High kudos for the great forum! It's good to know I'm not the only one who misses hearing that voice coming out of the high desert in the dead of night. Coast to Coast Am is a dull and uninteresting place without Art Bell.
For the record, I am an insufferable skeptic. I don't believe in Bigfoot, ghosts, or alien abductions. I am willing to consider such possibilities, however I have yet to see any convincing empirical evidence of their existence. Nevertheless, Coast to Coast with Art Bell was the only radio show I always made it a point not to miss. Not because I wanted to deride the sometimes preposterous guests or topics, but because Art always made the whole thing so damned interesting. It was fun, like telling ghost stories around the campfire.
When that bumper music started, and that inimitable voice came out of the darkness, talking about Mel's Hole, or Atlantis, or cattle mutilations, we could forget, at least for a few hours, what a crummy day we'd had. It wasn't the subject matter so much as the way Art did the show. He was a master of the art of radiocraft, who, like the greatest actors of our age, could read the proverbial phone book and have us hanging on every word. He is Anthony Hopkins to George Noory's Chuck Norris. (No offense, George.) Coast to Coast AM became a cultural phenomenon because of Art Bell. Because of that voice, that delivery, that ominously rueful Vincent Price chuckle. It was like live suspense theater. Every night felt like War of the Worlds.
When Art stopped doing the show on a regular basis a few years back, I tried to stay on as a listener, but could never make it through an entire episode. George Noory seemed like a nice enough fellow, but amiability doesn't necessarily make for riveting radio. Ian Punnett was inoffensive enough at first, but these days when I hear his voice, I can't get to the knob fast enough. Intentional or not, there is an insinuating know-it-all smugness about Ian that makes me crazier than Nicole Kidman. Whenever I listen to Ian, I always have the feeling that (1) he's smirking behind the microphone, and (2) that he genuinely believes he's much cleverer than anybody else--which he clearly is not. I don't know whether this persona is cultivated or unwitting, but it is enormously disagreeable.
So I rarely listen to Coast to Coast anymore. I've tried, but I always lose interest. It just reminds me of how great the show used to be when Art was at the helm, and of how mediocre it has become.
Grand days, those. I wish Art would come back.