames a “crazy person” who apparently has been threatening Bell and his family. Shots were fired near his home studio during his live broadcast on October 21 while he was live on air. He has also reported to listeners a couple of other incidents since then where he has felt threatened.

I missed his show last night, which was hosted by a substitute, but I understand that Bell came on at one point to explain the situation, saying he had been shot at while walking around his house. Although the connection between these incidents and his broadcasts are not entirely clear, Bell obviously understands them to be related. “As you all know I dearly love what I do,” he writes, “but not at the expense of never ending Terrorism (sic).”

Keith Rowland, who runs the syndicator for Midnight In the Desert, the Dark Matter Radio Network, says that, “I am unsure of the status of the program and replacement host.” So the network is offering refunds to subscribers of the “Time Traveler” podcast service.

I’ve quite enjoyed his return to nightly broadcasting, in which he seemed rejuvenated and to have sharpened his unique skill for being simultaneously open minded and respectfully skeptical with guests and callers alike. I will miss the company of his voice before I drift off to sleep.

Bell’s Midnight in the Desert show was originally intended to be online only, but excitement over his return quickly cause it to spread to 55 broadcast affiliates, including two shortwave stations.

If indeed these violent threats are intended to intimidate Bell into ending his radio show, it’s very unfortunate that they worked. At the same time, one can’t blame Bell for valuing his safety and the safety of his family. Although he once broadcast across hundreds of stations with the backing of the nation’s largest radio conglomerate, he is now pretty much an independent broadcaster. So I can understand how he simply doesn’t have the resources at hand to provide a sufficient level of security in the current environment.

Nevertheless, this is sad news. It was good while it lasted.

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